Experience Chicago’s award-winning museums, without spending a dime. Check out our ever-growing list of Chicago free museum days in 2024, plus some of our museums that are free all year long.

Looking for other ways to save? Check out the Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card, which offers admission to several Chicago museums and attractions for one discounted price.

Here’s a list of upcoming free Chicago museum days. Keep in mind that some museums may be operating with different hours and new ticketing procedures; contact the museum to learn more.

Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium exterior

The Adler Planetarium offers a variety of discounted tickets throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Adler Planetarium:

  • Every Wednesday evening from 4 – 10 p.m.

All tickets must be purchased online and in advance. Admission is always free for Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12).

Field Museum

Field Museum with guests socially distanced
Photo by Lucy Hewett

The Field Museum offers free basic admission, plus discounted passes to explore a ticketed exhibition or enjoy a 3D movie, for Illinois residents on select dates throughout the year.

  • Every Wednesday all year long

Tickets for free days are only available onsite and cannot be reserved in advance. The free tickets include all general admission exhibitions, such as Evolving PlanetThe Ancient Americas, and Inside Ancient Egypt.

Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12th grade) and active military personnel receive free basic admission year-round.

Art Institute of Chicago

Women view a Monet at Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago; photo by Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

The Art Institute of Chicago offers select free admission days for Illinois residents throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Art Institute of Chicago:

  • Weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays) Jan. 8 – March 22, 2024
  • Thursday evenings (5 – 8 p.m.) June 6 – Sept. 26, 2024

To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance.

The museum is always free for Chicago teens under the age of 18, all children under age 14, Link and WIC cardholders, active-duty military, and Illinois educators.

The public can enjoy the following public museum areas free of charge:

  • The Ryan Learning Center in the Modern Wing
  • The North and South Gardens (accessible from Michigan Avenue)
  • The Nichols Bridgeway connecting the museum to Millennium Park
  • The Bluhm Family Terrace on the 3rd floor of the west pavilion of the Modern Wing

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium offers Illinois residents free access to all permanent exhibits, including special exhibits Underwater Beauty and seasonal Stingray Touch, on select dates throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Shedd Aquarium in 2024:

  • Jan. 9 – 16, 23 – 25, 30, 31
  • Feb. 1, 6 – 8, 13 – 15, 20 – 22, 27 – 29

Upcoming free Tuesday evenings (5 p.m. – 9 p.m.) in 2024 include:

  • March 5, 12, 19, 26
  • April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • May 7, 14, 21, 28
  • June 4, 11, 18, 25

Advance reservations are 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.

Chicago History Museum

Clayton Hauck

The Chicago History Museum offers free admission on select holidays and dates throughout the year.

Illinois residents can receive free admission on the following days in 2024:

  • Jan. 15 – 19, 23 – 26, 30 – 31, 2024
  • Feb. 1 – 2, 6 – 9, 13 – 16, 19 – 23, 27 – 29, 2024
  • March 12, 27 – 28
  • April 10, 18, 24
  • May 1, 27, 29

Admission is always free for active duty military and veterans, active duty Chicago police and firefighters, Illinois teachers, Illinois residents under age 18, and all children under 12.

Museum of Science and Industry

MSI Storm exhibit
J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

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

Illinois residents can receive free admission on the following days in 2024:

  • Jan. 22 – 24, 28 – 31
  • Feb. 5 – 8, 11 – 15, 20 – 22, 26 – 29
  • April 21
  • June 6 and 19

The Museum of Science and Industry is always free for United States military active-duty personnel and veterans, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers and Illinois teachers (Pre-K through 12th grade).

DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center

DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center; photo by Abel Arciniega @tequilagraphics

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center offers free admission for all every Wednesday.

Online booking in advance is currently required for all visitors. Admission is always free for military and first responders.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Duro Olowu exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art
Installation view, Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, MCA Chicago Feb 29-May 10, 2020 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

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 (EBT) Card as part of the Museums for All program.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Clayton Hauck

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museumoffers weekly Donation Days every Thursday the museum is open for Illinois residents. Visitors can enjoy free admission during these Donation Days or support the museum with a $10 suggested household donation at the time of admission.

Admission is always free for active-duty service members with ID and their families, Illinois teachers, and children under three.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Resistance Gallery at the Illinois Holocaust Museum
Photo by Kathleen Hinkel

The Illinois Holocaust Museum offers a variety of free admission days and discounted tickets throughout the year.

  • Museum admission is free to all the last Friday of the month throughout the year.

Reserve your free tickets in advance.

Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier

Navy Pier Entrance in the Fall

The Chicago Children’s Museum offers veterans and active military free admission every day with the presentation of valid military status identification.

Swedish American Museum

Swedish American Museum Exterior

Free admission every second Tuesday of the month year-round at the Swedish American Museum. Children aged 1 year or younger are admitted free.

Free museums in Chicago

These Chicago museums offer free admission to everyone all year long:

Find more free museums all around Chicago.

Dates are subject to change and may not include fees to view special exhibits. Visit individual museum websites for admission details.