“Remaining 2018 Illinois Resident Free Days at The Field Museum” by S.M. O’Connor

The remaining 2018 Illinois Resident Free Days at The Field Museum of Natural History are Saturday, September 15, 2018; Sunday, September 16, 2018; Monday, September 17, 2018; Sunday, September 30, 2018; Monday, October 8, 2018; Sunday, October 21, 2018; Sunday, October 28, 2018; Wednesday, October 31, 2018; Sunday, November 11, 2018; Sunday, November 18, 2018; Sunday, December 9, 2018; and Sunday, December 16, 2018.  On Free Admission Days, basic admission is free for Illinois residents who provide proof of residency in state.

Upcoming Illinois Resident Free Days at The Field Museum


15th, 16th, 17th, and 30th


8th, 21st, 28th, and 31st

11th and 18th


9th and 16th


Free basic admission covers admission to general exhibits.  This is a good way to bring a family or group of friends to see classic exhibits that periodically get updated but overall have existed in the same form for decades and been enjoyed for generations of Midwesterners.  It is also a cheap way to see special exhibits or traveling exhibits and movies that require separate tickets that are available at discounted prices.

Basic Admission on Free Days

Includes all general admission exhibits, such as the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, Robert R. McCormick Halls of the Ancient Americas, and Inside Ancient Egypt.


Children (Ages 3-11) Senior Citizens (65+) Students with ID
Free Free Free



Discounted Discovery Pass

Includes all general admission exhibits, and one ticketed exhibit or one 3D movie.


Children (Ages 3-11) Senior Citizens (65+) Students with ID
$16 $12 $14



Discounted All-Access Price

Includes all general admission exhibits, all ticketed exhibits, and one 3D movie.


Children (Ages 3-11) Senior Citizens (65+) Students with ID
$23 $17 $20



Proof of Residency

No special coupon, ticket, or pass is required to enter The Field Museum during Free Admission Days.  Just present a current Illinois Driver’s License, Illinois State ID, or Chicago CityKey card at the ticket desk to establish proof of residency.  If one does not have one of these aforementioned identification cards, one may establish residency with a combination of another photo ID and an Illinois lease, an Illinois library card, an Illinois student photo ID, an Illinois utility bill, and an Illinois work ID or check stub.  Check the Events Webpage and The Field Museum of Natural History’s social media accounts for updates about free days and special events happening at The Field Museum.

The Field Museum participates in the Museums for All program as a result of which it offers discounted admission to all families who qualify for state food assistance.  Show an EBT (Link) or WIC card to receive $3-per-person admission for up to six people.  This rate applies during normal business hours every day that The Field Museum is open.

Open 364 days a year (every day but Christmas Day) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the last admission time to The Field Museum is 4:00 p.m.  Please note the observation window into the new SUE gallery in Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet was closed September 4-7, 2018.

This December, The Field Museum will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its foundation.  It is the anchor of the Museum Campus in Burnham Park.  Originally, it was housed within the Palace of Fine Arts in Jackson Park, which had been an art museum during the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893) and now houses the Museum of Science and Industry.  F.W. Putnam, chief ethnologist of the World’s Columbian Exposition, encouraged The Commercial Club of Chicago to use materials from the W.C.E. to form a permanent museum. Edward E. Ayer (1841-1927) was a railroad-tie magnate who persuaded Marshall Field I (1834-1906) to donate money for what became The Field Museum of Natural History.  Rep. Robert McMurdy of Hyde Park proposed a bill that the General Assembly passed as An Act Concerning Museums in Public Parks on June 17, 1893.  The Colombian Museum of Chicago incorporated on September 16, 1893.  Retail and wholesale merchant king Marshal Field I (1835-1906) announced he would donate $1,000,000 to the institution on October 26, 1893. The Columbian Museum of Chicago was renamed the Field Columbian Museum on May 21, 1894.  The Field Columbian Museum opened on June 2, 1894.

The Columbian Field Museum occupied the Palace of Fine Arts from 1894 until 1920.  [Upon the exposition board naming him Director of Public Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition, on October 30, 1890, Daniel Hudson Burnham, Sr. (1846-1912) named his partner John Wellborn Root, Sr. (1850-1891) the supervising architect and the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) the supervising landscape architect. Root died after visiting Jackson Park on a stormy night. Burnham replaced him with Charles B. Atwood (1849-1895) was Chief Architect of the World’s Columbian Exposition and personally designed the Illinois Central Railroad Station, the Peristyle of the Court of Honor, and the Palace of Fine Arts.] Atwood designed the Palace of Fine Arts to act as a temporary fine arts museum during the World’s Fair.  Whereas most of the other buildings from the White City had been railroad sheds with plaster facades, the Palace of Fine Arts was a brick structure with a plaster façade so it would be considered fireproof by the standards of the day and owners would not fret that their artworks might burn in a city infamous for having burned down in 1871.  The Field Museum of Natural History moved in 1920 to its new home in Burnham Park, paid for with a bequest from Field, on land the Illinois Central Railroad donated to the South Park District to fulfill a provision of Field’s will that the land for the new museum building be provided free.

Ayer served as its first President of the Field Columbian Museum from 1894 to 1898.  He remained on the Board of Trustees until 1927.  Ayer was also a patron of the Chicago Historical Society, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Newberry Library.[1]  Harlow Higinbotham (1838-1919), a business partner of Marshall Field I, was President of the World’s Columbian Exposition Company and headed the World’s Columbian Exposition’s Council of Administration was a Field Museum board member from 1894 to 1919, served as the second President of the Field Columbian Museum from 1898 to 1908.  He purchased the World’s Columbian Exposition’s Tiffany gems and the George Frederick Kunz gemology and mineralogy library for the Field Columbian Museum.

In 1900, the Executive. Committee of the Board of Trustees abandon “industrial and historical collections.”  During this time, the trustees voted to focus on natural history.  Industrial and art exhibits from the World’s Columbian Museum that did not fit that vision were given back to their donors or transferred to other museums.  Marshall Field I left the Museum an $8,000,000 bequest.  This included $4,000,000 to provide an endowment and $4,000,000 for erecting a new building to house the institution, if land were provided for it within six years.  The bequest included the land under Carson Pirie Scott.  The General Assembly passed a law on May 14, 1903 that empowered Chicago’s South Park Commission to levy a tax for the maintenance of the Field Columbian Museum.  In 1905, the Field Columbian Museum changed its name to the Field Museum of Natural History.

Mail-order retail tycoon Aaron Montgomery Ward (1843-1913), who had earlier sued the City of Chicago to clean up Grant Park, said he would not oppose the new building in Grant Park if the City Council agreed not to build anything else there.  They refused, and after Ward counted twenty proposals for museums, libraries, and monuments, he sued, and in 1909 the Illinois Supreme Court again upheld him.  In 1911, the Illinois Central Railroad donated land at 12th Street adjacent to Grant Park to the Field Museum project, an act that would eventually allow for the creation of the Museum Campus around the Field Museum.  This land was not considered an addition to Grant Park, but the northeast corner of Burnham Park contiguous with Grant Park.

Stanley Field – Marshall Field I’s nephew gave the Field Museum $2,000,000, and served as Second Vice President of The Field Museum of Natural History from 1906  to 1908.  He served as third President of The Field Museum of Natural History for fifty-six years.  He was also President of the Shedd Aquarium Society, Chairman of the Chicago Zoological Society’s Building and Operating Committee, and sat on Mayor Dever’s 1926 A Century of Progress committee.  [Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition was held in Burnham Park in 1933 and ’34.]  The Field family has remained active in the operation of The Field Museum for generations.  Marshall Field V has served as Chairman of the Board of both The Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum.

The new Field Museum was designed by Ernest B. Graham and Peirce Anderson. Ernest Graham (1866-1936) went from being Atwood’s assistant during the World’s Columbian Exposition to become Burnham’s partner in Burnham & Company, the name Burnham had adopted in 1896, and carried on business under the name Graham Burnham & Co.  In 1917, after Burnham’s sons left the firm, Graham changed the name to Graham, Anderson Probst & White, which is the name under which the firm still operates.  His partner William Peirce Anderson (1870-1924) was point on the project.  The organization vacated the Palace of Fine Arts in 1920 and The Field Museum of Natural History opened in 1921.

The eldest of The Field Museum’s dioramas are a group of four white-tailed deer diorama, Four Seasons.  It was prepared privately by taxidermist and sculptor Carl Akeley (1864-1926) and his wife, Delia J. Akeley (1875-1970), and, in 1902, The Field Museum purchased the diorama group.   In 1908, The Field Museum of Natural History installed in the Central Rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts Carl Akeley’s African Elephant Group (two stuffed African elephants, one charging the other’s midsection).  Carl & Delia Akeley killed these elephants before he stuffed and mounted them.

Mrs. Charles (Laura) Schweppe, a daughter and co-heiress of John Graves Shedd (1850-1926), the late former partner of Marshall Field I who succeeded him as president of Marshall Field & Company, and who, under the guidance of Stanley Field, founded the John G. Shedd Aquarium, donated an exhibit of more than 100 bronze sculptures by Malvina Hoffman that represented all of the human races, nations, and tribes.  On January 9, 1933, the first bronze group, Unity of Man, went on display in Stanley Field Hall.[2]

SUE is the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton yet recovered.  Her mounted bones went on display at the Field Museum on May 17, 2000.[3]  More than 10,000 people visited the Field Museum that day.

In one of the largest private gifts ever to a Chicago museum, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex yet discovered, SUE, will be remounted in a more scientifically accurate way and moved upstairs from Stanley Field Hall to the exhibit The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, as I wrote about last year.  Meanwhile, a touchable cast of the biggest dinosaur yet discovered, Patagotitan mayorum, was installed in Stanley Field Hall, as part of The Field Museum’s 125th anniversary celebrations, thanks to a $16,500,000 gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Trust.  This titanosaur cast, which strecthes across 122 feet of Stanley Field Hall, has been dubbed Máximo.

yKVqNeywFigure 1 Credit: John Weinstein, The Field Museum Caption: This is Máximo the Titanosaur and Carl Akeley’s African Elephant Group in Stanley Field Hall at The Field Museum of Natural History.

The Field Museum has over 30,000,000 artifacts and specimens.  Over 150 scientists, conservators, and collections staff members work there.

The address is 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605.  The phone number is (312) 922-9410.  The Website U.R.L. is https://www.fieldmuseum.org/.


[1] “Famed Ayer Art Treasures Go On Block This Week,” Chicago Tribune, September 24, 1932, p. 6

[2] “Shows Bronze Group,” The New York Times, 10 January, 1933, p. 25

[3] William Mullen and Alex Bordens, “Learning from Sue,” Chicago Tribune, 16 May, 2010, Section 1, p. 4

See also William Mullen, “T. Rex Proving to be $8.3 Million Bargain for Field Museum,” Chicago Tribune, 16 May, 2010, Section 1, p. 4

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