Experience Chicago’s award-winning museums, without spending a dime. Check out our ever-growing list of Chicago free museum days in 2023, plus some of our museums that are free all year long.
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.
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).
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.
Upcoming free museum days at the Field Museum in 2023:
- Jan. 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31
- Feb. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20
- March 7, 14
- April 18, 22, and 25
- May 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30
- June 6, 13, and 19
- July 1 and 2
- Aug. 29
- Sept. 5, 9, 12, 19, and 26
- Oct. 3, 9, 10, 17, 24, and 31
- Nov. 7, 10, 14, and 28
- Dec. 5 and 12
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 Planet, The 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
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:
- Thursday evenings (5 – 8 p.m.), May 18 – Aug. 31, 2023
- Weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays), Nov. 27 – Dec. 22, 2023
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
Museum of Science and Industry
Admission to the Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents on select dates throughout the year.
Upcoming free museum days at the Museum of Science and Industry in 2023:
- Jan. 30 – 31
- Feb. 1 – 2, 6 – 9, 13 – 14, 16, 21
- March 1, 6, 14
- April 18, 22
- May 4, 9, 17 – 18
- June 1, 6 – 7, 19
- Aug. 28 – 29
- Sept. 5 – 6, 11 – 12, 15, 18 – 20, 26
- Oct. 4 – 5, 9
- Nov. 1, 8
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).
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.) 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
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 2023/2023:
- Nov. 1, 29
- Dec. 13
- Jan. 15 – 19, 23 – 26, 30 – 31
- Feb. 1 – 2, 6 – 9, 13 – 16, 19 – 23, 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.
DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
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
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
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is offering suggested donation admission on the following days in 2023:
- Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26
March 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30
- April 6, 13, 20, and 27
The museum also offers weekly Donation Days every Thursday the museum is open for Illinois residents. Illinois residents 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
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 2023
Reserve your free tickets in advance.
Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier
The Chicago Children’s Museum offers veterans and active military free admission every day with the presentation of valid military status identification. In partnership with Navy Pier, Free Family Days in 2023 are the last Thursday of the month January through May as well as September and October. No pre-registration is required.
Swedish American Museum
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:
- National Museum of Mexican Art
- National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture
- Museum of Contemporary Photography
- Smart Museum of Art
- Hyde Park Art Center
- Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
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.