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Shedd Aquarium
Photograph: Grace Allen

Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

Plan your next museum outing around these upcoming free days.

Zach Long
Emma Krupp
Written by
Zach Long
&
Emma Krupp
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Planning a visit your favorite Chicago museum anytime soon? Before you shell out for pricey entrance tickets, check to make sure you're not missing out on free admission days. Some of Chicago's top cultural institutions—including beloved spots like the Field Museum, Art Institute and Museum of Science and Industry—offer gratis entry on select dates for Illinois residents, offering up their world-class collections sans expensive ticket prices. No upcoming free dates at your museum of choice? For even more free things to do in Chicago, take a look through all the other local museums that are free or donation-only year-round. Consult our list of upcoming free days and perennially free museums in Chicago below and get ready to save some cash.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best things to do in Chicago

Upcoming free museum days in Chicago

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  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Hyde Park
  • price 2 of 4

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents: January 9–12; February 1, 2, 7–9, 11, 13, 14, 16; March 1, 2, 7, 13, 14; April 21, 25; May 2, 4, 9, 17, 18; June 1, 14; September 6, 7, 12, 13–15, 19, 20, 26, 27; October 4, 5, 10, 11, 17, 18; November 1, 8

Free entry year-round for the following groups:  Active military, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers, EBT or WIC cardholders (for up to two adults and six children under 18) and Illinois teachers. 

  • Attractions
  • Zoo and aquariums
  • Museum Campus
  • price 3 of 4

Upcoming free days for Illinois residents: January 13–17; February 7–11, 14–18

Free entry year-round for the following groups: Active military, Chicago police officers, Chicago firefighters and Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin teachers. 

 

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  • Museums
  • History
  • Andersonville
  • price 1 of 4

Free admission on the second Tuesday of each month.

Free entry year-round for the following groups: Children under 1

 

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Chicago museums that are always free

  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • Suburbs
  • price 2 of 4

Free admission daily, though you'll need to preregister for timed entry online and pay parking fees ($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.

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