Founded in 1856, the original Chicago Historical Society was our city’s first cultural institution. Over 160 years, one name change, and a spectacular reinvention later, we are the only major institution that makes all of Chicago its subject; from our public programs to our cherished archives and collections, we bring together the people, events, and identities that make Chicago, Chicago.

To continue to do this, we need to re-imagine our physical spaces to create bold and accessible attractions that will share Chicago’s stories for generations to come.


We will make our exhibition and gallery spaces more interactive and engaging for visitors of all ages so that everyone can immerse themselves in Chicago history.

We will re-conceptualize the "L" car and take visitors on a journey throughout the city across time. Coupled with a digital display of the history of the rail system, we will guide guests through the history of Chicago's neighborhoods, arts, culture, and industries.

In addtion, our costume exhibition space on the second floor will be refurbished, nearly doubling the space of our current costume gallery providing an ideal environment to highlight our world-renowned collection of historical clothing.



Wrapping around the Museum, the new Outdoor History Experience will be an interactive destination that shares Chicago’s culture and stories while respecting the integrity of historic Lincoln Park. 

New landscaping will beautify the space, making it a true public destination.

History Trail
We will connect landmarks from the Chicago Fire artifact to the Abraham Lincoln statue and Couch family tomb, by turning the trails that border the Museum into a History Trail. We will install interactive “Discovery Stations” that will help visitors explore the park.

The plaza will become a welcoming space accompanied by signage with a clear message that this space and this Museum are for everyone.
Welcoming Landmark
New signage at the corner of Clark and LaSalle will welcome visitors to the Museum and the park and feature a large artifact from the Great Chicago Fire that visitors can interact with.

Chicago Story Tunnel

We will turn the pedestrian tunnel under LaSalle Drive into an exploration of Chicago History through image and color. Passing through this sensory experience will signal the visitors’ entrance to the Museum and a beautified public space.

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