The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago is reason enough to visit the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood, especially for those with kids in tow. But Hyde Park has several wonderful small museums that also merit a visit. Indeed, it wouldn’t be difficult to spend a delightful long weekend without ever leaving the South Side neighborhood, visiting museums and used bookstores (Powell’s Books Chicago is a treasure) and seeing performances at the Court Theatre or Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.
On this visit to Hyde Park, we skipped over the Museum of Science and Industry and visited three lesser-known gems. Even many Chicagoans (North Siders, at least) haven’t made it to these institutions. Note that all three of the museums below are closed on Mondays.
DuSable Museum of African American History
Divided between a beautiful 1915 administration building for Washington Park and a 1993 extension, this fascinating museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian. Mosaics by Thomas H. Miller celebrating Chicago’s black history decorate the historic entry hall, and exhibitions elsewhere cover a wide range of subject matter. I was particularly fascinated by Clearing a Path for Democracy: Citizen Soldiers of the Illinois Fighting 8th and The Love Affair Continues, an exhibition of contemporary art of the African diaspora. The moving Freedom, Resistance, and the Journey Toward Equality covers the history of African-Americans in the country from the arrival of the first slave ships to the presidency of Barack Obama with impressive economy, supplementing short texts with artifacts such as shackles, a “whites only” sign from a Mississippi diner and Harold Washington posters. Anyone interested in U.S. history will find a visit to this museum worthwhile.