Chicago Museums After Hours

Chicago is home to some of the greatest museums in the world, and thankfully, the opportunities for learning, mingling and immersing yourself in art, history and science don't end when the sun goes down.

Looking for a date night to remember? Craving a one-of-a-kind meet up with your besties? Want to give the kids an experience they'll never forget? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite museum after-hour events, designed to satisfy your thirst for art, history, science—and all things unique.

Art Institute of Chicago

111 S. Michigan Ave.
(312) 443-3600

Masterpieces are bursting at the seams at the world-class Art Institute of Chicago. During the evening hours, a more contemplative atmosphere descends upon Chicago's most magnificent and historic art museum. Every Thursday, the museum stays open until 8 pm, and Illinois residents can count on free admission that includes full access to the museum and restaurant Terzo Piano, as well as a range of public programing from concerts and film screenings to lectures and artist conversations. See the full calendar of upcoming events here

What's more, the Art Institute's After Dark initiative, offered on select Fridays in the Modern Wing (9 pm–midnight), features engaging tours of featured exhibitions, live music from up-and-coming artists and DJs, interactive performances by the acclaimed theater company Collaboraction, art-making activities, complimentary appetizers and a cash bar.  Tickets go on sale a few weeks before each event; check the museum's schedule of events for program updates.

Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Field Museum of Natural History

1400 S Lake Shore Dr
(312) 922-9410

The Field Museum is a fascinating place to be at any time of day. For many, the Evolving Planet gallery is a favorite, teeming with skulking dinosaurs and rare fossils. Thanks to the Dozin with the Dinos program, families and groups with children ages 6-12 can grab their sleeping bags for an overnight stay at the Museum, cozying up with Cryolophosaurus and sauropods Kids explore the Museum by flashlight and see science in action, dissect owl pellets, learn to illustrate specimens, and play instruments from around the world. Check out the current schedule here.

Field Museum - Dozin with the Dinos

Courtesy of the Field Museum

Adler Planetarium

Museum Campus 1300 S Lake Shore Dr
(312) 922-7827

From the Big Bang to rocket science, the Adler takes you on a journey beyond our galaxy without ever getting into a space suit. You’re guaranteed to deepen your understanding of planetary and space science with the Adler’s engaging, interactive exhibits and shows. But the starry sky over Chicago is best viewed at night, and the planetarium's Adler After Dark series points its telescopes skyward every third Thursday, from 6 pm– 10 pm, playing host to adults only.

Guests enjoy cocktails and appetizers against the stunning backdrop of the Chicago skyline to the west, and Lake Michigan to the east. With the help of telescopes and Adler staff, you can view Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s great red spot with your very own eyes. Then head back into the planetarium where you can take advantage of open access to all exhibits, unlimited shows, and unique entertainment. Themes change every month, which means you'll never experience exactly the same thing twice.

Advanced tickets for Adler after Dark can be purchased online at $20 for non-members and $15 for members and students (with valid school IDs). Tickets bought at the box office the night of the event are $25. All guests must be 21 or older.

Courtesy of the Adler Planetarium

Museum of Science and Industry

Museum Campus
5700 S Lake Shore Dr
(773) 684-1414

There is so much to see and do at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, where 14 acres of exhibits and experiences make it one of the largest science museums in the world. The excitement extends into the evening hours thanks to MSI After Hours, offered on select Friday evenings, from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m., throughout the year (the next event will be held on March 23).

The adults-only MSI After Hours event series let's you explore exhibits, cocktails in hand (beer and light bites, too) minus the mobs of field-tripping little ones. Each event features a theme, with related programming that encourages you to interact with fellow guests.

If you're more interested in spending a night at the museum, the Museum of Science and Industry also hosts Snoozeums throughout the year. Special science activities, scavenger hunts and the chance to snooze beside your favorite exhibit are all part of the evening's fun. Snoozeums are open to families with children ages 6-12. The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 a.m. the following day.

Courtesy, Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Contemporary Art

220 E Chicago Ave
(312) 280-2660

The Museum of Contemporary Art is home to Chuck Close, Christo, Calder, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and a countless number of pivotal figures in the world of contemporary art. In the quiet of the evening on Tuesdays and Fridays until 9 pm, the museum takes on an entirely different aspect thanks to smaller, calmer crowds. 

If quiet isn't what you're after, you can grab dinner and cocktails at the museum's acclaimed restaurant, Marisol, which is open Tuesday through Thursday until 10 p.m. Follow that up with a free program — the museum hosts everything from guided gallery walks to movie screenings and world-class performances as part of its MCA Stage Season

Photo Nathan Keay, courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Chicago History Museum

1601 N Clark St
(312) 642-4600

Founded in 1856 to study, interpret and preserve Chicago's history, the Chicago History Museum offers thought-provoking, rotating exhibitions and a permanent collection that showcases artifacts spanning the city's move from fur trading outpost to bustling metropolis. 

After hours, the museum hosts a happy hour like no other. At the quarterly History Happy Hour series, patrons enjoy two drinks on the Museum, tours, talks and activities highlighting the collection and its special exhibits. Upcoming History Happy Hours include a St. Patrick's Day themed celebration spotlighting Chicago's vibrant Irish community, (March 20, 6- 9 pm); a Chicago blues focused happy hour, featuring flash tours of the museum's upcoming Amplified exhibit, (June 12, 6 – 9 pm); and a Halloween happy hour on (October 16, 6 – 9 pm) that delves into Chicago's haunted history (costumes encouraged!).

General admission on Tuesday evenings is free for Illinois residents. Admission to the History Happy Hour is $15 for the general public and $10 for Museum members. Guests must be 21+ to tickets, which include two complimentary drinks, tours, and museum admission.

Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

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