About the Field Museum

Our Mission:

The Field Museum connects all of us to the natural world and the human story.

A little history

Located on Chicago’s iconic Lake Michigan shore, the Field Museum opened its current building to the public in 1921—but our story began years earlier.

Our collection grew out of items on display in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the “White City.” The exposition delighted visitors with 65,000 exhibits filled with natural wonders and cultural artifacts, many of which later found a permanent home in Chicago at the newly created Field Columbian Museum. Our museum name still honors Marshall Field, who donated $1 million to make the collective dream of a permanent museum a reality. 

Since opening the Museum in 1894, our collection has grown to nearly 40 million artifacts and specimens. The breadth of our mission has expanded, too. We continue to research the objects in our collections, as well as document previously unknown species, conserve ecosystems in our backyard and across the globe, educate budding scientists, invite cross-cultural conversation, and more—all to ensure that our planet thrives for generations to come.

We're in this together

It takes hundreds of people working behind the scenes and with our visitors to operate a world-class museum.

  • From the designers who plan and build our exhibitions, to collections managers who prepare, catalog, and care for our specimens and artifacts…
  • From the staff who take care of the building, to educators ready to answer questions and help visitors explore the natural world up close…
  • From co-curators who work with Indigenous peoples to create inclusive exhibitions, to community organizers who build bridges with groups in our backyard and around the world…
  • From communicators who share our stories with the world, to tour guides and volunteers who make the Museum friendly and accessible… 

We all work together to welcome visitors through our doors and pursue our mission. Working toward a better world is a big job.

Our huge collection is just a fraction of what we do

The nearly 40 million specimens and artifacts in our collection are just the beginning of our quest to learn as much as we can about this incredible planet. Our more than 150 scientists and researchers travel to the far corners of the world in search of new discoveries and clues to what life was like hundreds, thousands, and millions of years ago. Every day we find new evidence of just how interconnected our world is, and we’re working to build stronger communities to help preserve the planet for all the diverse life that makes Earth home. We ask big questions, publish groundbreaking research for the scientific community, and craft exhibitions to capture the imagination of a public who shares our passion for science that is just plain fun. Science is for everyone. And we can’t wait to share it with you.