Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Free museum days at Chicago's best museums can help you on save family outings and are great for holiday weekends

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Photograph: J.B. Spector
Advertising

Chicago museums are some of the most popular attractions in the city (and among the finest institutions in the world), but the price of admission can add up fast—especially if you're visiting multiple places in a single day. Luckily, it's possible to stroll through the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago or get lost in the Museum of Science and Industry's mirror maze without having to reach into your wallet. Popular institutions throughout the city offer free museum days, allowing Illinois residents to spend a gratis afternoon or evening enjoying the exhibitions (another great perk of living in Chicago). Whether you're looking for things to do in the Loop or want to explore a collection of vintage buttons in Logan Square, we've assembled a long list of free museum days Chicago residents and visitors can take advantage of.

Free museum days in Chicago

1
AdlerPlanetarium.venue.jpg
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:

September 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27
October 7–9, 14–16
November 8, 11
December 2, 3, 7, 12, 13

2
ArtInstituteOfChicago01.venue.jpg
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.

 

Advertising
3
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.

 

4
393.wk.at.pw.busybeaverbuttonparty.jpg
Shopping, Jewelry

Busy Beaver Button Museum

icon-location-pin Logan Square

Busy Beaver's Logan Square headquarters host the Button Museum, a collection of more than 9,000 historical pin-back buttons. Admission is always free Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm, but donations are welcome.

Advertising
5
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:

June 26–28

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

6
SheddAquarium.venue.jpg
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:

June 17, 18, 24, 25
August 26, 27
September 3, 4, 9–11, 16–18, 23–25, 30
October 1, 2
December 4

Advertising
7
271.around.ExhibitABrookfield.jpg
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Brookfield Zoo

icon-location-pin Suburbs

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

 

8
Chicago Botanic Garden
Things to do, Literary events

Chicago Botanic Garden

icon-location-pin Suburbs

Chicago Botanic Garden offers free admission daily, though keep parking fees in mind ($25 per car, $10 for 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 ride the train.

Advertising
9
019.td.tinkeringlab29.jpg
Museums, Childhood

Chicago Children's Museum

icon-location-pin Streeterville

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.

10
ChicagoHistoryMuseum.venue.jpg
Museums, History

Chicago History Museum

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

Free every Tuesday to Illinois residents between 12:30–9pm. Admission is also free on holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day and July 4.

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.

Advertising
Advertising
14
GlessnerHouse.Venue.jpg
Museums, History

Glessner House Museum

icon-location-pin Near South Side

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

Advertising
15
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.

16
LeatherArchives.venue.jpg
Photograph: Marina Makropoulos
Museums

Leather Archives and Museum

While this museum devoted to leather, BDSM, kink and fetish probably isn't appropriate for children, adults can enjoy free admission to the collection every Thursday.

Advertising
18
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. 

Advertising
19
LoyolaUniversityMuseumofArtluma.venue.jpg
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).

Advertising
Advertising
23
MuseumofContemporaryArt1.Venue.jpg
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.

Advertising
Advertising
28
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.

Advertising

Barnebys Ecomm Widget

More to explore

Advertising