What's at the Field Museum of Natural History?

field museum of natural history
The Field Museum of Natural History. Wikimedia Commons

The Field Museum of Natural History is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Illinois.

About the Field Museum

For dinosaur fans, the centerpiece of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is "Evolving Planet." This is an exhibit that traces the evolution of life from the Cambrian period down to the present day. And as you might expect, the centerpiece of "Evolving Planet" is the Hall of Dinosaurs, which boasts such specimens as a juvenile Rapetosaurus and a rare Cryolophosaurus, the only dinosaur known to have lived in Antarctica. Other dinosaurs on display at the Field include Parasaurolophus, Masiakasaurus, Deinonychus, and dozens of others. After you're done with the dinosaurs, a 40-foot aquarium harbors reproductions of ancient aquatic reptiles, such as Mosasaurus.

The Field Museum of Natural History was originally known as the Columbian Museum of Chicago, the only remaining building from the gigantic Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, one of the first truly world-sized World Fairs. In 1905, its name was changed to the Field Museum, in honor of department store tycoon Marshall Field. In 1921, the museum moved closer to downtown Chicago. Today, the Field Museum is considered one of the United States' three premier natural history museums, alongside the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (part of the Smithsonian Institution complex).

By far the most famous dinosaur at the Field Museum of Natural History is Tyrannosaurus Sue. This is the near-complete, full-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex discovered by roving fossil-hunter Sue Hendrickson in 1990 in South Dakota. The Field Museum wound up acquiring Tyrannosaurus Sue at auction (for the relative bargain price $8 million) after a dispute arose between Hendrickson and the owners of the property on which she made her spectacular find.

The Chicago Natural History Museum

Like any world-class museum, the Field Museum hosts extensive fossil collections that are not open to the general public but are available for inspection and study by qualified academics. This includes not only dinosaur bones but mollusks, fish, butterflies, and birds. And just like in "Jurassic Park," but with not at quite as high a level of technology, visitors can see museum scientists extracting DNA from various organisms at the DNA Discovery Center and watch fossils being prepared for exhibition at the McDonald Fossil Prep Lab.