Looking for summer fun? Try a museum

Not every summer activity involves sun and sand. To that end, suburban and Chicago museums offer exhibitions to inform and entertain.

Here are some suggestions.

Learn about the origins of Duck Duck, left, Donkey Hodie, Bob Dog, Purple Panda and other characters featured in the PBS children's show “Donkey Hodie” at the Elmhurst Art Museum's new exhibition, “Designing Donkey Hodie: From Make-Believe to Someplace Else.” Courtesy of Fred Rogers Productions

Suburban museums

“Designing Donkey Hodie: From Make-Believe to Someplace Else”: May 18 through Aug. 12 at the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst. The family-friendly exhibition introduces visitors to the world of the live-action puppet series “Donkey Hodie,” a PBS Kids spinoff from “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” that chronicled the adventures of Donkey and her pals. The display includes puppets, storyboards, drawings, models, set pieces and other props from the show, along with hands-on activities. (630) 834-0202 or

The Elmhurst Art Museum's new exhibition “Designing Donkey Hodie: From Make-Believe to Someplace Else” takes visitors into the world of the PBS character Donkey Hodie, left, and her pals, including Purple Panda. Courtesy of Fred Rogers Productions

“Nothing but Victory”: Opening June 6 at the First Division Museum, Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton. This immersive, outdoor exhibition on the grounds of the estate commemorates June 6, 1944, the 80th anniversary of D-Day. A complementary exhibition inside recalls the D-Day service of seven well-known personalities. Additional programming includes lectures, guided tours, kids’ events and a “D-Day in Music” concert June 8. (630) 668-5161 or

Alberto Aguilar's 2023 work “Locate Everything With a Checkered Pattern in Your Home” is among the works included in the Cleve Carney Museum of Art's new exhibition, “Grid Luck: Alberto Aguilar.” Courtesy of the Cleve Carney Museum of Art

“Grid Luck: Alberto Aguilar”: June 29 through Oct. 6 at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art, McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. A Chicago-based artist who uses “whatever material is at hand to commemorate his exchanges and interactions,” Aguilar draws inspiration from the museum’s permanent collection to “re-imagine the materials and spaces within (it) to lead to new site-specific works.” (630) 942-4000 or

This photograph of Jewish refugee children arriving in London as part of the 1938 Kindertransport is among those included in the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s exhibition “Kindertransport: Rescuing Children on the Brink of War.” Courtesy of Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo, Alamy Stock Photo

“Kindertransport: Rescuing Children on the Brink of War”: May 19-Nov. 17 at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie. The exhibition chronicles the nine-month rescue program that — on the eve of World War II — transported thousands of unaccompanied, mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied European countries to the safety of Great Britain while their parents remained behind. The exhibition tells their story through personal artifacts, stories and firsthand testimony from those who lived through the “Kindertransport” program, a testament to the “resilience of the human spirit and the importance of honoring the legacy of those who endured unimaginable suffering.” (847) 967-4800 or

“Of the Earth”: Through spring 2025 at the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle. The exhibition features five large-scale sculptures created for the arboretum by Polish American artist Olga Ziemska, who used reclaimed and pruned tree branches and other materials from the arboretum’s 1,700 acres to create the works. (630) 968-0074 or

Jurassic Gardens: Ongoing at the Volo Auto Museum, 27582 Volo Village Road, Volo. The indoor exhibition consists of more than 45 lifelike, animatronic dinosaurs in a realistic-looking prehistoric habitat. The exhibition includes detailed information about species’ behavior and characteristics, along with information on dinosaur evolution, fossils and plants. (815) 390-4853 or

Chicago museums

“Designing for Change: Chicago Protest Art of the 1960s-70s”: At The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago. More than 100 posters, fliers, signs, books and buttons — many of which expressed radical ideas about race, war, gender equality and sexuality — make up the exhibition examining the imagery that accompanies the push for social change.

“Captured Earth”: May 24 through Aug. 18 at The Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The exhibit showcases artists who incorporate natural elements to explore place, ecology, and the “material and mystical qualities of the land.” (312) 663-5554 or

Arthur Jafa’s “Mickey Mouse was a Scorpio” from 2017 is among the works included in the Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition “Arthur Jafa: Works From the MCA Collection.” Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; photo by Fredrik Nilsen

“Arthur Jafa: Works From the MCA Collection”: June 1 through March 2, 2025, at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. Incorporating works from the MCA’s collection, this exhibition surveys the artist/filmmaker’s output from the last 10 years, including several videos, which are accompanied by sculptural and photographic works that illuminate Jafa’s unique, multidisciplinary approach. (312) 397-4010 or

Georgia O’Keeffe's “East River From the Shelton (East River No. 1)” is among the works featured as part of the Art Institute of Chicago's new exhibition, “Georgia O’Keeffe: “My New Yorks.” Courtesy of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum; photo by Peter S. Jacobs

“Georgia O’Keeffe: My New Yorks”: June 2 through Sept. 22 at The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The Art Institute’s exhibition is the first to seriously examine the artist’s early urban landscapes for which O’Keeffe received little attention. O’Keeffe called the paintings of New York City and its skyline her “New Yorks,” which are featured along with select works that highlight her varied subject matter.

“The Many Colors of Us”: Ongoing at The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago. Designed for kids 3-10, this exhibition helps teach children about racial and ethnic diversity through play and hands-on activities to spark self-awareness and their awareness of others. (773) 947-0600 or

The National Museum of Mexican Art’s “Ancient Huasteca Women: Goddesses, Warriors and Governors” runs through July 21. Courtesy of the National Museum of Mexican Art

“Ancient Huasteca Women: Goddesses, Warriors and Governors”: Through July 21 at The National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago. More than 130 artifacts highlight the roles women played in the Mesoamerican civilization known as the Huasteca as part of the new NMMA exhibition from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. The artifacts include recently excavated sculptures.

“007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond”: Through Oct. 27 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. MSI marks the first exhibition of its kind to focus on the technology behind the long-running film franchise. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at gadgets featured in the James Bond movies and the real-life inventions they inspired, including the prototype jet pack from “Thunderball.”

Visitors learn about a variety of biofluorescent marine species courtesy of a towering display of glowing scale models as part of The Field Museum’s “Unseen Oceans” exhibition. Courtesy of The Field Museum

“Unseen Oceans”: Through Jan. 5, 2025, at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. With this immersive exhibition incorporating floor-to-ceiling models, tanks containing live sea horses and jellies and animation, the museum introduces visitors to the world beneath the ocean’s surface. (312) 922-9410 or

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.