Martin Luther King Jr. Day offers opportunities to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King by supporting racial justice causes, giving back to the community, and attending events that reflect his fight for equality and civil rights. Chicago boasts a particular connection with the icon because it was here that he joined the Chicago Freedom Movement and worked to create fair and open housing for Black people. Consider these free events to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Day on January 16, 2023.
These Chicago Museums are free on January 16, 2023:
Art Institute of Chicago: Check out the exhibit, “The Language of Beauty on African Art.”
The Field Museum: Explore the “Africa” and “Inside Ancient Egypt ” exhibits.
Shedd Aquarium: Visit the Caribbean Reef.
Chicago History Museum
Family Event — Martin Luther King Jr. Day
1601 N. Clark St., 312-642-4600
10:30 am – 3:30 pm
Join in a freedom sing-along, learn about the North Lawndale neighborhood where Dr. King once lived, and view the “King in Chicago” documentary at this annual event that honors Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and activism, particularly in Chicago. This all-ages event is free with museum admission, which is free for Illinois residents for the day. Register for the museum’s online account to receive free tickets.
DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
740 E. 56th Place, 773-947-0600
10:00 am- 4:00 pm
Explore a pop-up civil rights exhibit, a hip hop performance and view “Boycott,” a movie that traces events surrounding the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, AL. A 1950s bus will be parked outside the museum in honor of Rosa Parks. The museum’s King Day events also include a food court, children’s storytime, a DJ and live taping of elders’ memories of Dr. King. The virtual reality exhibit, “The March,” tracing the historic 1963 march on Washington, will also be featured. General admission tickets are $12.50
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Ave.
MLK Day 2023: South Side Stories
Honor the legacy of historic Black leaders with movies, music and art. South Side Stories will feature historic South Side home movies dating from the 20s to the 80s, paired with music from local DJs. Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will present a tribute to Florence Price, the first Black female composer to have a symphony performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Join in artmaking and learn about the Chicago mural movement and share stories with the teens from the Hyde Park Art Center and Lumpen Radio. THe event is free but registration is encouraged.
Museum of Science and Industry
5700 N. DuSable Lake Shore Dr.
Black Creativity Family Day
9:30 am-5:30 pm
The annual Black Creativity exhibit showcases African American innovation in art, science and technology. For family day, visitors can participate in an interactive art experience that mixes art with sound for an immersive community experience. Guests are invited to create art inspired by the music they hear and the piece will be gathered into one community art installation. Tickets are $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for children.
Southside Community Art Center
3831 S. Michigan Ave.
Visions For A New Future
Participate in an afternoon of vision boarding, where visitors create their own visual representations of what an equitable future looks like. The center provides materials to craft a vision board filled with images that will inspire you to reach your dreams on a daily basis. The all-ages event is free but reservations are encouraged.
A Day of House Martin Luther King Holiday Tribute
5311 S. Lake Park Ave.
2:00 pm-8:00 pm
Groove to the freeing rhythms of Chicago’s homegrown house music at this day party in honor of Dr. King. Six different DJs focusing on deep house, Latin, African, retro and soul, will weave sections of Dr. King’s speeches between throbbing beats. Tickets in advance are $10.