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Chicago is a great museum city. The Art Institute of Chicago is probably the country’s best art museum. The Field Museum and Museum of Science & Industry are wonderful science museums and the Shedd Aquarium is the largest and best aquarium in the country. There are also several small and interesting museums.

Unfortunately like much of Chicago, the museums can be very expensive, especially for a family. A family of 4 can easily spend over $100 just on admissions. Luckily most of the museums offer free days, at least for Illinois residents.

There are some caveats to the free museum days. The first is that it usually only covers general admission. Most of the museums in Chicago have a lot to see with just the general admission and if you want to you can get an all access pass for a reduced price. The second is the crowds. Free admission is a real bargain so some of the museums can be very crowded. I made the mistake of going to a free day at the Shedd Aquarium only to find a line snaking out of the entrance and winding its way around the grounds. Three hours was the grim news from the staff member when asked about the wait. Happily the wait at the nearby Field Museum was only a few minutes.

Free Admission Museum Days for Illinois Residents

The Art Institute of Chicago: Jan 5 – Feb 10 weekdays will be free.  All Thursday evenings, when the museum stays open late, 8:00 pm, you can get in free after 5:00 pm. Illinois educators receive free admission every day. Admission, which covers the whole museum, is normally $20.

The Shedd Aquarium: Jan. 5, 6, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, Feb. 2, 3, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, June 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, Sept. 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29, Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24. The free admission only covers the original aquarium but you can get discounted all access passes on these days.  Educators from Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin and active military personal, from any state, can register online to get to free passes that cover most of the aquarium. Admission is normally $8 for adults and $6 for children.

The Field Museum: Jan. 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, and all of February. Illinois teachers and all active military personnel get in free every day.  Free admission covers basic admittance only and more comprehensive passes can be purchased for a discount. Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors and $13 for children.

The Museum of Science & Industry:  Jan. 5-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, March 2-6, April 22, May 21, June 1-5, 8, Sept. 8-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28-30, Oct. 5, 6. Teachers and active military personnel are always free. Free admission does not cover special exhibits. Admission is regularly $18 for adults and $11 for children.

Chicago History Museum: Free all January and February weekdays. March 4, July 4, Aug 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, Sept. 1, 2, 3. Children under 12 are always free. Admission is normally $14 for adults and $12 for seniors and students, (13-22).

Museum of Contemporary Art: Free on Tuesdays. Normally $7.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Thursdays are suggested donation days. Normal admission is $9 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.

Adler Planetarium: Jan. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28. Illinois teachers and active military personnel are always free.  Basic admission only but the discount can be applied to an all access pass. $12 for adults, $8 for children and $10 for students.

Loyola University Museum of Art: Free every Tuesday for everyone on all Tuesdays. Clergy members and active military personnel and their families are always free. Admission is normally $8 for adults and $2 for students.

Clarke House Museum & Glessner House Museum: Free every Wednesday. Admission is normally $15.



Doug B
01/07/2015 10:57am

Many of the Museums are free today, Jan 7, because of schools closings.

05/28/2015 4:35am

This news is very useful for me. I think it gives all the new updates related to social media sites


Nifty Tips, We are glad that you find this to be useful. We also post a weekly weekend calendar of events in Chicago each Friday on our Facebook page.

07/26/2016 3:10am

nice pic


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