Upcoming Exhibits at Field Museum: Biomechanics and Wild Color

Coming Fall 2021: Biomechanics and Wild Color

This fall, Field Museum will open two immersive temporary exhibitions to share the natural world with Chicago. Biomechanics: The Machine Inside will return after a national tour to give visitors a peek at the biological engineering that lets animals jump, swim, and fly. Meanwhile, the museum will premiere Wild Color, which will highlight the science behind nature’s colors. Both shows are highly immersive and interactive, with lots of photo-worthy moments and experiences for museum-goers of all ages. 

Biomechanics, one of the Field Museum’s most popular traveling exhibitions that made its Chicago debut in 2014, will open on September 3. The exhibit gives visitors a closer look into how animals — including humans– move and survive against the crushing forces of gravity, the pressure of water and wind, and the attacks of predators. Visitors will learn through displays and interactives about how the bodies of the animals we love work like machines– for example, visitors can operate a pump to learn how giraffes’ hearts can pump blood all the way up their long necks. The exhibition also gives visitors a chance to learn about animals they might not have heard of before, like luna moths that use their antennae to smell a potential mate from 7 miles away. In addition to highlighting nature itself, each section of the exhibition showcases technological breakthroughs that were inspired by nature’s ingenuity, like Velcro, wind turbines, and chainsaws.

On October 22, Wild Color will transport visitors into an immersive experience with rooms dedicated to different colors of the light spectrum present in the natural world, starting with the colors of the rainbow. Visitors will discover brilliant gems and iridescent minerals, explore the startling hues of animals that glow under ultraviolet light, and learn about a “super black” bird of paradise. The show will include vibrant visuals, large-scale media projections, and soundscapes to create multi-sensory atmospheres, and visitors will be able to see examples of nature’s colors, like shimmering, radiant hummingbirds.

Family-Friendly Weekend Events: May 14–16 and Beyond

Past Exhibit: Apsáalooke Women and Warriors

The Field Museum features the viewpoints of the Apsáalooke or Crow people using a combination of newly created artwork, historical artifacts, drawings, sculpture, paintings, photography, and fashion in this exhibition. Together the works highlight people’s roles and explore what is sacred within this Native American society where women set the foundation and bravery is honored. It is a beautiful portrait of a culture.

What to Expect at the Exhibit

Coming in off the main hall on the ground floor, my children and I entered and began watching an animated origin story that nicely set the tone of our experience. As we walked through multiple rooms, we saw that pieces from the 1800s and modern day are presented near one another, showing the deep roots from which modern artists take their inspiration. My fashionable seven-year old was drawn to the intricate beadwork and clothing.

The final room features modern high fashion designs that beautifully reference traditional details like elk tooth embellishment and beadwork.

My three-year old did not understand everything he saw, but he liked the video and a few touchable items which were mounted at kid height. He also liked the war shields which are displayed and lighted dramatically. These have never before been displayed to the public. I found them beautiful. My big kid, an animal lover, was upset to see some preserved animal bodies and heads on the shields and other pieces, so other sensitive museum-goers may as well.

Who Would Enjoy Visiting

My daughter put in nicely when she said this exhibition “would be great for anyone interested in learning about a different culture.” While my preschooler found parts interesting, it was a large and dark experience with lots of text. He was tired and less enthusiastic toward the end. It might be most interesting to kids aged seven and up, but it is appropriate for all ages if your whole family visits together.

Family-Friendly Weekend Events: May 14–16 and Beyond

Visit if you or your children are interested in:

  • Native American life, past and present.
  • Women’s voices in art.
  • Warriors and ideas about bravery.
  • LGTBQ issues and gender expression. It explores a culturally accepted third gender, batee, also known as two-spirited.
  • Fashion and beadwork.

The topics covered are great starting points for family conversations about cultures, genders, norms, and values.

Price and Schedule

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors opens Friday, March 13 and runs through April 4, 2021. As a special exhibition, it isn’t included in general admission so you’ll need to purchase either All Access tickets ($38 for adults and $29 for children ages 3-11 for Illinois residents) or Discovery Pass tickets ($32 for adults and $23 for children ages 3-11 for Illinois residents) to enter.

A smaller companion show at the Neubauer Colleguim for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago is free and open to the public at 5701 South Woodlawn Ave. Chicago, IL 60637. It runs through August 2020. The companion show features one war shield and, while I haven’t seen it, I was told by a museum representative it includes some touchable and kid-friendly features. That would be a worthwhile visit if you’re in Hyde Park.

Tips for Visiting the Field Museum

A trip to the Field Museum has been a special treat throughout my life. I loved it so much, I spent two summers working there in high school and college!

Family-Friendly Weekend Events: May 14–16 and Beyond

It is a bit of a splurge for the average family to visit. Basic admission runs $80 for two adults and two kids and that doesn’t include parking. Family memberships are $150, which is less than two visits for most families, so it may be a worthwhile investment to get the membership.

When my family goes, we always make a day of it. We pack a lunch and have a picnic near the north entrance and enjoy the boats, runners, and quintessential skyline view. Food carts and a lower-level cafeteria are available, but we take advantage of the museum’s policy to allow you to leave and reenter the same day.

We always visit our absolute favorites and my top picks for kids: Sue the T-rex, the mummies, and the Pawnee Earth Lodge. The basement has private and quiet mother’s rooms.

The Field Museum
1400 South Lakeshore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

We’re always adding more activities for kids to our site! Check back regularly or sign up to get our email updates (check the right-hand sidebar) to stay in the loop.

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie and her kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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