Click here for list of free admission days for 2017
With museum prices easily topping out at over $100 for a family of four–many people can’t realistically afford the cost of a museum visit. That’s why Museum Free Days which are offered by most Chicago museums (typically to Illinois residents with valid proof of residency) are the way to go.
In addition to free days other options include the City Pass which offers discounted admission to five institutions and is available to everyone; the Chicago Pass that offers discounts at 20 plus Chicago attractions; the kids museum pass that is available through the Chicago Public Library for Chicago residents that have a library card; and the Oak Park library pass for OPL cardholders.
Every year the free days at various museums may change so it is important to keep up to date. Don’t assume that just because Tuesdays and Thursdays were free at a museum last year that they will be free again this year
Show Me Chicago has put together a list of FREE DAYS for 2016 at many of Chicago and the surrounding Chicago area’s most popular institutions. We will continue to update the list as days are added throughout the year.
Many museums will be offering free general admission on Martin Luther King day (January 18, 2016). In addition, the Museum Campus (Field, Shedd, Adler) will offer free general admission for the entire month of February 2016.
Special programming and discounts will be offered during Museum Week 2016 in October.
Chicago Museums Free Admission Days for 2016
Adler Planetarium, Museum Campus, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Free admission days for Illinois residents are: January 11,12, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21,22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29; February, 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29; June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 and just added, June 19 (Father’s Day).
Saturday, December 3 through Friday, December 9, the Adler will be offering free daily general admission for all Illinois residents. Also see the World’s Largest Snow Globe inside the Grainger Sky Theater, now through January 1, 2017.
The Adler is offering all Illinois residents FREE general admission with proof of residency on select days in January including Martin Luther King Day.
Here’s the free admission dates just announced for January 2017: Friday, January 6–Friday, January 13; Monday, January 16 (Martin Luther King Day); Tuesday, January 17–Friday, January 20; Daily hours: 9:30 am–4 pm; Extended hours 9:30 am–6 pm on January 16, Martin Luther King Day
PRICES: FREE general admission at the Adler Planetarium is for Illinois residents with proof of residency on the above dates.
Illinois residents also may upgrade to an All Access Pass at a discounted price: $17.95 for adults; $16.95 for children. Tickets are required for any of the sky shows.
Art Institute of Chicago
General admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free for Illinois residents every weekday all day long from January 4 through February 11 and every Thursday evening year-round from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Children 13 and under are always free.
Free on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from January 1, through February 28. Admission to Hamill Family Play Zoo is free through February 29; Tuesdays and Thursdays from October 1 through December 31, 2016. Always free to all active, reservist, and retired members of the military.
Chicago History Museum
January and February Mondays through Fridays are free (please note CHM will be closed for the day on January 13); Monday, July 4; Monday–Thursday, August 22–25; Monday–Wednesday, August 29–31; and Monday–Wednesday, October 10–12.
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 13, 18, 23 and 24 and February 1–29; August 11, 27, 29; September 10, 17 (ID Day), 18, 19; October 2, 16, 30, 31; November 27; and December 3, 4, 18; from 9 am to 5 pm.
Looking ahead to 2017
Field Museum has announced free Basic admission on specified Free Days in January and February 2017.
Free days for January 2017: 4, 5, 16, 28, 29, 30.
Free days for February 2017: All month from February 1 through February 28. (9am-5pm)
Here’s the details: With proof of residency, Illinois residents can enjoy free Basic admission on specified Free Days in January and February. Visitors that want to upgrade to an All-Access Pass, which includes access to China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors (through January 8), Tattoo, Cyrus Tang Hall of China, Underground Adventure, and a 3D movie, can do so at the cost of 25 dollars for adults and 18 dollars for children ages 3-11. Seniors and students may purchase All-Access Passes for 21 dollars.
Glessner House Museum
Wednesdays are free year-round.
Loyola University Museum of Art
Tuesdays are free year-round.
McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum
Sundays are free May 10 through October 31. (closed during winter months).
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
January 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29; February 29; June 1,2, 3, 6, 7, 8; September 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30; October 4, 5, 6,; November 3, 10; December 1. From February 1 through February 29, 2016 the Museum is offering FREE MUSEUM ENTRY to kids ages 3-11. (Two free kids’ tickets permitted per voucher with the purchase of one paying adult.)
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Thursdays are free general admission (suggested donation) for Illinois residents. Children under 3 are free every day.
Just added for 2017
The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum—the city’s oldest museum—will celebrate its 160th birthday with five free days of admission for Illinois residents from Jan. 9-13, 2017
January: 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, (closed for maintenance 20, 21) 22-26; February: 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29; June: 6-7, 13-14; September: 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27; October: 3-4, 10-11, 17, 18 24, 25, 31; November: 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29
Swedish American Museum
Free admission the second Tuesday of every month year-round.
The following museums are ALWAYS FREE admission
The Chicago Cultural Center
Cantigny Park and First Division Museum in Wheaton (parking is $5)
Chicago Botanic Gardens, Glencoe (parking $25)
Clarke House Museum
DePaul Art Museum
Elmhurst Historical Museum
Garfield Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Farm in the Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo
Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art (Northwestern University campus, Evanston)
National Museum of Mexican Art
National Veterans Art Museum
The Oriental Institute Museum (suggested, but not required donation $10 adults; $5 children) Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture
Smart Museum of Art
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Filed under: Chicago Museums