Chicago boasts an impressive number of acclaimed museums and cultural institutions. All across the city, there are museums to document the history and culture of various people, topics, and interests. Most of these public institutions feature free days at certain times of the year. Check out our list of free days for Chicago’s most popular museums.
2023 Free Chicago Museum Days
Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr, 312-922-7827
The Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the country. Admission to Adler Planetarium is free for Illinois residents every Wednesday evening from 4-10 pm. Teachers and active duty military are free every day.
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600
The Art Institute supplies free days throughout the year for Illinois residents. For 2023, free days are Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, starting on January 9, 2023, through March 24, 2023. Free tickets for Illinois residents must be reserved online in advance.
Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to children under 18 who are residents of Chicago. All children under age 14 always have free admission, as well as Link and WIC cardholders, active military, and Illinois educators.
If you have children you may want to try to check out a Chicago Public Library Free Museum pass
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St., 312-642-4600
The Chicago History Museum offers free days to Illinois residents on January 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 26, 27 and 31. February 1, 2,3, 7, 8,9,10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 28. July 4. Illinois residents under 18 are free and non-Illinois residents 12 and under are free.
Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, Raymond B. & Jean T. Lee Center, 238 West 23rd St., 312-949-1000
This Chinese cultural center has a suggested donation of $8 for adults, and $5 for students and seniors.
Clarke House Museum, 1827 S Indiana Ave., 312-326-1480
Documenting the oldest house in Chicago, Clarke House Museum has free admission all year round. Tours are on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 pm. Limited to eight guests – first come, first served.
DePaul University Art Museum, 935 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-325-7506
This museum boasts an extensive collection of historic and contemporary art. Admission is free for all visitors year-round.
Design Museum of Chicago, 72 E. Randolph.312-894-6263
With exhibits that explore the different ways the manipulated environment influences us, the Design Museum of Chicago is always free.
DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, 740 E 56th Pl., 773-947-0600.
The DuSable is the nation’s oldest independent African American Museum. It is named for Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a businessman who was Chicago’s first permanent non-indigenous resident.
All visitors receive free admission on Wednesdays at DuSable Museum, and first responders and active military are always free. Advance online booking is suggested for all visitors.
Field Museum, 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-9410
Illinois residents receive free basic admission and discounted passes to explore ticketed exhibits on selected dates throughout the year.
Upcoming 2023 free dates for Illinois residents are January 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, and 31. February 1, 7, 8, 14,15, and 20.
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660
Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays and visitors under 18, those with disabilities and their caregivers, first responders, veterans, and Illinois elementary and high school teachers are always free. The museum also has a pay-what-you-can policy so that nobody is turned away.
Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S Michigan Ave, (312) 663-5554
This Columbia College Chicago museum that displays art and journalistic photography offers free admission daily. Timed tickets in advance are required.
Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Dr., 773-684-1414.
Illinois teachers, first responders, active military, and veterans are always free at this scientific discovery museum. Upcoming 2023 free days for Illinois resident visitors have not been announced yet.
Check the website for the dates as announced.
National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W 19th St, 312-738-1503
Dedicated to traditional and contemporary Mexican art, the National Museum of Mexican Art offers free admission daily.
The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, 3015 West Division St., 773-486-8345
The only museum dedicated to Puerto Rican history and culture outside of Puerto Rico, this museum supplies free admission daily.
National Veterans Art Museum, 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd floor, 312-326-0270
This museum provides free admission daily.
Oriental Institute Museum, 1155 E 58th St, 773-702-9520
Reservations available every fifteen minutes are required for visits to the Oriental Insitute. In order to give as many visitors as possible an opportunity to enjoy the museum, all visits are limited to one hour. Free admission daily with a suggested donation of $10 adult and $5 child.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr.,733-755-5100
This interactive natural history museum offers free admission to Illinois residents on January 5, 12, 19 and 26. Illinois teachers and active military are admitted for free every day.
Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr, 312-939-2438
Illinois residents get access to permanent and special exhibits on select days throughout the year. Upcoming free days for 2023 include January 12-16. Advance reservations are required and there is a $3 per order transaction fee for Illinois free day tickets. Educators from Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana receive free admission as well as first responders, active military, veterans, and those receiving Federal food assistance.
Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S Greenwood Ave., 773-702-0200
This museum located on the University of Chicago campus provides free admission but reservations are recommended.
Swedish American Museum, 5211 N Clark St., 773-728-8111
Admission is free for all visitors on the second Tuesday of the month, year-round.
Note: Identification and proof of Illinois residency are required for free days.
This program, sponsored by the 15 Museums Work for Chicago institutions, allows individuals with a Chicago Public Library card to check out a pass for free general admission to the Art Institute. (This program replaces the Kraft Great Kids Museum Passport Program, which has been offered by CPL since 2003.) Please note the new rules regarding the use of the Kids Museum Passport:
- Each pass admits a maximum of four people for general admission, including special exhibitions.
- Each group using a pass must be accompanied by at least one child under the age of 18.
- A maximum of two adults are admitted on one pass.
Check, in advance, with each museum to see if they are still participating in the program.
Bank of America Museums on Us. On the first weekend of every month, anyone with a Bank of America credit or debit card can get free admission to museums nationwide through the Museums on Us program. Museums included under this program are:
- Adler Planetarium
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Chicago History Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
- Shedd Aquarium (Sundays only)