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6 Chicago Cultural Center Freebies

There are loads of free things to see and do at the Chicago Cultural Center, from lunchtime concerts to important art exhibits.

Whether you’re looking for free events in Chicago or just want to experience the rich history and culture of the city, don’t miss a visit to the Chicago Cultural Center, a creative epicenter across from Millennium Park with free art exhibits, concerts, guided tours and more. Here are six must-dos to get you started.

1. Go on a guided architecture tour.

Chicago Cultural Center Tiffany Dome

The Chicago Cultural Center’s grand Classical Revival-style building originally opened in 1897 as the first home of the Chicago Public Library. Learn the building’s fascinating story and experience its magnificent architectural features during one of the free Chicago Cultural Center Building Tours. The 45- to 60-minute tours will take you beneath the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome, past colorful mosaics and through rooms featuring exquisite details such as dramatic marble arches and coffered ceilings.

Tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday at 1:15pm and meet in the Randolph Street lobby. Tours are generally limited to the first 20 people, so be sure to arrive early. Special enhanced tours for Spanish speaking, deaf and blind visitors are offered on select dates (see schedule).

2. Liven up your lunch with a classical music concert.

Every Wednesday at 12:15pm, the grand Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center comes to life with classical music during Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. These free, 45-minute music concerts feature a lineup of emerging artists, from violinists to pianists and more (refer to the schedule for upcoming performers).

3. Introduce a little one to the magic of music and dance.

Juicebox at ©Chicago Cultural Center

Plan for some playtime with your little one at Juicebox, a special cultural event that introduces toddlers to music from around the world, while encouraging dancing and interacting with performers. These free, kid-friendly events take place on alternating Fridays from 11-11:45am in various Chicago Cultural Center locations, including Preston Bradley Hall (check the schedule for details).

4. Kick off your week with chamber music.

Chamber Mondays at ©Chicago Cultural Center

Explore the rich diversity of chamber music during Chamber Mondays, held on the first and fourth Mondays of the month at 12:15pm in Preston Bradley Hall. The lineup includes some of Chicago’s most talented classical, jazz and cultural music instrumentalists and vocalists (see upcoming schedule).

5. Check out the impressive exhibits in the art galleries.

Keith Haring Mural ©Marcelino Y. Fahd

The Chicago Cultural center is home to a number of rotating art exhibits, located in galleries throughout the building, that are devoted to the visual arts and contemporary culture. Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush is the first solo museum exhibition for this Chicago-born narrative artist, presenting a 10-year survey of her paintings, watercolors and collages through May 6. Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural, on view through September 23, features 36 original panels of the monumental mural created in 1989 by the internationally acclaimed pop artist with the assistance of 500 Chicago Public School students in Chicago’s Grant Park. Scott Stack: Interior and Exterior presents 12 of the artist’s recently completed large-scale abstract paintings through August 5.

Learn more about other current and upcoming Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions. And check out our blog for an in-depth look at the Abney and Haring exhibits.

6. Catch a live theater or dance performance.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) presents an ongoing performing arts series that showcases both emerging and established music, theater, dance and multi-disciplinary artists at the Chicago Cultural Center. Check the schedule for the latest performances.

Looking for even more fun things to do? See the Chicago Cultural Center events calendar to find out what will be happening during your visit. 

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