Save These Free Museum Days in Chicago

Chicago is home to an impressive collection of top museums. With many offering free museum days for their unique exhibits and programs. Whether you are sight seeing solo or bringing along the whole family, you can save a few dollars, and with this list of free museum days in Chicago. Jump start an exciting year of arts and culture by saving on admission to a Chicago museum.

Note: Free museum days in Chicago are subject to change. Admission may not include entry to special or limited time exhibits. For the most up to date admission details, visit individual museums websites for more information.

Free Museum Days for Illinois Residents

Adler Planetarium

The museum that connects people to the universe and each other opens its doors for free entry every Wednesday. Free admission is available for Illinois residents with proof of residency. In addition to free entry, the museum is open late night between 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm; perfect for after work, after school, or for date night at the Adler Planetarium.

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center

Free admission to the nation’s oldest, independent African American museum located on the South Side of Chicago, is available each Wednesday. The DuSable Museum also gives free admission to the military and first responders with valid IDs.

Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to contemporary art. Free admission is available to Illinois residents on Tuesdays. Illinois elementary and high school teachers, active members of the military, veterans, police, and fire departments can also receive free admission every day with a valid ID.

Shedd Aquarium

Visitors of the Shedd Aquarium can come eye-to-eye with unbelievable animals for free on select days throughout the year. Tickets must be reserved ahead of time for free admission to the museum.

Upcoming Free Days:

January 12, 13, 14 (sold out)15 (sold out)16 (sold out)

February 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28

Museum of Science and Industry

One of the largest science museums in the world, Museum of Science and Industry(MSI) has both an illustrious history and a focus on the future of science and science education. On select dates throughout the year, MSI offers Illinois residents free Museum Entry with valid proof of residency.

Upcoming Free Days:

January 9–11, 16–18, 23–25, 30–31, 15 (sold out)16 (sold out)

February 1–2, 6–9, 13–14, 16, 21

March 1, 6, 14 

April 18, 22

May 4, 9, 17–18

June 1, 6–7

August 22, 28–29

September 5–6, 11–12, 15, 18–20, 26

October 4–5, 9, 16–17

November 1, 8

The Art Institute of Chicago

Home to famous pieces and works of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago offers Illinois residents enjoy free admission every Monday, Thursday, and Friday during select days throughout the year to view their extraordinary collection. To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance. The Art Institute also offers free admission to teens and children under 18, active-duty military, educators, and university partners.

Chicago museums that Offer Free Admission Year Around

Chicago Cultural Center

The stunning landmark located across the street from Millennium Park, offers free admission daily to visitors. The Chicago Cultural Center also offers free building tours year round on Thursdays and Fridays at 1:15pm that are led by volunteer docents and/or staff.

Lincoln Park Zoo

The easily accessible Lincoln Park Zoo offers visitors free access to the unique wildlife experience year around.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

The photography museum, located at Columbia College Chicago offers free admission to all visitors interested in their collection of groundbreaking photography and programming.

National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art offers a rich collection of Mexican art and culture. Entry to this Pilsen-based museum is always free.

How to Visit Museums for Free All Year Long

There are many ways to visit Chicago museums without waiting for free admission days. Check out some of options below:

  1. Purchase a museum membership – There are plenty of museums that offer memberships that allow for free admission any time of the year. Membership benefits generally include exclusive access to previews, events, discounts, and more.
  2. Museums For All Initiative – gives free or significantly discounted admission for up to 4 people when they present their SNAP EBT card. This offer is available at more than 1,000 museums throughout the United States including those in Chicago.
  3. Save with City Pass – City Pass offers incredible savings to Chicago’s top attractions, including museums for a low cost.
  4. Corporate partnerships – Bank of America, Sotheby’s Preferred, The Cultivist cardholders receive free general admission to select museums on the first full weekend of each month by showing a valid photo ID with a matching name. Ticketed exhibitions and activities are not included and must be purchased separately.

Curious about unique museums in Chicago? Check out our guide to the most interesting museums here.

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