Free days for Chicago museums


Chicago's museums are world-class, but all those bones, weather simulators and rides in Chicago's first El train car don't come cheap. Throw in parking, special exhibits, and the gift shop, and it adds up fast. But in the philanthropic spirit of our fine city, most museums offer free admission for Illinois residents on certain days. Here's a complete calendar for the coming month. You're on your own in the gift shop.

Free days can change at the last minute, so ALWAYS call first to confirm before heading out to the museums. And please note that these are for Illinois residents only in most cases.

Check out our complete guide to Chicagoland's museums: Reviews, coming exhibits and tailored tours for little feet


Bank of America Free Days

Have a Bank of America card? Then on the first full weekend of each month present your card and get a free admission to The Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, the Chicago History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium. One per cardholder, so it won't be free for the entire family (unless each of your children have a B of A credit card), but a free adult admission is nothing to sneeze at.

Check out Bank of America website.


Adler Planetarium

January: 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28
February: 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25
March: 2-4



Art Institute of Chicago

Free for all Illinois residents from 5-8 p.m. Thursdays. Kids 13 and under are always free.

Free Winter Weekdays: Jan. 5-Feb. 10, free to Illinois residents every weekday.



Chicago Children's Museum

Free 5-8 p.m. every Thursday and the first Sunday of every month for kids 15 and under. Always free to children under 1.


Chicago History Museum

January: 5-9, 12-15, 19-23, 26-30

February: Weekdays

March: 4

July: 4

August: 18-20, 24-27, 31

September: 1-3




Field Museum

January: 7, 14-15

February: 1-28





Museum of Contemporary Art

Always free Tuesdays 10 a.m.-8 p.m. for Illinois residents; children 12 and under are free every day.

From October through May, the second Saturday of the month is free for families with children 12 and under.




Museum of Science and Industry

January: 5-9; 12-16, 19-23, 26-30 (i.e. weekdays in January starting Jan. 5)

February: Kids 3-11 are free all month (two free kids tickets permitted per purchase of one paying adult).

March: 2-6



John G. Shedd Aquarium

January: 5-8, 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


Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Thursdays are free for Illinois residents. Children under 3 are free every day.


DuSable Museum of African American History

The museum is free on Sundays and offers discounts to Chicago residents all other days. Admission and pricing


Fischer Farm

Free: Wednesday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. free tours of the farmhouse and grounds are offered.


McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

Free on Sundays from May 10-Oct. 31.


Elmhurst Historical Museum Free Days

Free admission: Always free.


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