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Chicago has amazing museums with unbelievable artifacts including a 67 million-year-old T. rex, moon rocks, dolphins and one of the most extensive displays of rare art this side of the Louvre. Chicago's museums offer an unforgettable experience for visitors and are a proud symbol of cultural pride for locals. As an added bonus, many of these institutions offer free or discounted admission days.

The list below provides more specific information about special museum offers. Check back often for updated dates.

Please note: For many of the museums, you must be an Illinois resident and show proof of residency to take advantage of the free admission days. 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.

Looking for other ways to save? There are museums in Chicago FREE EVERY DAY. Check out that guide to always free Chicago museums and attractions for no-cost, year-round alternatives. Or consider Chicago CityPASS or a Go Chicago Card, which package several top museums and sightseeing attractions into pre-paid discount admission booklets.

 

ADLER PLANETARIUM

Free general admission for Illinois residents on these upcoming 2017 dates:
January 6-13, 16 (Martin Luther King Day), 17-20
February 6-10, 20 (President's Day), 21-24
June 5-9

 

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Beginning January 2, 2017, museum admission is free for Chicago teens under the age of 18 

Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5-8pm.

Additionally, children under age 14 are always free and the public can enjoy the following museum areas free of charge:

  • The Ryan Education Center in the Modern Wing, as well as all programs for families and children within the center
  • 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

Free general admission for Illinois residents on the following 2017 dates:
January 10-12, 16-19, 24-26, 31
February 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28
June 5-9, 12
September 5-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29
October 2-5

 

THE FIELD MUSEUM

Free general admission for Illinois residents on these upcoming 2017 dates:
January 4, 5, 16, 28, 29, 30
February 1-28

 

SHEDD AQUARIUM

Free general admission for Illinois residents only on the following 2017 dates:
January 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 21, 27, 28
June 5, 6, 12, 13
August 28, 29
September 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26
October 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31
November 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21

 

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM

The Museum is free to Illinois residents every Tuesday beginning January 10, 2017, from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. and on Commemorative Days: January 16, February 20, March 4, and July 4. 

 

CHICAGO CHILDRENS MUSEUM AT NAVY PIER

Free admission for visitors age 15 and under on Free First Sundays, offered the first Sunday of each month. Additionally there is free admission for all visitors on Target Free Family Night, offered Thursday evenings 5-8pm.

 

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays year round.

 

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM 

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents year round.

 

BROOKFIELD ZOO

General zoo admission is free on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from January 3, 2017 through February 28, 2017.

 

DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

Admission is free to all on each Tuesday of the year. Children under 5 always receive free admission.

 

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART

Admission is free for Illinois residents every Tuesday, year round.

 

MCCORMICK BRIDGEHOUSE & CHICAGO RIVER MUSEUM 

Admission is free to all on each Sunday; note that the museum is open seasonally May to October. Children under 5 always receive free admission.

 

SWEDISH AMERICAN MUSEUM

Admission is free for all visitors on the second Tuesday of the month, year round. Members and children under the age of one are free

 

CLARKE HOUSE MUSEUM

Admission always free. 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 16 or more).

 

GLESSNER HOUSE MUSEUM

Admission is free on Wednesdays, year round.

 

CHARNLEY-PERSKY HOUSE

Tours are free on Wednesdays, through March (tour limited to 15 individuals).

 

Related Listings

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-7827

DuSable Museum of African American History
740 E. 56th Pl.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 947-0600

Swedish American Museum
5211 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 728-8111

The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

Brookfield Zoo/Chicago Zoological Society
31st St. and First Ave.
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 755-5100

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FREE THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO

ALWAYS FREE CHICAGO ATTRACTIONS

NEW MUSEUM EXHIBITS FOR 2016

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

Clarke House Museum
1827 S. Indiana Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-1480

Glessner House Museum
1800 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-1480

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