Run as a non-profit cultural organization, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) provides access to exhibitions, tours, events and programs for guests of all ages. Featuring a modern and historical interactive presentation of Chicago, the museum offers a fun and educational peek into the city’s world-class architecture. This new museum was opened in 2018 in its current location, working alongside the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) to provide top-rated architectural tours.
With the mission to inspire people to discover why design matters, the Chicago Architecture Foundation began in 1966 with the purpose of saving H.H. Richardson’s Glessner House, one of Chicago’s oldest residences. After successfully completing this task, the foundation then began to offer educational programs and eventually expert guided tours that have become popular for locals as well as tourists from all over the world.
Not to Miss at the Chicago Architecture Center Museum
Chicago City Model Experience. This scale model of Chicago with 4000 buildings provides an interactive opportunity for visitors to orient themselves around the city through touch screens. A film and light show bring the model to life with the story of Chicago’s growth, rebirth after the fire, and the continually changing skyline.
Skyscraper Gallery. Explore a variety of famous buildings up close in the Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery on the second floor of the CAC. From the Home Insurance Building which was one of the world’s first skyscrapers, to Wills Tower (formerly Sears Tower) which was the world’s tallest building for 25 years, visitors will be able to see a variety of famous buildings from Chicago and around the world. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peak at a 40-foot model of the Jeddah Tower which is set to be completed in Saudi Arabia in 2020 when it will become the new world’s tallest building.
Chicago Architecture Center Museum Amenities
The Chicago Architecture Center’s conveniences and amenities include:
More than just your average museum gift shop, you won’t want to miss the award-winning store at the Chicago Architecture Center. From t-shirts and coffee mugs to architectural posters, the merchandise at the CAC gift shop is uniquely inspired by the Chicago skyline. Not only will visitors find the usual souvenirs, but you’ll also encounter functional trinkets, kids’ toys, and even kitchenware. One entire section is devoted to Chicago architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Open daily 9am-5pm.
A huge part of Chicago Architecture Center’s program is based around getting out and about in the city. To this end, more than 80 tours depart daily on boat, bus, walking, L train with expert docent guides.
The Chicago Architecture Center is committed to making its offerings accessible to all visitors. Some of the services provided to this end include:
- Sign language interpretation with one-week notice
- FM Assistive Listening System in the Grand Lecture Hall
- Family/gender neutral restroom
Chicago Architecture Center Museum Nearby Attractions
Conveniently located by the Chicago Riverwalk and Michigan Avenue, the center is not far from:
- Millennium Park
- Wrigley Building—just across the Michigan Avenue bridge
- American Writers’ Museum
- Carbide & Carbon Building (St. Jane’s)
Getting to the Chicago Architecture Center Museum
Located at 111 E Wacker Drive, Chicago IL 60601-3713, the Chicago Architecture Center can be accessed by car, on foot, by public transportation or by bicycle.
Driving to the Chicago Architecture Center is not very difficult with accessibility from Lakeshore Drive and Michigan Avenue.
Parking near the center is located at 233 N Michigan Avenue with an entrance on E. South Water Street. Other parking garages are in the River North and Loop neighborhoods.
Nearby CTA train stations are on the Brown, Green, Orange and Purple Lines at State & Lake; on the Red Line at Lake; or on the Blue Line at Clark & Lake or Washington.
Chicago’s bike sharing group, Divvy, has stations conveniently located at Wacker & Wabash or Michigan Ave & Lake Street.
When to Go to the Chicago Architecture Center Museum
The Chicago Architecture Center Museum is open every day from 9:30am-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Visits on weekday mornings are likely to be less busy, giving visitors more opportunity to have access to the exhibits.
Chicago Architecture Center Museum Insider Tips
Architecture is a big word, but it’s not just for adults! The science, design and engineering behind Chicago’s buildings is interesting for even many younger children. Get them started early by allowing them to experience the exhibits in the CAC that make architecture come alive.