Press Release: Field Museum’s Crown Family PlayLab gets a refresh and is now open daily

November 21, 2019 Exhibition

The Field Museum’s Crown Family PlayLab is now open daily from 10:00am–3:30pm, offering early learners ages 2-6 and their caregivers a dedicated play space and interactive hands-on experiences within the museum.

Over the last decade, the PlayLab has served more than 1 million early learners and their families. It is a  play-focused introduction to the larger museum for our youngest visitors. A series of immersive activity areas focused on natural science encourage children to learn about the world through play. 

In 2018, the Crown Family made a generous gift to renovate the PlayLab they originally funded in 2008.  The renovation took place over the summer, and focused on enhancements for today’s learners and to continue the museum’s accessibility efforts, which include Sensory Saturdays, a free monthly program designed for families with children with disabilities. Visitors will encounter freshly painted walls and flooring, as well as a refresh to fan-favorites in the 7,200 sq foot space.

"Our family has been involved with the Field Museum for more than 50 years and we are delighted to be a partner in the museum's efforts to engage Chicago’s youngest explorers and visitors with disabilities in the Crown Family PlayLab” shared Bill Kunkler, Field Trustee.
"This important modernization would not have been possible without the support of the Crown Family,” says Richard Lariviere, president of the Field. “We’re grateful for their initial investment in early learners a decade ago and for this wonderful new gift, which enabled us to renovate the PlayLab to meet the needs of today’s audiences."

Updates to the Playlab include: 

The Science Lab

The Science Lab includes eye-catching specimens that can be explored using real scientific tools, including magnifying lenses, scales, and measuring tapes. A new MicroEYE Discovery microscope allows young explorers to zoom and focus on real specimens on their own, and new light tables allow youngsters to experiment with colors and lights. 

Dino Dig

When early learners head over to the Dino Dig area, they’ll notice new dinosaur nests, costumes, and puppets. A budding love for paleontology is encouraged by using brushes to dig for dinosaur bones in field jackets. The space has a new wall graphic of SUE that directly showcases what fossils children find and helps them make a connection to what they’ve uncovered. 


At the Pueblo, the museum’s Native American Advisory Group worked with exhibition developers to improve the space’s cultural accuracy. Updates include a new mural showcasing the full landscape of the Pueblo, four new colored corn stalks, and several striking photographs of the current day Pueblo people. 

Illinois Woodland 

Children can make their onstage debut as they act out a play as their favorite Illinois woodland animal. The experience is enhanced by brand-new costumes —for both adults and children— and a renovated replica of a log that brings guests more in touch with nature. 


The updated BookNook makes storytime a culturally enriching experience. The nook is now home to a selection of natural history books that highlight inclusive and diverse perspectives. Copies are available in multiple languages to accommodate guests of varying linguistic backgrounds. 

Rhythm Room

If children are feeling sleepy after relaxing in the nook, the Rhythm Room is sure to get them back on their feet. The multigenerational Rhythm Room has new music stands and instruments that let children experiment with sound and cultivate their inner musician. 

Discovery Play Studio

The Discovery Play Studio is a new addition that includes a 6-foot wide magnetic wall, a building blocks station, and a wheelchair-accessible sensory table. Children can combine their curiosity and creativity while building imaginative structures.

The entire PlayLab engages children through experiential learning and a culture of exploration. Early learning techniques encourage budding junior scientists to engage with the world around them, and updates were made to reflect our constantly evolving planet while stimulating young minds and uncovering solutions to a better future.