Chicago’s museums are packed with fascinating, immersive exhibits on every topic you can imagine — and the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down.
Many Chicago museums are open late for after-hour events. There are kid-friendly sleepovers, swanky cocktail parties, and outdoor concerts that keep these museums buzzing until late into the night. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite after-dark museum events for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
After Dark at The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the largest and oldest art museums in the world, hosts regular After Dark events that are some of the hottest parties of the year. Each 21+ event is centered around a different exhibit, from ancient Greek statues to the latest modern masterpieces. The evening also features live music and DJs, appetizers, and a cash bar featuring a signature cocktail. Plus, they’re held in the museum’s stunning Modern Wing, which few get a chance to see lit up after dark. Check the museum’s event calendar for the next After Dark evening. 111 S. Michigan Ave., Loop
Dozin with Dinos at Field Museum of Natural History
Science is even more fun in your pajamas. Field Museum is a fascinating place to be at any time of day, but kids will get an extra special experience when they come to Dozin’ with the Dinos. They’ll stay up late with museum scientists, do hands-on activities, and explore some of the museums most famous exhibits (like the dino exhibit that’s home to the world’s largest T.rex) with flashlights. The series of slumber parties takes place on select weekends throughout the year. 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive., South Loop
Adler After Dark at Adler Planetarium
What better time to explore the country’s oldest planetarium than when the stars are out? The Adler Planetarium’s adults-only Adler After Dark series offers open access to exhibits, unlimited sky shows, and live entertainment every third Thursday of the month. When the weather is nice, you can peer into space at the Doane Observatory and enjoy cocktails and bites on the museum’s gorgeous terrace. The Adler is perched right on the lake, meaning you’ll get a stunning view of the skyline along with those night stars. 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., South Loop
MSI After Hours and Science Snoozeums at Museum of Science and Industry
There is so much to see and do at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, you could spend all night exploring. And you can do just that at MSI After Hours, adults-only evenings that give you open access to all the museum’s interactive exhibits. Grab a cocktail and step onto a submarine, into a tornado, or deep inside a coal mine.
If you’re looking for something to do with a crew of science-loving kids, the Museum of Science and Industry also hosts Science Snoozeums on select Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year. Kids age 6 to 12 will have a jam-packed night of activities, like watching a movie in the Giant Dome Theater, making their own science toys, completing a scavenger hunt, and sleeping nose to nose with a 727. 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Hyde Park
Prime Time at Museum of Contemporary Art
Party with the cool kids at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Prime Time events. The after-hours series taps into the creative pulse of Chicago with an eclectic mix of live music, performance art, fashion shows, film screenings, and interactive programs that bring an electric energy to the museum. Check the museum’s event calendar for the next event.
Bonus: In the summer, the MCA Chicago hosts its free Tuesdays on the Terrace from 5:30 – 8 p.m. The evening performance series highlights artists from Chicago’s internationally renowned jazz community. Plus, there’s a full bar and food menu available. 220 E. Chicago Ave., Streeterville
Jazzin’ at the Shedd and Asleep with the Fishes at Shedd Aquarium
Listen to live jazz while taking in the Chicago skyline at Jazzin’ at the Shedd. In the summer, Shedd Aquarium’s terrace offers some stunning views of the water and city, particularly once the Navy Pier fireworks start up. In the fall, the aquarium also hosts Shedd After Hours. This adults-only event includes live music, skyline views, and meet-and-greets with beluga whales and bluegills, stingrays, and sturgeons.
The whole family is welcome during the Shedd’s Asleep with the Fishes overnight stays. Kids and their parents will take part in animal and science activities, animal encounters, aquatic crafts, a scavenger hunt, and a Caribbean Reef feeding dive. You’re also free to explore any of the open exhibit spaces throughout the evening, before going to sleep surrounded by aquatic creatures. 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., South Loop
Bunking with Butterflies at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
During Bunking with the Butterflies, you’ll get the chance to spend a night surrounded by nature at this multi-sensory museum. Families can take part in hands-on science activities, explore the mesmerizing butterfly haven, enjoy a snack and crafts, and more. Kids of all ages will love the nature-focused exhibits, like indoor treehouses and the animal house, which are even cooler with a flashlight in hand. For more information email email@example.com. 2430 N. Cannon Dr., Lincoln Park