Chicago’s FREE Museums

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Explore the immersive art, artifacts and cultures of Chicago…for free!

Experience Chicago’s award-winning museums, without spending a dime. Check out our ever-growing list of Chicago free museum days in 2023, plus some of our museums that are free all year long.

Adler Planetarium

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Adler Planetarium:

Every Wednesday evening from 4 – 10 p.m.

All tickets must be purchased online and in advance. Admission is always free for Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12).

National Museum of Mexican Art

Unlike some other museums that offer free admission on select days, The National Museum of Mexican Art holds free admission all year round. With a variety of collections from well-known Mexican, and Mexican-American, artists. The museum also has events in which you can engage with the community, make crafts, and express creativity! The museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays, but from Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.Located in the heart of Chicago, Pilsen is a neighborhood that celebrates culture, so after your trip, look around for some fantastic food!

Shedd Aquarium

Who doesn’t love exploring our great ocean? Well, at the Shedd Aquarium, one is able to immerse themselves in the aquatic animals, plants, and future of our oceans. Their three exhibits (Caribbean Reef, Abbot Oceanarium, and Polar Play Zone) give visitors a variety to explore and engage in. The Aquarium’s 4D experiences, Beluga Encounters, and must-see tours are definitely a trip anyone visiting Chicago should consider.

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Shedd Aquarium in 2023:

  • Jan. 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16
  • Feb. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, and 28

The Newberry Library

The Newberry Library is an independent library, museum, school and so much more! This institution has been changing and developing the lives of hundreds of Chicago visitors and residents. The Newberry Library holds a variety of exhibitions, collections, and programs that might just peak a visitor’s interest. Located in the Goldcoast neighborhood, the library holds over 1.6 million books and collections from over six centuries ago. Any visitor is sure to leave more informed. Stop by for a guided tour of the building, explore doodles from famous artists, and even discover facts about your family tree! The Newberry Library is free for the public and is open 10am – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday.

Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum offers free admission on select holidays and dates throughout the year.

Illinois residents can receive free admission on the following days in 2023:

  • Jan. 16 – 20, 24 – 27, 31
  • Feb. 1 – 3, 7 – 10, 14 – 17, 20 – 24, 28
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 16)
  • Presidents’ Day (Feb. 20)
  • Fourth of July (July 4)

Admission is always free for active duty military and veterans, active duty Chicago police and firefighters, Illinois teachers, Illinois residents under age 18, and all children under 12.

Field Museum of Natural History

Explore how we, humans, are connected to the bigger world at the Field Museum of Natural History! Located right on Lake Michigan, the museum holds the best, most welcoming views. With over 40 million artifacts and 65,000 exhibits, any visitor will leave glad they came. The museum still continues to research, therefore much of its presentations/ and programs are fairly up to date!

Upcoming free museum days at the Field Museum in 2023:

  • Jan. 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31
  • Feb. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20

Tickets for free days are only available onsite and cannot be reserved in advance. The free tickets include all general admission exhibitions, such as Evolving PlanetThe Ancient Americas, and Inside Ancient Egypt.

Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12th grade) and active military personnel receive free basic admission year-round.

Museum of Contemporary Art 

Love the modern world of art? Then you have to visit Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum offers a variety of paintings, sculptures, and programs that highlights some of the art world’s most well-known pieces. Considered one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to this form of art, the MCA is definitely a museum you dont want to miss out on. With engaging opportunities, alternating exhibits, and exploration of media in art, this won’t be your typical museum experience. The space welcomes innovation, curiosity, and creativity! The museum holds free admission for Illinois residents and other qualifications. There are a student and teacher passes for discounted prices. The MCA is open 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays. 

Art Institute Of Chicago

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Art Institute of Chicago:

  • Weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays) from Jan. 9 – March 24, 2023

To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance.

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