Tag Archives: Museums

How to Do MAPH on a Budget: Part 3

Hi, MAPH!  It’s been a gorgeous autumn in Chicago which means it’s a great time to see what the city has to offer outside our beloved Hyde Park.  And the good news is that there is a lot to do for just a little money!  Here’s the final installment of the series “How to Do MAPH on a Budget.”  

10 Things to Do in Chicago for $10 or Less:

Chicago_Skyline_from_John_Hancock_96th_floorIt would be really easy to hang out in Hyde Park from September to June, but it would be a bummer to come up for air in June and realize that you’ve missed out on LIVING IN CHICAGO. Even though it takes a few minutes to hop on the #6 and ride downtown, it’s worth the time and effort to spend some time experiencing Chicago as a human being, rather than simply as an exhausted and over-worked graduate student.

• Be a tourist in downtown Chicago

There are a lot of fun and iconic things to see in downtown Chicago, and it costs nothing to run around for a day and play tourist! Here’s a quick list of some things to check out: Cloud Gate (the Bean), Pritzker Pavilion, the Lurie Gardens, Maggie Daley Park, Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, and the Crown Fountain (those are the walls with the faces that spit!).

The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave.)

Art_Institute_of_Chicago_Lion_Statue_(2-D)It’s easy to get to the Art Institute and, more importantly, it’s FREE for students with their University of Chicago ID. Channel your inner Ferris Bueller and enjoy the incredible range of exhibits this museum has to offer. Because you get in for FREE, it’s easy to come back over-andover to see the whole museum as well as rotating exhibits.




The Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.)

The MCA is a little more difficult to get to, but it’s definitely worth the trek. Plus, if you take the #6 bus downtown, you can walk through the Magnificent Mile on your way to the MCA! This museum is also FREE with your University of Chicago ID, and you’ll have the opportunity to see, hear, and experience a wide range of artistic pieces.

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (756 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

This is a small but phenomenal museum devoted to promoting public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of intuitive and outsider art. The entrance fee is $5, but you will get the opportunity to see a different type of museum while seeing Chicago via the Blue Line. My favorite exhibit at the Intuit is the Henry Darger Room!

Bike the Lakefront Trail

Chicago_LFT_GCBiking the Lakefront Trail is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. As you head towards downtown Chicago, the view of the city is absolutely breathtaking, and you get to see some interesting pieces of public art that you would miss riding the CTA or driving. If you have a bike or can borrow one from a friend, this is FREE, but if you don’t have a bike, rent a DIVVY! These blue bikes are available all over Hyde Park, and the rental fee is $9.95 for 24 hours. NOTE: the 24 hour fee can be tricky! You have to check the bike in every 30 minutes at one of the DIVVY stations, or you will get charged an extra fee. The good news: there are plenty of DIVVY check-in stations along the Lakefront Trail.

Lincoln Park Zoo & Conservatory (2001 N. Clark St.)

Lincoln_Park_ConservatoryI was amazed to find that Chicago has a FREE zoo, but I was shocked to find that the Lincoln Park Zoo is large and well-stocked. Not only does the zoo have a baby sloth right now, but they have everything that you could want from a zoo: lemurs, gorillas, snakes, birds, aardvarks, giraffes. As if naked mole rats were not enough, the zoo is on the same grounds as the FREE Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens. With four display houses, I was blown away by the number and variety of plants that are displayed. Do you know what a sensitive plant is??

The Signature Room at the 95th Floor (The John Hancock Building, 875 N. Michigan Ave.)

While the restaurant on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building is expensive, you can headA date with a view up to the bar and get an INCREDIBLE view of Chicago for less than $10. With a 360º view of the city from above, this is a great place to get a drink with your friends, date, or family. Beers and non-alcoholic drinks are $8-$10, but cocktails are reasonably priced around $15. Not 21? Head over to the bar before 5pm to get in before the evening shift. While the John Hancock building is not quite as tall as the Willis Tower, this is an affordable and delicious way to get a great view of the city on a budget. In my opinion, I would rather pay $10 and get a drink at the Hancock than spend $20 to get to the top of the Willis Tower without a tasty beverage.

The Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.)

The Empty Bottle is a fantastic bar that offers live music 7 days a week. Every Friday afternoon at 5:30pm, you can get in for free to hear some Hard Country Honky-Tonk from The Hoyle Brothers. Not a fan of Honky-Tonk? You can also hear a variety of free music on Mondays at 9pm! If you have a few dollars to spend, The Empty Bottle has something for everyone at least one day each week.

Quimby’s Bookstore (1854 W. North Ave.)

5471839749_2fd8162dab_bQuimby’s is an absolutely incredible independent bookstore that specializes in zines, small press, and unusual publications. There are so many funky, beautiful, bizarre books in this store, and I always found something to love when I went. One of the great things about Quimby’s is that they have a lot of books from Chicago-based artists, so it’s a cool way to see what the independent book-scene in Chicago looks like. Not only do they have fun events (I met Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti at a Daniel Clowes signing here!) and handmade books, but prices start at $1.00.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography (600 S. Michigan Ave.)

Robert_Mapplethorpe_ExhibitionHoused in Columbia College, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is a FREE museum with rotating exhibitions. This museum is intimate and presents photographs with a wide range of aesthetics and technologies. Each time that I have visited the MoCP, I have been blown away by the exhibitions.

How to Do MAPH on a Budget: Part 2

MAPHletes! You are sprinting towards mid-quarter and keeping up a great pace! You’re starting to feel a bit of chill in the air, and it can be easy to just hole up in the Regenstein and study. (Note: studying is good and generally encouraged.) But while it’s still livable outside you might also want to explore more of Hyde Park and clear your mind. What better way to do so than with free stuff? To point you in that direction, here’s the second installment of Morgan Podraza’s “How to Do MAPH on a Budget.”  Enjoy!

10 Free Things to Do in Hyde Park:

blogpicAIf you live in Hyde Park, it’s going to be difficult to get out of Hyde Park during MAPH. For me, I was always thinking things like: “but that hour that I spend traveling back-and-forth could be spent in an attempt to understand what Lauren Berlant means by a slow death.” Don’t worry! There are plenty of great things to do in HP between paragraphs of LB.

The Smart Museum of Art (5550 S. Greenwood Ave.)

This museum is located on campus and collaborates with scholars to “establish itself as a driving force for creative thinking through the arts at the University of Chicago.” The exhibits include Asian art, contemporary art, something referred to as “old master” European art, and modern art/ design.

The Oriental Institute (1155 E. 58th Street)


This museum is located on campus between the Quad and the Booth school. Not only does the Oriental Institute have amazing artifacts of the ancient Near East, including a statue of King Tut, but the museum also offers free programs and events throughout the year. An orientation week event, for example, is “Bulls and Buns:” get some of Anne Sather’s famous cinnamon rolls while you check out collections from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Israel!

Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive)

The Museum of Science and Industry is a great building with an interesting history, but it is also HUGE. The bottom level has an entire WWII German U-505 submarine. While the museum can be expensive to visit most days, there are a bunch of FREE DAYS. Just bring your student ID, and you can spend the entire day learning about everything from robots to humpback whales.

Promontory Point


Promontory Point (known also as The Point) has an incredible view of the city and is a lovely place to lay in the sun, or under the trees, and relax. The Point also has a few fire pits, which are the perfect places to eat s’mores and enjoy the company of other MAPHers, but you will need to either get there early to reserve a pit or potentially hang out with some other Pointers.


57th Street Beach (57th street and Lake Shore Drive)

As a New Mexican, I was so excited to live next to an actual body of water with an actual beach. 57th Street Beach is a lovely beach and a short walk from Promontory Point. Bring something cold to drink and a book to read (perhaps Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1) for a warm day in the sand.  (Editor’s note: our warm days might be behind us… But the Point and beach are looking beautiful in their autumnal dressings!)

Osaka Japanese Garden (6401 S. Stony Island Ave.)

blogpic3The Osaka Japanese Garden is a zen-like refuge from the fast-pace of Chicago and MAPH. While the Garden closed for renovations this past spring, I believe that it should be re-opened this upcoming spring.



The Arts Incubator (301 E. Garfield Blvd.)

The Arts Incubator fosters the relationship between public life and art through arts education, community events, exhibitions, performances, and talks. One of the weekly events that I enjoyed was Committed Knitters, where you can bring your coffee and current knitting project to meet other knitters and learn new techniques!

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 East 60th Street)

blogpic4The Logan Center is that crazy grey, glass building that stands across the Midway—my favorite building on campus. There is always something free to enjoy in the Logan Center: the Cabaret Series happens every other week and includes everything from string quartets to slam poets; every Sunday you can listen to music from the Sunday Song Styles performances in the café; and there are always exhibitions of contemporary art throughout the building.

The Experimental Station (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.)

The Experimental Station is located south of the Midway and hosts a variety of artistic and cultural events, including music, theater, art exhibitions, workshops, and lectures. It is also the home of the 61st Street Farmers Market, which happens every Saturday from 9AM-2PM throughout the year (even in the winter!).

University of Chicago Events

blogpicTake advantage of all of the amazing, free events that the University of Chicago offers students! There are so many events to enjoy on campus: the student circus, yoga classes, tea & pipes at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, lectures by world-renowned faculty, the Blessing of the Animals, Pet Love (the University brings therapy dogs onto campus, and you just pet them!), and more. To keep track of all the events and happenings, download the University of Chicago app.

Chicagoland of the Free

In a past post we covered Chicago Transit- here is another chance to put it to use, with  free or inexpensive summer activities here in Chicago. Go forth and explore without breaking the bank!


Botanical Garden’s Employee of the Month


Chicago Botanic Garden:

Admission to the garden is free daily, though parking costs $25 dollars. So it is completely free if you bike. They also host concerts and other evening events. Continue reading