Top 10 Museum Exhibits in Chicago of 2018

2018 was a jam-packed year for museums in the windy city! Since I couldn’t see every fabulous exhibit, I reached out to a bunch of Chicago museum professionals and asked them to tell me about their favorite exhibits of 2018. Here’s what they shared: 

1.  I Was Raised on the Internet at the Museum of Contemporary Art

I Was Raised on the Internet examined how the internet shapes our experience of the world. According to Catherine White, Assistant Manager of Education and Events at the International Museum of Surgical Science, “I Was Raised on the Internet brought together established and emerging new media artists to explore the internet as both a subject and a medium. The work was all incredible and the exhibit had really cool online resources viewable off-site making it very accessible, able to meet visitors where they are, and usable in an education setting.”

2. Bronzville Echoes: Faces and Places of Chicago’s African American Music at the Chicago Cultural Center

Bronzville Echoes explored the history of ragtime, jazz, and blues in Chicago. Mason Culkin, a MUSE graduate student at UIC, “absolutely loved the old times phone booth with music samples.” She thought it was a “great way to play the music without it being blasted while walking through.”

3. Charles White: A Retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago

CharlesWhite: A Retrospective celebrated the legacy of the famous African American painter Charles White. According to Kate Swisher, the Registrar at the Dusable Museum, “it did a really great job of tracing a narrative of White’s career and artistic development, while also bringing together an incredible range of his work, everything from masterpieces to sketches.” I personally loved the exhibit because it expertly used place as an interpretive toolCharles White: A Retrospective is now on view at the MoMA through January 19, 2019. 

4. SUE the T. Rex at the Field Museum

SUE the T. Rex is the most complete T.Rex fossil that has ever been found. They’re also a Chicago icon, having lived at the Field Museum since 1997. Recently, SUE has been hanging out in storage while the Field builds a new exhibit for them. They will finally return to the Field Museum on December 21, 2018. The Field Museum’s staff is super excited to welcome them home!  

5. The City That Werqs at the Gerber Hart Library and Archives

The City that Werqs examines the history of drag in Chicago through photographs, newspaper articles, and clothing. It is not only well curated, but also accurately represents the incredible diversity of Chicago’s queer community. The City that Werqs is on display until April 2019, so you can still see it!

6. The Time is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960-1989 at the Smart Museum of Art

The Time Now celebrates art created on Chicago’s South Side during the 1960s and 1970s. Kate Nardin, the Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Chicago Public Library Foundation, loved The Time is Now because it features “deeply Chicago art that deserves to be known far and wide!” Annie Cullen, a Program Associate at the Terra Foundation, similarly praised the exhibit for uncovering “untold Chicago stories, while also highlighting their national significance to artistic and social movements including the mural, Black Arts, and the Civil Rights Movements.” The Time is Now is open until December 30, 2018. 

7. ICONIC Black Panther at the Stony Bank Arts Foundation

 ICONIC Black Panther is an artistic tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Illinois Black Panther Party (IBPP). I particularly appreciated that the exhibit celebrated the role of women in the IBPP. ICONIC Black Panther is on display until January 6, 2019.

8. The Science Behind Pixarat the Museum of Science and Industry

The Science Behind Pixar uncovers the science, technology, engineering, and math behind Pixar movies.  The exhibit was one of the most hands-on exhibits in Chicagland of 2018, with more than 40 interactivesThe Science Behind Pixar is on display at MSI until January 6, 2019.

9. Race:Are We So Different at the Chicago History Museum

Race: Are We So Different examined the concept of race through historical, cultural, and scientific lenses. In our current political climate, the exhibit was painfully relevant. It provided opportunities to play, spaces to reflect, and taught visitors empathy.

10. History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing at the National Public Housing Museum

History Lessons featured everyday objects owned by individuals who lived in public housing. The exhibit felt really homey because it incorporated the views of the local community.  


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