Here’s the deal on free day at Field Museum Chicago.
If you’re thinking about heading to the Field on free day but wondering what the deal is I’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s what you get (and don’t get) at the Field Museum 1400 S Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-9410.
Tickets for Free Days are only available to Illinois residents on-site and cannot be reserved in advance. Ask a Visitor Services staff member for the special offer and show your Illinois proof of residency. You cannot take advantage of Free Days when buying tickets online.
- On free day they will check proof of residency for all adults in your party. You can use your, Illinois lease, Illinois library card, Illinois student ID with photo, Illinois utility bill, Illinois work ID or check stub, Passport with Illinois address.
Announced 2022 free days:
Aug. 23, 24, 30, 31;
Sept. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28;
Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26;
Nov. 1, 2, 8, 9.
(Find more here as they are announced.)
Hours: Every day from 9AM–5PM (last admission 4PM). Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas (December 25).
Here’s the deal on free day at Field Museum Chicago – Overview
What’s included with Basic Admission
Basic Admission entitles you entry into the Museum and access to all permanent and non-ticketed exhibits, which includes SUE, Evolving Planet, The Ancient Americas, and Inside Ancient Egypt
Also included are exhibitions on many different cultures, mammals, birds, gems, minerals, and plants.
You will also have access to the Crown Family Playlab which is open Thursdays-Mondays from 10am-4pm with last admission at 3pm. This area is geared for children ages 2-6 years old.
You do not get access to ticketed exhibits and 3D movies.
Discounted passes on Free Days for Illinois Residents
On Free Admission Days Illinois residents (with valid proof of residency) can purchase one of four passes at discounted prices.
Discounted passes must be purchased on arrival at The Field Museum and are not available online in advance. (They are if you buy full price tickets online.) With pre-purchased tickets you can proceed into the museum and show your tickets to the security guard. You can also skip the line with City Pass. No free or discounted tickets are can be purchased online.
Here’s the deal on free day at Field Museum Chicago – Free day is worth it
The Field Museum exhibit area is 480,000 square feet. There are many interesting and educational things to do with just Basic Free Admission and would probably take a few days to cover.
If you are thinking about visiting more than one attraction the City Pass or Go Chicago Card both offer the best discount you can find. Using these passes takes some planning but you will save a lot of money which you can reallocate to dining or hotel costs or something else.
When you get past security there is an information desk on the left where docents give free and very informative tours of various exhibits like Sue and the Lions of Tsavo or Museum Highlights
The Field allows you to bring in outside food and beverages and has seating areas on the first floor near the stairwell. If the weather’s nice you can head over to 12th Street Beach for a picnic or exit at the North Entrance (by Sue) and walk over to dine along the grassy slopes outside the Shedd. You can reenter same day with your tickets and you can head straight to security and bypass the line on reentry.
Timeline of the Field Museum
- July 22, 1889 The Mayor appoints a committee to organize the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
- September 16, 1893 Charter from the State of Illinois creates the Columbian Museum of Chicago.
- October 26, 1893 Marshall Field donates $1,000,000 toward establishment of the Columbian Museum
- May 21, 1894 Trustees vote to change the Museum’s name to Field Columbian Museum.
- June 2, 1894 Opening Day for the Field Columbian Museum at the former Palace of Fine Arts Building in Jackson Park, what is now the Museum of Science & Industry.
- November 10, 1905 Trustees vote to change the Museum’s name to Field Museum of Natural History.
- 1906 The search for The Field Museum’s new, permanent home was not without controversy as the architect of the Plan for Chicago, Daniel Burnham, fought for legislative permission to build the Museum along Chicago’s lakefront.
- 1906 Marshall Field dies and bequeths $8,000,000 to the Field Museum. This funds the new building and an endowment.
- 1914 Construction begins on new home for Field Museum of Natural History in Grant Park at a cost of $7 million. Architectural firm: Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. Architect: Peirce Anderson. See Field Museum Bulletin article, “The Burnham Plan and Field Museum.”
- September 28, 1917 Cornerstone laid for new building.
- March 1920 Specimens moved from Jackson Park site to Grant Park site. See the Library’s flickr photo set, Moving the Field Museum (1920)
- May 2, 1921 Opening Day at current Grant Park location.
- 1922 A new era of extensive expeditions is inaugurated and continues until the beginning of the Great Depression. These expeditions focused on obtaining objects for the Museum’s exhibitions.
- 1925-1949 Marshall Field II donates approximately $9,000,000.
- December 6, 1943 Trustees vote to change the Museum’s name to Chicago Natural History Museum. (The name changes to Field Museum of Natural History in 1966).
- 1945 In the Post World War II Era, The Field Museum begins a new focus on scientific research instead of collecting items for its exhibitions.
- March 1, 1966 Trustees vote to change the Museum’s name back to Field Museum of Natural History in honor of Stanley Field who ran the Museum for 50 years and other Field family members who donated over the years. See Field Museum Bulletin article, “Field Museum Again.”
- October 4, 1997 The Field Museum acquires Sue, here and here and here., at auction for $8.36 million. Read the dramatic story of how Sue ended up at the Field
- May 2000 Sue is unveiled to the public.
- September 12, 2005 Collections Resource Center (CRC) opens, expanding the Museum’s collection space by 186,000 square feet and 45,000 storage drawers and shelves. See In the Field
- October 19, 2011 The Field Museum’s bathroom is voted the best in the country. Read the full story.
- December 2015 Former Field employee accused of stealing $900k from the Field. Read the full story.