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Chicago Art Museum Free Days

Free Things To Do In Chicago

10 free things to do in Chicago year-round

Want to do Chicago on the cheap? There are tons of free museums, cultural attractions, and things to do all over the city. Get a tour from a local, check out cutting-edge exhibits, catch a free classical concert beneath the worlds largest Tiffany dome all for no cost.

Here are 30 free things to do to add to your budget-friendly Chicago itinerary. And dont forget to check out free museum days throughout the year.

Fall 2022 Free Museum Days In Chicago

ADLER PLANETARIUM, ChicagoFree days: WednesdaysMuseum entry is free for Illinois residents every Wednesday from 4-10 p.m. Museum entry provides access to all exhibitions and experiences entry to sky shows can be purchased at a discounted rate at checkout. All tickets must be reserved online and in advance. Free day savings: $54

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGONo Illinois resident free days posted at time of publicationIllinois residents under 14 are always free with an adult. To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance. Resident status will be verified using the zip code associated with the billing address provided.

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM, ChicagoFree days: Oct. 10Illinois residents 18 and under are always free. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online. Discounts can only be applied on tickets purchased in person. Free day savings: $38

FIELD MUSEUM, ChicagoFree days: Sept. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 Nov. 1, 2, 8, 9For Illinois residents. Must show proof of residency you can only receive free admission in person. Free basic admission on Illinois Free Days is included discounts are available for upgrades, so free day can be a great time to do the upgraded stuff youve always wanted to do. See the website to plan your trip. Free day savings: $94

See Some Of Historys Most Famous Artworks Completely Free This March

Chicago has one of the best collections of museums and attractions on the planet. Visiting all of them can get a little costly, especially if youre taking the family. So its understandable why free admission days generate quite a lot of hype!

Luckily for us, the wonderful variety of museums and attractions in the Windy City love to announce random free days throughout the year offering locals the chance to see some of the worlds most awe-inspiring wonders regularly, for absolutely zero cost.

Recently weve been treated to free days at Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum but Art Institute of Chicago, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world, is also free Mondays, Thursdays, & Fridays through March 17th.

Happy New Year from the Art Institute of Chicago! Thank you for being part of our vibrant museum community.

We are excited to offer free admission to all Illinois residents every weekdaynow through March 17.

See upcoming exhibitions in 2022:

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How To Get To The Field Museum

The museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive at the Museum Campus.

We recommend using this Google map link for directions to the museum.

If youre taking public transportation, there are a few CTA stops within walking distance.

  • Bus #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express/Museum Campus.
  • Bus #130 Museum Campus .
  • Exit at the Roosevelt Red Line Stop servicing Red, Orange and Green Line and offers connections to #146 bus, located at State Street and Roosevelt Road.

TIP: Keep in mind that hop-on-hop-off bus tours in Chicago have stops near the museum!

Museum Of Science And Industry

Free Museum Days Chicago Art Institute

Admission at the Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents on select dates throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days in 2022 at the Museum of Science and Industry include:

  • May 2, 4, 9, 17 18

Advance reservations required no tickets will be available onsite. A $3-per-order transaction fee applies to Illinois Free Day tickets reserved online. All adults must provide proof of residency in-person when redeeming tickets at the discounted rate.

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Chicago Childrens Museum At Navy Pier

The Chicago Childrens Museum offers veterans and active military free admission every day with the presentation of valid military status identification. They also offer families that qualify for state food assistance and are in possession of an EBT card or WIC card free admission for up to 6 people.

Oriental Institute Of The University Of Chicago

This is yet another great museum to visit in the windy city, but its worth noting that while they dont technically offer free admission, they do accept donations of just about any amount.

The Oriental Institute has permanent galleries focused on ancient Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia, Nubia, Syria, Anatolia, and other ancient Near East locations.

As with most museums, they also provide limited exhibits that rotate every few months, each devoted to subjects related to ancient Eastern culture.

Hours

  • 10 am – 4 pm | Tue-Sun
  • Closed on Monday & major US holidays

The suggested donation amount is $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12.

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Museum Of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art is always free for visitors under age 18, visitors with disabilities and their caregivers receive free admission, members of the military and police and fire departments and veterans, and Illinois elementary and high school teachers.

  • Illinois residents receive free admission every Tuesday

To encourage more people to visit and visit often, the MCA has a pay-what-you-can policy no one will be turned away. They also offer suggested admission of $3 each for up to six individuals when visitors present their LINK Card as part of the Museums for All program.

Public Parks & Beaches

Chicago museums reopen as COVID metrics improve

Chicago boasts hundreds of free public parks that cover over 8,000 acres of the city. Many feature wildlife havens like Northerly Island and North Pond Nature Sanctuary incredible landscape designs such as Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and Humboldt Parks prairie river and boathouse and athletic facilities such as the kayak boathouse in Ping Tom Memorial Park. You can also spend the day at one of the free public beaches, open Memorial Day to Labor Day. Various locations

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Mccormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

99 Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601 312.977.0227

Chicago has the most moveable bridges in the world. Get an inside look literally, at these complex structures at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. The museum is not offering free days at this time, but admission for adults is only $6.

220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, 312.280.2660

  • Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile / Streeterville

2430 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614, 773.755.5100

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has the most hands-on activities of any museum in the city.

2022 Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Free Days :

Field Museum 1400 S Lake Shore Dr 312

Illinois residents receive free basic admission and discounted passes to explore ticketed exhibits on selected dates throughout the year.

Upcoming 2022 free dates for Illinois residents include Aug. 23, 24 and 30, 31 Sept. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 Nov. 1, 2, 8, 9.

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City Gallery At The Historic Water Tower

This treasured landmark on The Magnificent Mile has been transformed into a free art gallery for rotating exhibits featuring local photographers and artists. Constructed between 1867 and 1869, the Water Tower was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. 806 N. Michigan Ave.

See Chicago’s History Unfold

Chicago Museum Free Days 2020

FREE

Children

Were open and ready to share Chicago stories with you while continuing our health and safety procedures. As of March 1, 2022, Chicago History Museum visitors are not required to show proof of vaccination. While masks are recommended and appreciated, they are no longer required. Learn more.

We encourage visitors to purchase tickets in advance online.Discounts can only be applied on tickets purchased in person.

*Illinois Resident Children 18 and under are FREE

*Non-Illinois Resident Children 12 and under are FREE

2022 Illinois Resident Free Days: January 17 February 14, 9, 21 March 4 June 19, 23, 30 July 4 August 2326, 3031 October 10

Access to the Abakanowicz Research Center is by appointment only. Find more information here.

City of Chicago residents receive a $2 discount

Thank you to Wintrust for sponsoring free Museum admission for Illinois residents 18 & under

It pays to be a member. Admission is free for members of the Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, and National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

Free admission is granted year round to the following audiences :

NARM Association Members: Members listed on card only.

US Armed Services: All active duty military and all veterans

Chicago Police Department: All active duty

Chicago Fire Department: All active duty

City Colleges of Chicagostudents, faculty, and staff

Illinois Teachers

Park Voyagers: Must show your pass.

Prices subject to change.

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Expired: Free Chicago Museum Days 2021

I always recommend that everyone always call everywhere first to confirm things like days and hours of operation, ticketing procedures and free days because things change constantly. I dont recommend checking online exclusively because websites arent always updated. Thats why I always try and post phone numbers. In fact personally if I were making a big trip downtown I would call a couple times because many times people answering the phones arent aware of whats going on! Large cultural institutions do not send out updates to their free days. Many dont respond to emails.

***If you like this post and are interested in the latest news on deals, discounts and free events in Chicago, sign up for the daily Chicago on the Cheap newsletter. Cheers!***

Chicago Free Museum Days In 2022

In Chicago, you really have no excuse for not embracing everything the city has to offer.

No budget? No fear. Free museum days are here. Mark these days on your calendar for your chance to enjoy Chicago’s museums and galleries care and cost-free.

Adler Planetarium

1300 S. Lake Shore Dr. – South Loop/Museum Campus

Art Institute Of Chicago

111 S. Michigan Ave. – Loop

Chicago residents under the age of 18 can get into this museum for free any time. Children age 14 years and younger are always free.

Admission will be free for Illinois residents on weekdays starting January 3 through March 17, 2022.

1000 Lake Cook Rd. – Glencoe, IL

Illinois residents can enjoy the gardens for free on the following days:

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St. – Lincoln Park

Children under 12 years old and Illinois residents under 18 years old are always free. Free admission is always available to all active-duty military and all veterans active duty Chicago Police Department members active duty Chicago Fire Department members City Colleges of Chicago students, faculty, and staff and Illinois teachers.

935 W. Fullerton Ave. – Lincoln Park

Admission is always free at the university’s on-campus art museum!

DuSable Museum of African American History

740 E. 56th Pl. – Washington Park

Free admission every Wednesday, all year long. Children 6 and under, military and first responders always get in free.

1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. – South Loop/Museum Campus

218 W. 26th St. – Chinatown

Free daily.

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Get Your Entire Family Into Your Favorite Chicago Attractions For Free On Specific Days This Summer

Do you love visiting museums? Do you love visiting museums for FREE? Weve put together our list of special days when we know Chicago museums offer free admission this summer, from June through August of 2022.

Tip: Dont be disappointed by the relatively few options for free museum days during the summer. Plan ahead for next winter January and February usually bring the most free day opportunities for Chicago museums.

Need to stretch your summer entertainment budget? Check out our 50+ ideas for Summer Fun on a Budget.

Check for any COVID-related protocols before your visit, including whether masks are required or recommended, whether timed entry reservations are required, whether tickets are sold online only or also at the door, whether coat checks are operating, or whether concessions are open or closed.

The days listed below are mostly free for Illinois residents. That means you must provide valid Illinois proof of residency a drivers license or state I.D. usually suffices.

Weve also included the average free day savings for a family of four so you can see how beneficial these are to your family budget. For many museums, the kid price applies to children 3-11, but sometimes its 13 and under. Always look at the fine print.

And finally, another option to save money on your Chicago visit avoid parking charges and take the train.

Free Days At Chicago Museums In December

Art Institute Of Chicago Welcomes Visitors Back After Another COVID-19 Pandemic Closure

Visiting local museums is always a great activity in the city, but most spots come with a hefty price tag for entry. If youre looking to see some animals, view some art, or just learn a little history, heres a roundup of this months free museum days.

Adler Planetarium: Free to Illinois residents on December 2, 3, 7, 12, and 13.

Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute is free year-round for Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m.

Chicago Botanic Garden: This spot is free every day, but parking can be expensive. Opt to take a train instead the Union Pacific North line stops right by the entrance.

Brookfield Zoo: Free admission for all active, reserve, and retired military with ID.

Chicago Childrens Museum: Free every Thursday from 5 pm-8 pm and every first Sunday of the month. Always free for kiddos under 1.

Chicago History Museum: Every Tuesday is free for Illinois residents between 12:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

DePaul Art Museum: Free admission every day.

International Museum of Surgical Science: Free admission every Tuesday to Illinois residents.

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum: Free admission every Sunday.

Museum of Contemporary Art: If youre an Illinois resident, admission is free every Tuesday.

Museum of Science and Industry: There are unfortunately no more free days this year, but check back in January for a whole bunch!

National Museum of Mexican Art: Free admission every day.

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Free Days At Chicago Museums

The following section will cover all of the locations in Chicago that have free museum days.

While some of these museums only offer admission to kids, others provide entry to everyone.

There are also some places that offer free museum days to Illinois residents, making it easier for locals to enjoy these attractions.

Harold Washington Library Center

This is one of the largest public libraries in the world, filling a whole city block and housing more than 13-million published works. Check out the sun-filled Winter Garden and explore the art collection that features over 50 local and internationally known artists displayed throughout the halls and reading rooms. 400 S. State St.

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No Advance Ticket Required

The following groups are invited to visit our galleries at no cost every dayeven when museum admission tickets are sold out.

In order to receive your free admission benefits, simply show the corresponding identification at the admissions desk in either museum lobby. Free admission benefits are not single useyou are welcome to use them any time you would like to visit.

Kids under 14Admission is always free for children under 14. These free tickets are available online as well as on-site at the admissions counters.

Chicago TeensMuseum admission is free for Chicago teens under the age of 18, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Glenn and Claire Swogger and the Redbud Foundation. See more opportunities and resources for teens.

Active-Duty MilitaryAs part of the Blue Star Museums program, active-duty service members receive free admission all year long. Plus, from Armed Forces Day through Labor Day, we also welcome service members and their households. Please bring your active-duty military ID to the admissions counter to receive this benefit.

LINK and WIC CardholdersAs part of Museums for All, LINK and WIC cardholders and anyone in their households receive free general admission to the museum and all ticketed special exhibitions. Simply present your card along with a valid photo ID.

Shedd Aquarium 1200 S Lake Shore Dr 312

2020 Museum Free Days in Chicago: The Complete List

Illinois residents get access to permanent and special exhibits on select days throughout the year. Upcoming free days for 2022 include February 7-11 and 14-18. Advance reservations are required and there is a $3 per order transaction fee for Illinois free day tickets. Educators from Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana receive free admission as well as first responders, active military, veterans, and those receiving Federal food assistance.

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Ukrainian National Museum Of Chicago 2249 W Superior St 312

No free days. Adult admission $10 Senior and Student admission $5.

Kids Museum Passport

This program, sponsored by the 15 Museums Work for Chicago institutions, allows individuals with a Chicago Public Library card to check out a pass for free general admission to the Art Institute. Please note the new rules regarding the use of the Kids Museum Passport:

  • Each pass admits a maximum of four people for general admission, including special exhibitions.
  • Each group using a pass must be accompanied by at least one child under the age of 18.
  • A maximum of two adults are admitted on one pass.

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