Africa - Field Museum

Africa is an interesting exhibit focusing primarily African culture before the strong influence of European conquest. It is sizeable exhibit, but obviously covering a large continent in much detail is impossible, I like the way the museum focuses on specific details from specific areas: starting with the celebration of the holiday Tabaski in Dakar, Senegal, then moving to the royal family of the Bamum people in Cameroon.

Click More Information for other details about the exhibit, but first a warning for parents of young children: the end of the exhibit covers slavery and the slave trade. This section is significant, including a walk-through model of part of a slave trading boat, so it’s not something you can whisk them through quickly. For young children who aren’t ready for this content yet, I encourage you to still go through the very good Africa exhibit: in More Information, I include where to turn back to avoid that material.


Various sections cover art, industry, geology, animals, commerce, and other topics, typically focusing on that topic in a specific locale. In the far back are a giraffe, rhino, and hippo which I like a lot; you’ll then move to the next section and start working your way back to Stanley Field Hall. I really like the next few areas, which discuss various climates from the mountains to the Sahara, and include interesting details about how trade works through the Sahara. Shortly after this, you’ll see a motorbike with many cassette tapes on the back. If you want to avoid the slavery section, here is where you’ll need to turn back. You can cross over to the entrance side of Africa without too much trouble, then work your way back to Stanley Field Hall. If you have children who are ready to handle the material about slavery, however, I’d encourage you to go through it. It’s a very well designed and informative section and, for better or worse, avoids particularly brutal depictions of slavery.