Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

The Midwestern state of Illinois takes its name from that of a confederation of Algonquian-speaking indigenous peoples once resident in the region. Among the pre-Columbian communities based here were members of the Mississippian Culture, responsible for creating the major religious centre at Cahokia, the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. French explorers entered the area in the 1670s, but the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1763 resulted in the British assuming dominance over it, with British settlers gradually outnumbering the Algonquian-speaking natives. Having become a state in 1818, Illinois forms part of the country’s industrial belt and is home to Chicago, the nation’s third most populous city.

Archaeology & History Sites in Illinois

Cahokia Mounds State Historic State

Cahokia Mounds are the remains of what was the largest and most complex urban settlement in the USA before the arrival of European colonists. The earliest evidence for human activity dates to about 500 AD, and by 1200 AD there were over 120 mounds and covered an area estimated at about six square miles. Today the archaeological site is in Cahokia Mounds State Park just east of St Louis and on the other side of the Mississippi River, which gives its name to the culture that built these impressive mounds

Reebie Storage Facility, Chicago

Colourful and bold, the façade of the Reebie Storage Warehouse is unmistakeably Egyptian in influence. And the attention to detail is striking. As one of the finest commercial uses of Egyptian revival architecture in the USA, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1979) and is a designated Chicago Landmark (1999).
The storage facility was completed in 1922, only months before the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt. So it was Ramses II that was used as the model for the two Egyptian men on either side of the entrance, which represent the two founders of the company John and William Reebie.

Tribune Tower, Chicago

Tribune Tower is a 141 m skyscraper in downtown Chicago, with neo-Gothic features. It was home to the newspaper, Chicago Tribune. What is particularly interesting about the building is the collection of some 150 fragments of great buildings and historic monuments from around the world. These include pieces from the Great Pyramid in Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, etc. Before the building was constructed correspondents for the Tribune would bring back fragments of buildings from their assignments around the world. These were then incorporated into the Tribune Towers when built between 1923 and 1925.

Museums & Art Galleries in Illinois

Art Institute of Chicago

Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago exhibits artistic traditions from around the World. With over 300,000 objects and over one million square feet, this is not only one of the leading art institutions in the United States of America, it is the second largest – following the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Although an art museum with substantial collections of modern and contemporary art, there is also much of archaeological interest on display, in particular from Europe and Asia,

Field Museum, Chicago

The Field Museum is one of three institutions that make up the Museum Campus on the lakefront of Lake Michigan in Chicago. The other two attractions are the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. Museum Campus is the most popular visitor destination in Chicago. The museum has over 24 million artefacts and specimens in four broad areas, anthropology (including archaeology), geology, botany and zoology. Of these over a million and a half are ancient objects from civilisations all over the World, including Asia and Africa. The museum has an extensive archaeological and ethnographic permanent display on the peoples of the Americas.

Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago

Archaeologists based at the Oriental Institute have been actively involved in research on the archaeology of the Near East since the end of the 19th century. The Institute’s collections come from the earlier excavations in the Near East, and they are amongst the most important collections of artefacts from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria and Turkey. Artefacts from these areas range in date from 10,000 BC to around 650 AD. In a series of extensive permanent displays, the Institute’s museum showcases just a fraction of these objects – providing an overview of the archaeology, history and art of the ancient Near East.