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Free Museum Days In Chicago for 2023

Find out when you can visit Chicago's top museums for free in 2023. 🏛

by Chicago Bucket List

 

Who doesn't love a good museum day? Whether you're looking to change up your date night routine, need something to do on a rainy day, or just want to see a T-Rex up close, spending an afternoon wandering through galleries and exhibits is always a good idea.

But do you want to know what's even better? Doing it all for FREE, of course. 

There is a plethora of renowned establishments within the city that offer free entrance days throughout the year. See fossils and butterflies at The Field Museum, Van Gogh's renowned self-portrait at the Art Institute, and sharks and beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium. We've rounded up all the free museum days offered in Chicago this year, so you can mark the dates in your calendar (or just bookmark this page) and enjoy Chicago's museums and galleries for free! 

 

2023 Free Musem Days in Chicago

  

 
 
 
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A post shared by The Art Institute of Chicago (@artinstitutechi) on 

Art Institute 

The Art Institute is a must see whether you're a tourist visiting this amazing city or a local Chicagoan! Located in Grant Park, it's one of the oldest and most visited museums in Chicago (and the world!), and we recommend you take advantage of these free museum days!

  • Chicago residents under 18 years-old can see the exhibits at any time for free!
  • All Children 14 years-old and younger are welcome for free at all times! 
  • Illinois residents of all ages are able to enjoy enjoy free admission year-round on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from January 9–March 24.
  • Active-duty military and their families receive free admission to the museum Memorial Day through Labor Day!
  • Are you an educator in Illinois? You can go for free any day of the year. Just print your voucher here and show it when you arrive. Includes Pre-K through grade 12 public school teachers, home school teachers, teaching artists working in schools, and more.
  • University students are entitled to free admission when they show their student ID. Check this list to see if you school is one of the Art Institute's University Partners.
  • If you're a LINK or WIC cardholder, just present your card for free admission to all exhibits at the museum.

Where: 
111 S. Michigan Ave. - The Loop 

Hours:
Thursday: 11 am – 8 pm
Friday–Monday: 11 am – 8 pm
Tuesday & Wednesday: Closed

For more information.  

 

 
 
 
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Museum of Contemporary Art 

Standing as one of the largest contemporary museums in the world, the Museum of Contemporary Art is filled with history, culture, and exciting exhibitions that feature modern art of our time by artists of local and international prominence! The museum believes art should be accessible, and has a pay-what-you-can policy, but you can visit for free if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Free for MCA Members and anyone 18 and under.
  • Admission is free for Illinois residents every Tuesday.
  • Illinois elementary and high school teachers receive free admission every day. Simply present a valid teacher ID at the admissions desk.
  • Visitors with disabilities and their caregivers receive free admission every day.
  • FREE for members of the military, police, fire departments, veterans, and anyone 18 and under!
  • $3 tickets for up to six individuals when visitors present their LINK Card.

Where: 
220 E. Chicago Ave. - Streeterville

Hours:
Wednesday – Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm
Tuesday: 10 am – 9pm
Monday: Closed

For more information.

 
 
 
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Adler Planetarium

Planets, Stars and Space…oh my! Experience outer space like never before through the study of astronomy and astrophysics at the Adler Planetarium. There are endless possibilities here with immersive theater programs, amazing out of this world exhibits, and special events like in-person lectures and viewing parties! 

  • Illinois residents receive free admission every Wednesday from 4 pm – 10 pm.
  • Chicago residents receive $2 off admission when they show proof of residence.
  • If you qualify for LINK or WIC, you can receive a Museum Entry +1 (which includes one show) for up to eight people at $1 per guest. Any guest who wishes to upgrade to a Museum Entry +2 may do so for $5 per guest.
  • Illinois Teachers and educators can get one free adult Museum Entry admission with proof of employment.
  • Active-duty U.S. military, national guard, reserve and military veteran personnel receive one free adult Museum Entry admission.
  • Museums in the Park (MIP) & Park District Employees can get two free Museum Entry admissions.
  • Students and seniors (65+) can get $2 off their admission when they come. This applies every time!

Where: 
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr. - South Loop/Museum Campus

Hours:
Friday – Monday: 9 am – 4 pm
Wednesday: 4 pm – 10 pm
Tuesday & Thursday: Closed exclusvely for group and school field trips.

*Note: The Adler Planetarium has amazing deals for discounted tickets throughout the year, these discounted passes must be purchased in person on the day of your visit!* 

For more information.  

 
 
 
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Field Museum 

In this beloved Chicago museum you can expect to see over 24 million historical objects from earth, plants, animals, people, and more! Who wouldn’t want to see real dinosaur bones? With about 4.6 billion years under this roof, it's your ticket to timetravel back in history.

  • Illinois residents can enjoy FREE entry to the museum on the following dates:
    • January: 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31
    • February: 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20
    • March: 7, 14
  • Basic admission is complimentary for active military personnel and Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12th grade). Jhow your employee or military status ID when purchasing tickets at the museum (cannot be purchased online).
  • Families with valid Link or WIC cards are eligible for $3-per-person basic admission for up to six people (tickets cannot be purchased online).
  • Illinois residents receive $2 off general admission prices every day
  • Chicago residents receive $10 off general admission prices every day

Where: 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. - South Loop/Museum Campus 

Hours:
The Field Museum is open every day but Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
Museum open daily from 9 am – 5 pm. The last admission is at 4 pm. 

For more information.

 
 
 
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Shedd Aquarium 

The Shedd Aquarium is like no other aquarium in the world. Penguin training, dolphin shows, and shark feeding are only three out of the many opportunities for you to experience at the Shedd! 

  • Illinois residents receive free admission on the following days:
    • January: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
    • February: 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28
  • Educators from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin can receive a complimentary Shedd ticket by reserving tickets online.
  • Chicago police officers and firefighters receive free on-site general admission with proper ID.
  • Active-duty U.S. military personnel receive free general admission with proper ID.
  • Museums in the Park employees and volunteers receive free admission for themselves and up to 2 guests.
  • If you’re a Chicago Public Library cardholder and an adult resident of Chicago, you may check out a Kids Museum Passport at any CPL location, which allows a family of four general admission during regular hours.

Where:
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. - South Loop/Museum Campus

Hours:

Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Weekends: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Extended summer hours (June 15-Aug. 18, 2019) 
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the exception of July 27

For more information.

 
 
 
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Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Immerse yourself in the natural world at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Learn how butterflies get their colors, how turtles hibernate, and how birds know where to migrate every year (along with more much more) through interactive exhibits, and events.

  • Enjoy suggested donation admission on the following dates:
    • January: 5, 12, 19, 26.
    • February: 2, 9, 16, 23.
  • Admission is free for active-duty service members and their families with proof of ID.
  • Illinois teachers receive free admission with proof of employment.
  • LINK and WIC cardholders get in receive a discounted admission rate of $1 per person, for up to six people in their party.
  • Children under 3 are always free!
  • Receive 10% off admission when you purchase tickets in advance online in January and February.

Where:
2430 N. Cannon Dr. - Lincoln Park

Hours:

The museum is open 7 days a week from 10 am – 4 pm. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For more information.

Chicago History Museum 

Calling all history buffs! This museum is filled with a wide range of Chicago history, but is focused on being the hub of scholarship, learning, inspiration, and civic engagement. This Museum in Lincoln Park is not to be missed.

  • Illinois residents of all ages are offered free museum days throughout the year:
    • January: 16–20, 24–27, 31
    • February 1–3, 7–10, 14–17, 20–24, 28
  • Children under 12 years-old and Illinois residents under 18 years-old are always free!
  • A discounted admission fee of $3 is offered to individuals and families presenting a LINK or WIC card for up to 4 adults.
  • City of Chicago residents receive a $2 discount (with valid ID)
  • Free for Chicago Police, US Armed Service, Fire Department, and Illinois Teachers, when proof of ID is presented.

Where:
1601 N. Clark St. - Lincoln Park

Hours:

Tuesday-Saturday: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm 
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm
Mondays: Closed, except on select commemorative days.

For more information.

(Cover photo credit: Field Museum) 

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