Chicago History Museum

Chicago History Museum (formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society) was founded in 1856 to study and interpret Chicago's history. It is located in Lincoln Park in a building at 1601 North Clark Street at the intersection of North Avenue in the Old Town Triangle neighborhood of Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was renamed the Chicago History Museum in September, 2006.

On January 19, 2006, the first passenger car to operate on the Chicago 'L' system in 1893 was transported to its new display location at the Chicago Historical Society. Passengers could ride the 1893 'L' from the Loop to Hyde Park station for 5 cents to attend the World's Columbian Exposition upon the line's opening. The car, known as CTA 1, was cosmetically restored to its 1893 appearance before being transported to the museum where it was lifted into an opening created through a wall on the museum's second floor. The car's interior features include mahogany and rattan seats and etched glass windows. CTA 1 joins Pioneer, the first locomotive to operate in Chicago; a redesigned exhibit space to showcase the car and locomotive opened on September 30, 2006.

The museum also houses Chicago's most important collection of materials related to local history. In addition to the exhibits, the museum continues to house an extensive research library which includes books and other published materials, manuscripts, paintings, sculptures and photos. It is open to the public, including students working on school projects, however it has limited hours which average less than 24 hours per week.

The costume and textile collection numbers over 50,000 pieces and dates from the late 19th Century to the present. It contains extensive couture pieces, items created by well-known Chicago manufacturers and designers and those worn by notable residents. It is believed that this is the second largest collection in the United States behind the collections of the Metropoltan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and the Brooklyn Museum which were combined in January 2009 and numbers over 54,000 items.

In 2007, the museum announced that upon death of the current curator of the Chicago Postcard Museum, it will assume that museum's entire postcard collection depicting various periods of Chicago's history into its collection.

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Exhibitions and events

Abraham Lincoln

Permanent exhibition

As president, Abraham Lincoln faced our nation’s greatest crisis—the Civil War. His resolve to save the Union and radical decision to end slavery transformed America. This intimate exhibition...

Lincoln's Chicago

Permanent exhibition

Lincoln was a frequent visitor to Chicago; The city became his second home and political headquarters during his rise to prominence. This gallery features portraits of Lincoln’s contemporaries with...

Unexpected Chicago

Permanent exhibition

Let history surprise you. Each month stop by to see a new item on display from the Museum’s collection of more than 22 million artifacts. Handpicked by our curators, the selections may come from our...

Educational programs

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