Experience Chicago’s award-winning museums, without spending a dime. Check out our ever-growing list of free museum days for 2019, plus some Chicago museums Free museum days mean you can soak up all that history and culture without spending a dime.

For some of the museums listed here, you must be an Illinois resident and show proof of residency to take advantage of free admission days.

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 free Chicago museum days for 2019 and 2020. Check back soon, new dates are added throughout the year.

Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium exterior

2019 Illinois resident free days for the Adler Planetarium:

2019 Illinois Resident Discount Days
Dec. 2 – 3, 7, 12 – 13

2020 Illinois Resident Discount Days
Jan. 7 – 9, 20 – 22
Feb. 4 – 6, 11 – 13, 17 – 20
March 9 – 12
April 20 – 23
May 10 – 16
June 2, 9, 16
Aug. 22 – 23, 31
Sept. 1 – 4
Oct. 12 – 15
Nov. 11, 17 – 19
Dec. 4 – 6

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute in fall

Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5-8pm. And museum admission is always free for Chicago teens under the age of 18, and all children under age 14. The public can enjoy the following public museum areas free of charge:

  • The Ryan Education 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

Best Large City in the U.S.

Museum of Science and Industry

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

2019 Illinois resident free days for Museum of Science and Industry:

2019 Illinois Resident Discount Days
Aug. 26 – 28
Sept. 3–5, 9–12, 16–19, 23–26
Oct. 29
Nov. 18

Field Museum

The Field Museum Exterior

2019 Illinois resident free days for the Field Museum:

From Aug. 14 to Nov. 13, 2019, every Wednesday is a free admission day.

Shedd Aquarium

Dive deep at the Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium

2019 Illinois resident free days for Shedd Aquarium:

2019 Illinois Resident Discount Days
Dec. 4

2020 Illinois Resident Discount Days
Jan. 16 – 20
Feb. 3 – 7, 10 – 14, 17 – 21, 24 – 28
June 15, 16, 22, 23

Chicago History Museum

Clayton Hauck

Each year, the Chicago History Museum offers free admission for Illinois residents on the following days:

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20, 2020)
Presidents’ Day  (Feb. 17, 2020)
March 4, 2020
July 4, 2020

The museum is also free for Illinois residents starting at 2 p.m. every Tuesday, excluding Dec. 17, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, 2019.

Members of the U.S. Armed Services, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, and Illinois teachers are admitted for free. Also, if you’re a member of the museum, or of DuSable Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, or the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, admission is free.

Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier

Navy Pier Entrance in the Fall

Free admission for visitors age 15 and under is offered the first Sunday of each month. Children under the age of one and veterans/military families receive free admission to the Chicago Children’s Museum every day.

Museum of Contemporary Art

MCA
Illinois residents receive free admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesdays year-round.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Clayton Hauck

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents year-round at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Illinois teachers are admitted for free. Veterans, retired service members, active-duty service members with ID and their families can enjoy free admission year-round.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Free admission year-round for everyone at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo Penguins

Free admission at the Brookfield Zoo for all active, reservist, and retired members of the military with ID.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Free admission days at the Illinois Holocaust Museum: Aug. 10, Sept. 10, Oct. 10, Nov. 10, Dec. 10, 2019

DuSable Museum of African American History

DuSable Museum

Free admission every Tuesday at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Military personnel and children under 5 years also receive free admission.

Loyola University Museum of Art

Admission is free year-round at the Loyola University Museum of Art.

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

Free admission every Sunday while the Bridgehouse Museum is open from May to October. Children under 5 years are admitted for free.

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.

Clarke House Museum

Clarke House Museum Exterior

Admission is always free at the Clarke House Museum. One-hour guided tours are free on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, year-round at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (not applicable to groups of 10 or more).

Glessner House Museum

Glessner House Exterior

Admission and tours are free for Illinois residents on Wednesdays year-round at the Glessner House Museum.

Charnley-Persky House

Tours are free on Wednesdays year-round (no reservations necessary, limited to 15 individuals) at the Charnley-Persky House.

National Veterans Art Museum

Free admission year-round for everyone at the National Veterans Art Museum.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Free admission year-round for everyone at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center Exterior

The Chicago Cultural Center offers free entrance always, as well as free on-the-spot tours.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Free admission year-round for everyone at the Museum of Contemporary Photography.


Dates are subject to change and may not include fees to view special exhibits. Visit individual museum websites for admission details, as well as policies for specific community members such as military personnel and local school groups.