Chicago is known for its world-class museums, but a day out at one of them with the family can be a budget-buster. Happily, Illinois residents can gain free basic entry at the best museums on select days throughout the year. We’ve got this year’s list below! Chicago residents can check out free museum passes from the Chicago Public Library.
Find other free museum days as well as an awesome list of free and low-cost family-friendly STEM and STEAM programs around Chicagoland on our event page. Join our newsletter to receive an awesome roundup of news and events twice a month.
Many Chicago museums participate in the Museums for All initiative. Those who qualify for state food assistance and cam show proof can visit at a discounted rate (usually less than $5) any day. See the museum website for details.
Some institutions allow you to reserve tickets online for free days (which can be crowded), but may charge a small fee for that service.
January 21-22, 29-31
February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28
April 2-4, 9-11
June 3-5, 10-13
September 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27
October 7-9, 14-16
November 8, 11
December 2-3, 7, 12-13
The free dates are subject to change, so be sure to check their website or call before you head to the Adler.
This unique museum in the heart of downtown Chicago is open from mid-May through late October. It’s always free for members of Friends of the Chicago River.
February 1-28 Yes, they will once again have free entry for locals the entire month of February.
September 4, 11, 18, 25
October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
November 6, 13
To find out more information and confirm details, head on over to the Field Museum website.
January 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31
February 4-7, 11-14, 19-21, 25-28
September 3-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26
Stay tuned for more. They are required to provide 52 free days to Illinois residents each year.
Confirm details on the MSI website.
February 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-28
June 17, 18, 24, 25
September 3, 4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30
October 1, 2
Plans sometimes change; please confirm details via the Shedd Aquarium website.
The Nature Museum
Every Thursday is Free Day for Illinois residents at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Technically, it’s Suggested Donation Thursdays, so give if you can (and prepare for crowds). Explore the entire museum – no special exhibit admission required! Plus, enjoy our daily programming, including Story Time, Critter Connections, Animal Feedings, and the First Flight Butterfly Release at no additional cost.
Check the Nature Museum site to confirm free day details.
Your Source for Family STEM Fun Around Chicago
Remember, you can find loads of free and low-cost STEM programs in Chicago and the suburbs on our Event page. And the STEM Kids Chicago newsletter delivers an awesome roundup of news and family-friendly events to your inbox twice a month.