Art Institute of Chicago

A visit to the the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-do for families visiting the city. This world class museum will knock your socks off with its enormous collection of art - more than 260,000 pieces! Here are ten tips to make the most of your visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. 

  • Consider a membership. If you plan on visiting the museum more than once this year, membership is a good option. Enjoy perks such as free admission, exclusive invites, and behind-the-scenes access. If you reside out-of-state, you'll receive an additional 10% off.
  • Stay informed. Sign up for the family programs e-newsletter at You'll be among the first to learn about upcoming exhibits and programs for families. 
  • Take a guided tour. The Lions Trail Family Tour is a wonderful audio guide geared towards families with kids ages 5-10. It offers a great overview of the museums collections, with 32 stops along the way, and takes about an hour depending on your pace. Purchase your Lions Trail Family Tour for $7 at the audio guide counter in the Michigan Avenue or Modern Wing lobbies.

Windows, Art Institute of Chicago

  • Take a break. A visit to the Ryan Education Center, a comfy space perfect for taking a break and expanding learning at the same time, is a must-do for families with younger kids. Kids are invited to build their own architectural masterpieces with colorful blocks, assemble puzzles of Art Institute highlights, and explore art through a collection of more than 1,300 creative picture books. After your day of exploring, cosider a pit stop in neighborhing Lurie Garden, a beautiful green space that works as a buffer between the Art Institute's Modern Wing a Millennium Park.

Art Institute Modern Wing

  • Use all of your senses. The Elizabeth Morse Touch Gallery gives visually impaired kids and adults the chance to discover art through touch: four specially treated sculptures from different time periods encourage everyone to explore the form, scale and texture through touch. 
  • Visit the miniature rooms. Dollhouse lovers with adore the Thorne Miniature Rooms, 68 mini-model rooms that highlight interiors from the 13th century through the 1930's. These Lilliputian interiors were the inspiration behind the fantastic children's book  The Sixty Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone - check it out from your local library before your visit to see them in person!
  • Find an exhibit that fits your family. Fans of knights in shining armor will appreciate the Arms and Armor: Highlights of the Permanent Collection exhibit, which features full suits of armor, cannons, and even a knight on horseback. Before you go,  the names and functions of the basic pieces of a suit of armor on this interactive website
  • Don't forget to eat. For family-friendly dining, you can't beat the museum's Terzo Piano, located in the new Modern Wing. The focus in this award-winning restaurant is on local, organic, and sustainable foods in Italian-inspired dishes. If the weather is nice enough, ask to be seated on the patio, where you'll be treated to an amazing city view. Terzo Piano also features a kids menu.

Terzo Piano

  • Bring back a unique souvenir. Shop the in-museum gift shops for thoughtful, art-inspired souvenirs. The unique toys and books for children make for fun and educational holiday gifts.

Art Institute Gift Shop

  • Do your research. Before or after your visit to the Art Institute, consolidate learning via the fun online stories and games at Curious Corner.

Oh, and admission for kids under age 14 is always free. That was a bonus.

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