With admission rates as high as $31 a person at some Chicago museums, a family of four can easily spend $100 before lunch. Lucky for us, most all Chicago museums offer FREE DAYS. The museums may be a little more crowded but that’s a small price to pay for the money you’ll save.
Below is a current listing of FREE DAYS for 2015–followed by a list of Chicago museums that are free year-round. Please note that many of these are limited to Illinois residents. This list is current, as of January 2, 2015 but you may want to call ahead if you are going later in the year as dates are always subject to change.
Free admission days for Illinois residents are: January 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28.
Art Institute of Chicago
The AIC offers free admission every Thursday evening year-round from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and weekdays from January 5 to February 10 for Illinois residents.
Free admission days for Brookfield Zoo are in January and February on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the first Sunday of every month are free.
Chicago History Museum
Illinois residents free admission days are: January 5–9, 12–15, 19–23, 26–30; February weekdays; March 4; July 4; August 18–20, 24–27, 31 and September 1–3.
Clarke House Museum
Wednesdays are free year-round.
DuSable Museum of African American History
Sundays are free year-round.
Elmhurst Art Museum
Fridays are free year-round.
The Field Museum
Free general admission for Illinois residents January 5–7, 14, 15 and February 1–28.
Glessner House Museum
Wednesday are free year-round.
Loyola University Museum of Art
Tuesdays are free year-round.
McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum
Sundays are free year-round
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
Free admission the first Friday of every month.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Free every Tuesday for Illinois residents (military personnel and children 12 and under, always free).
Museum of Science and Industry
Free general admission for Illinois residents: January 5–9, 12–16, 19–23, 26–30; March 2–6; April 22; May 21;
June 1–5, 8; September 8–11, 14–18, 21–25, 28–30; October 5, 6.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Thursdays are free year-round for Illinois residents, however there is a suggested donation.
Free general admission for Illinois residents on the following days: January 5, 6, 12, 13, 18–20, 23–27; February 2, 3, 9, 10, 13–17, 23, 24; June 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16; September 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29; October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27; November 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24.
Swedish American Museum
Free admission the second Tuesday of every month year-round.
The following museums are free year-round:
- The Chicago Cultural Center
- Cantigny Park and First Division Museum in Wheaton (parking is $5)
- DePaul Art Museum
- Lincoln Park Zoo
- Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art
- National Museum of Mexican Art
- The Oriental Institute Museum (suggested, but not required donation $10 adults; $5 children)
- Smart Museum of Art
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