Black History Month

Celebrate with online events and stories about African Americans’ contributions to science and museums.

A man wearing a black suit stands looking into a exhibition display case.

Throughout February, hear from Field staff, collaborators, and guest speakers about their lived experiences in museums and the sciences. Learn about the contributions of African American scientists, artists, and icons—past and present.

Virtual events

Commemorate Black History Month with the following online events for students, families, and adults.

Plus, join in the conversation on social media. We’ll be sharing African American stories and amplifying Black voices through our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts during February and all year long.

Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable webinar

In 2021, Chicago renamed its famous lakeside street to Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive. But many remain unaware of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable’s contributions and role as Chicago’s first non-Native settler. In partnership with the DuSable Museum of African American History, we’ll discuss DuSable’s journey from Haiti to the Great Plains and how he became the first permanent non-Indigenous settler in Illinois.

This Zoom webinar takes place on February 1 at 12pm and is free to attend.

Watch the Recording

A bronze bust of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable.

Meet a Museum Insider

Hear from Field Museum staff members in a variety of different roles as they share their backgrounds and work experiences.

Meet a Museum Insider streams live on Facebook.

See the Line-up

Two people seen talking to each other via Zoom. Their backgrounds are both of Stanley Field Hall at the Field Museum.

Professional seminars

The A. Watson Armour III Research Seminar Series features Black in STEM guest speakers. Educators, students, and science professionals will share their personal career paths and discuss the challenges to and importance of BIPOC representation in the sciences.

These seminars take place on Zoom on February 9, 16, and 21 at 12pm and are free to attend. Please register in advance.

Attend Seminars

Southern Underground Railroad webinar

Tune in as we begin a conversation on the often overlooked journeys on the Southern Underground Railroad and its role in the origins of Native, African and Mexican American shared kinships.

Long before enslaved people began traveling north toward freedom, they fled west and south into Spanish Florida and Mexican territories where slavery was outlawed. Explore some of this lesser known 17th through 19th century U.S. history from the perspective of the self liberated.

This Zoom webinar takes place on February 17 at 6pm and is free to attend.

Watch the Recording

An illustrated map of possible routes that fugitives escaping slavery took across Texas.

Shop featured items online

Celebrate Black History Month with special merchandise, books, and toys. All purchases help support the Field’s work.

Browse All Products

A selection of items available for purchase at the museum store, including a stack of books, a mug, a greeting card and enamel pins.

Recommended reading at home

Museum staff can participate in a Black History Month book club. In the spirit of group reading, here are recommended reads for adults and kids from our friends at the Chicago Public Library. Purchase select titles from the Field Museum store or find them at your local library.

Books for adults

Books for kids

Learn about Carl Cotton

If you’ve ever walked through our taxidermy halls, there’s a good chance you saw the handiwork of Carl W. Cotton.

Starting in 1947, he created realistic animal figures at the Field for nearly 25 years. Unlike most taxidermists then—and today—Cotton was African American. Exhibitions Developer Tori Lee recalls seeing a photo of Cotton and the journey that led her on in the blog post Finding Carl Cotton. This is part of a series on Black taxidermists that includes Art Ledger, John Edmonstone, and Sinclair Clark.

Then, find Cotton's work throughout the museum.

Carl Cotton, wearing a lab coat, sits in front of a diorama with birds. He holds an artist’s palette, and a variety of paint, brushes, and other supplies are spread out on the floor in front of him.

Cotton at work on the Nile marsh diorama in 1953. In addition to preparing every bird, he also replicated each lily pad by hand, bringing the East African habitat to life.

Visit on a free day

Every Wednesday in February, Illinois residents can visit the museum for free. 

Upcoming free days