The Field Museum has come a long way from the taxidermied prairie animals and wax Indian figures that filled its exhibit space for so many years. Of course, those perennial favorites are still on display, but the addition of several interactive exhibits and multimedia features have brought this Chicago favorite into the twenty-first century.
The museum's pride and joy is Sue, the world's largest, best preserved fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex. A replica skull tops her skeleton in the center of the museum, but her real skull, too heavy to mount on the body, is on display on the second floor. Visitors can touch casts of Sue's bones, as well as watch videos of the skeleton's restoration and animated CAT scans of her skull. Dinosaur enthusiasts have even more to cheer about with the opening of the Dino Zone exhibit.
But the Field Museum captures more than just dinosaurs. Its permanent exhibits include plants, animals, geology, culture, art and religion. The ground floor is home to Bushman, Lincoln Park Zoo's famous lowland gorilla, as well as the "Underground Adventure" exhibit, which gives visitors a taste of what it would be like to be an inch-and-a-half tall and live in soil. The first floor plays host to exhibits about Native American culture, as well as most of the museum's animal and ecosystem exhibits. The Asian culture and geology exhibits are on the upper level.
The Field Museum has made strides toward a more "kid-friendly" approach to natural history, but the vibe here is still more classroom than playground. Hyperactive learners may be more satisfied at the Museum of Science and Industry, but you don't have to be a history geek to enjoy a trip to the Field.
Want to know exactly what it is you're looking at? You can now download an mp3 version of the Permanent Collections Audio Tour (narrated by "Wait...Wait..Don't Tell Me!" host Peter Sagal) and take it along with you on your iPod when you visit the museum.
Centerstage Reviewer: Aimee Hall