Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Free museum days at Chicago's best museums can save family outings from a hefty price tag
Field Museum
Photograph: Courtesy the Field Museum
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As much as we love stopping in to Chicago's best museums and cultural institutions, admission prices aren't decreasing and even a couple of tickets to the latest exhibition can eat into your budget. Thankfully, it's entirely possible to take in masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago or gaze at tropical fish while strolling through Shedd Aquarium without spending a dime. We've rounded up the best free museum days some of the city's most popular institutions. You'll need to be an Illinois resident to take advantage of many of these offers (our apologies to thrifty tourists), but that's one of the perks of living in Chicago.

Museums with free admission days

Museums, Science and technology

Adler Planetarium

icon-location-pin Museum Campus

Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 21-22, 29-31
February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28
April 2-4, 9-11
June 3-5, 10-13
September 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27
October 7-9, 14-16
November 8, 11
December 2-3, 7, 12-13

Museums, Art and design

Art Institute of Chicago

icon-location-pin Grant Park

Free to Illinois residents 5–8pm Thursdays. Also free to children under 14 and Chicago teens under 18 at all times.

 

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Bronzeville Children's Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Bronzeville Children's Museum
Museums, Childhood

Bronzeville Children's Museum

icon-location-pin Calumet Heights

Free admission for children ages 3–9 on the first and third Saturday of each month. Free admission is always offered to members, as well as active and retired military personnel.

 

Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Brookfield Zoo

icon-location-pin Suburbs

Free admission Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday through February 28, 2019

Free admission is always available for active, reserve and retired military personnel with proper ID.

 

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Things to do, Literary events

Chicago Botanic Garden

icon-location-pin Suburbs

Chicago Botanic Garden has free admission daily, though keep parking fees in mind ($25 per car, $10 senior citizens on Tuesdays, $30 per van, $65 per limousine, minibus, bus and RV). The Metra Union Pacific North line stops just outside the gates, which means you can avoid parking fees if you're up for a train ride.

Museums, Childhood

Chicago Children's Museum

icon-location-pin Streeterville

Free Thursday evenings from 5–8pm.

The first Sunday of every month is free for children 15 and younger. Active and retired military personnel receive free admission every day.

Teachers, firefighters and police officers receive $12.95 admission every day.

EBT cardholders receive admission for up to six people for $3. Groups must have at least one child 15 years old or younger.

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Museums, History

Chicago History Museum

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

Free every Tuesday to Illinois residents between 12:30–9pm. Also free on holidays: MLK Day, Presidents' Day, March 4 and July 4. Excludes January 2, January 9, December 18th & December 25th.

Free for non–Illinois resident children 12 and younger and Illinois residents under 18 daily. City of Chicago residents receive a $2 discount with valid ID.

Free to members of DuSable Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art and Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

Free to all active duty military, all veterans, Chicago Police and Fire Departments and Illinois teachers with valid ID.

$3 admission with proof of EBT or WIC card.

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Museums, Art and design

DePaul Art Museum

icon-location-pin Sheffield & DePaul

**Closed until new exhibitions open on January 17**

Free admission daily.

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Museums, Science and technology

The Field Museum

icon-location-pin Museum Campus

Active military personnel and Illinois teachers receive complimentary admission.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 21
February 1-28
April 5-7
May 2
June 26–28

$3 admission to families who show an EBT or WIC card (maximum of six people)

Museums, History

Glessner House Museum

icon-location-pin Near South Side

Free admission every Wednesday and for children 5 years old and younger year-round. Tours are always free to members of the museum and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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InternationMuseumofSurgicalScience.jpg
Photograph: Courtesy of the IMSS
Things to do, Literary events

International Museum of Surgical Science

icon-location-pin Gold Coast

Free admission for Illinois residents with valid ID or proof of residency every Tuesday. 

Free for children three and under.

 

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Photograph: Oak Brook Terrace Hotels/Flickr
Museums, Art and design

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

icon-location-pin Suburbs

Free admission every Friday, year round. Active military personnel and children under 7 receive free admission daily. Parking is also free. 

Things to do, Literary events

Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)

icon-location-pin Magnificent Mile

Free admission every Tuesday. Also free everyday for active military personnel and their families, children 18 and under, Loyola University Chicago faculty and staff, Loyola students, members of the clergy and employees from other museums (all with valid ID).

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Museums, Art and design

Museum of Contemporary Art

icon-location-pin Streeterville

Free every Tuesday for Illinois residents with ID year-round. Free for military personnel and veterans, members of police and fire departments and children 12 and under.

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Museums, Science and technology

Museum of Science and Industry

icon-location-pin Hyde Park

Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 7–10, 14–17, 21–24, 28–31
February 4–7, 11–14, 19–21, 25–28

 

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Photograph: Chris Strong
Museums, Natural history

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents with ID. Free for children 3 and younger and members.

Free admission for Illinois teachers with valid school ID



Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Shedd Aquarium

icon-location-pin Museum Campus

Illinois Resident Discount Days offer free general admission for Illinois residents with ID.

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents include:

January 17-21
February 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-28

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