Get out your calendar and get ready to save a bundle, ’cause here are Chicago museum free days AND museums that are free all the time.
In a world-class city like Chicago, one of the best things to do is explore its world-class museums. Unfortunately, seeing them all can be very expensive.
Lucky for you (especially if you’re an Illinois resident), there are several free days at the most popular Chicago museums.
There are also several free museums in Chicago, and we’ve got them, too!
It’s worth noting that, while general admission is free on the days listed below, special exhibitions usually require a paid ticket.
If these dates don’t fit your schedule you can save money on tickets with a Go Chicago Card. Save up to 55% off Chicago attractions – get this virtual pass on your smartphone now!
Related: How to save money in Chicago
Please note that many free days are for Illinois residents only.
Find out when your favorite museum is offering free days.
1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605, (312) 922-7827
When you visit Adler Planetarium, you’re visiting the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. Built in 1930, its exhibitions bring the stars to you.
ADLER PLANETARIUM IS CURRENTLY CLOSED, but you can read about it in Living Landmarks of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, 312.443.3600
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the city’s finest treasures.
Popular exhibits include the largest collection of Impressionism outside of the Louvre, the Thorne Miniature Rooms, and galleries devoted to American art, to African American art, to photography, prints and drawings, and Indian Art of the Americas.
The Art Institute of Chicago is currently free for the following groups:
- Kids under 14
- Chicago teens under 18
- Students who attend one of our University Partner schools
- LINK and WIC cardholders
- Illinois educators
- Active-duty military and their families (Memorial Day–Labor Day)
Visiting another day, or not an Illinois resident? Get a fast pass to the Art Institute of Chicago.
3300 Golf Rd, Brookfield, IL 60513 708.688.8000
Not only is Brookfield Zoo a wonderful place to visit the animals, it’s also a world leader in animal population management and wildlife conservation.
Admission is free for zoo members and all active, reservist, and retired members of the military.
Charnley-Persky House Museum
1365 N Astor St, Chicago, IL 60610 312.573.1365
It’s only fitting that the Charnley-Persky House is the home of the Society of Architectural Historians since it was designed by Louis Sullivan and his junior draftsman, Frank Lloyd Wright.
CHARNLEY-PERSKY HOUSE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED, but you can read about it in Living Landmarks of Chicago
Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, 312.527.1000
THE CHICAGO CHILDREN’S MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY CLOSED
Check out these hotels near the Chicago Children’s Museum:
- ACME Hotel Company – fun and affordable boutique hotel
- Doubletree by Hilton Magnificent Mile – get a warm cookie at check-in!
- Hyatt Regency Chicago – one of Chicago’s largest hotels
- Intercontinental Hotel Chicago – an historic hotel on the Magnificent Mile
- Loews Chicago Hotel – closest hotel to Navy Pier
- Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel – located in one of the most distinctive buildings in Chicago
Chicago History Museum
1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, 312.642.4600
The Chicago History Museum showcases the city’s complicated history and is itself a piece of history.
Free admission is available for members. At this time, all admission must be reserved in advance.
Can’t make it on Tuesday, or not an Illinois resident? Get your tickets.
DuSable Museum of African American History
740 E 56th Pl, Chicago Illinois, 773.947.0600
Named for the first non-native permanent resident of Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History was founded in 1961. It was the first independent museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, and study of the history and culture of Africans and Americans of African descent.
THE DUSABLE MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY CLOSED
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S Lake Shore Dr , Chicago Illinois, 312-922-9410
The Field Museum of Natural History houses millions of specimens in its collections, from gems to mummies to dinosaurs.
Admission to the Field Museum is free on March 15, 2021
1800 S Prairie Ave, Chicago, IL
Tours of the Glessner House are limited to four people. They are currently not offering free admission.
International Museum of Surgical Science
1524 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60610, 312.642.6502
Free admission is available for the following:
ASTC Members– FREE Admission for two adults and all children under 18 of the same household. Must present valid ASTC Membership card with ID or other proof of residence. Exclusions: Members of centers & museums OR member’s residence located within 90 miles “as the crow flies” from the International Museum of Surgical Science. Does not include special exhibits.
Museums for All– Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission to more than 300 museums throughout the United States simply by presenting their EBT card. Up to four people admitted for free per card. Does not include special exhibits.
AAM Members– FREE Admission with membership card. Does not include special exhibits.
1220 Kensington Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523 630.833.1616
This “gem” of a museum highlights the fine art of cutting and polishing stones.
- Free on Wednesdays
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. Reopens May 8, 2021.
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
3001 Central St, Evanston, IL 60201, 847.475.1030
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian IS CURRENTLY CLOSED
220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, 312.280.2660
- Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile / Streeterville
- Free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents, open until 8pm
5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL
- March 10
- April 14
- May 12
- June 9, 19
- July 14
- August 11
- September 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30
- October 27
- November 3, 10, 17
- December 8
- Free admission is for Illinois residents only
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
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.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum IS CURRENTLY CLOSED
1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL (312) 939-2438
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is not just a fantastic place to see aquatic animals, it also has a magnificent conservation program.
No upcoming free days.
Swedish American Museum
5211 N Clark St, Chicago, IL (773) 728-8111
The Swedish American Museum offers free admission on the second Tuesday of every month
These Chicago museums are free all the time.
The Arts Club of Chicago
201 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL
- Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile / Streeterville
- Always free
Located within Historic Water Tower, 806 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL
This free gallery inside the Historic Water Tower focuses on photography.
The City Gallery is currently closed.
Clarke House Museum
1827 S Indiana Ave, Chicago, IL
Chicago’s oldest house was built in 1836 and moved not once, but twice!
The Clarke House Museum is currently closed.
Jane Addams Hull House Museum
800 S Halsted, Chicago, IL
Jane Addams was a remarkable person and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner. Step inside Chicago’s first settlement house and learn the story behind the social reformer.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is currently closed.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
One the country’s oldest and last free zoos, Lincoln Park Zoo has been delighting locals and tourists since 1868. It is always free.
Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)
820 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, 312.915.7600
LUMA is currently closed
Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Dr, Evanston, IL
Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art is currently closed
Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL
The Museum of Contemporary Photography is currently open, but reservations are required.
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W 19th St, Chicago, IL
National Museum of Mexican Art is currently closed
The Oriental Institute
1155 E 58th St, Chicago, IL
The Oriental Institute is currently open, but reservations are required.
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago
5811 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, but reservations are required.
Smart Museum Of Art
5550 S Greenwood Ave, Chicago, IL
The Smart Museum of Art is scheduled to re-open April 8, 2021.
These aren’t the only free things to do in Chicago! Find more in our ultimate guide.
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