University of Chicago - 10 Great Things to See and Do

All are Open to the Public

The University of Chicago is one of the premiere educational institutions in the country, and, to date, it has tallied more than 80 Nobel Prize winners among its faculty, researchers, and students. It's also a lovely and historic Gothic campus, which is always worthy of a stroll. Find tips to get the most out of your visit. All of the choices on this list are generally open to the public.

To help you plan your visit, you can find the University of Chicago's interactive campus maps here. Also, see our list of Top 10 Great Things to See and Do in Hyde Park.

  • 01 of 10
    ••• Nisian Hughes/Getty Images

    This immense, non-denominational chapel celebrates all faiths and serves as a community focal point for celebrations, graduations, and commemorations. Check their list of events for musical concerts, worship services, tours, and more.

    Location:
    5850 South Woodlawn Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60637

  • 02 of 10

    Henry Moore Sculpture - "Nuclear Energy"

    I have always found this sculpture by Henry Moore chilling. The bronze is titled "Nuclear Energy," and it commemorates the creation of the first sustained nuclear chain reaction, which was realized by a team of University of Chicago scientists led by Enrico Fermi. This knowledge eventually led to the creation of the nuclear bomb and, subsequently, to its use in Hiroshima. The sculpture was unveiled on December 2, 1967.

    Location:
    Ellis Avenue between 56th Street and 57th Street
    Chicago, IL
  • 03 of 10

    Don't be fooled by the Middle Ages-invoking name: this hard-to-find gallery has been showing cutting edge artwork since 1915. It was among the first galleries in the United States to exhibit Picasso, Brancusi, and Miro among others and the first gallery to ever host a solo exhibition of Alexander Calder and Ferdinand Leger. A must-see for any serious or curious art fan in Chicago.

    Location:
    5811 S. Ellis Avenue
    Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
    Chicago, IL 60637

  • 04 of 10

    Get in touch with your inner archaeologist at this renowned museum dedicated to the ancient Near East. The museum has an incredible collection spanning the Near Eastern civilizations and featuring mummies, ancient pottery, and much more.

    Location:
    1155 East 58th Street
    Chicago, IL 60637

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art draws on its location in the heart of the University of Chicago campus to offer an interdisciplinary approach to presenting and exploring the visual arts. Many of their exhibits are accompanied by a broad spectrum of programming designed to enhance and promote the presented works.

    Location:
    5550 South Greenwood Avenue
    Chicago IL 60637

  • 06 of 10
    The physical heart of the University of Chicago is at 58th Street and University Avenue. 58th Street leads into the quadrangles. Wandering among the quads is a lovely stroll. The Oriental Institute and the Renaissance Society are located nearby. Check out the botany pond to see what's in bloom.
  • 07 of 10

    This is probably the building that is the least accessible to the public on this list, but I included it for two reasons. First, it's by one of my favorite architects, the renowned Eero Saarinen. Secondly, it's where Barack Obama taught before he became President of the United States.

    During Barack Obama's campaign for President of the United States, the University of Chicago media office was besieged with requests for clarification about his status and experience while teaching at their law school. They issued this clarification about his work at the University.

    Location:
    1111 East 60th Street
    Chicago, IL 60637

  • 08 of 10

    For more than 50 years, this professional theater has been staging classic plays with remarkable results.

    Location:
    5535 S. Ellis Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60637

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    The University of Chicago Folklore Society stages this showcase of folk talent from around the country ever year, usually in February.

  • 10 of 10

    The Midway Plaisance

    I still find it hard to visualize the 1893 World's Fair whenever I stand on this spot, but this is the former "plaisance" where that major historical shin-dig went down. It hosted the first Ferris Wheel as well as concession stands and markets. Now, it's part of the university's campus. In the winter, the city runs an ice skating rink in the center, which is open to the public.

    Read more about the Midway Plaisance's role in the 1893 World's Fair.

    Location:
    Between 59th and 60th Streets on the North and South and Cottage Grove and roughly Harper on the West and East.
    Chicago, IL