Chicagoland’s Free Museum Days You Don’t Want to Miss in 2024

Enjoy family fun that is easy on the wallet with these local museums offering free admission.

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 next few months for free museum days. You’re on your own in the gift shop. Looking for more fun things to do with kids in Chicagoland? Check out our weekend picks!

This article was recently updated on April 9, 2024 by Chicago Parent’s Assistant Editor, Nikki Roberts. The update included her research and fact-checking expertise to provide the latest information on free admission days at Chicagoland museums, aligning with Chicago Parent’s mission to provide the top parenting resources for local families. Questions? Please reach out to nikki@chicagoparent.com.

City

Adler Planetarium

Free on Wednesdays 4-10 p.m.

Art Institute of Chicago

Free admission days will resume in June. 

Kids under 14 and Chicago teens under 18 are always free. 

Chicago Children’s Museum

2024 Dates TBA

Chicago History Museum

  • April 2024: 10, 18, 24
  • May 2024: 1, 27, 29

Always free for Illinois residents under age 18 and all children under 12

DuSable Museum of African American History

Admission is free every Wednesday. Illinois Public School students in K-12 are free.

Field Museum

  • April 2024: 3, 10, 17, 24
  • May 2024: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
  • June 2024: 5, 12, 19, 26
  • July 2024: 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
  • August 2024: 7, 14, 21, 28
  • September 2024: 4, 11, 18, 25
  • October 2024: 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • November 2024: 6, 13, 20, 27
  • December 2024: 4, 11, 18

Lincoln Park Zoo

Always free.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents, kids 18 and under are always free.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Always free. Must reserve tickets in advance.

Museum of Science and Industry

  • April 2024: 21
  • June 2024: 6, 19

National Museum of Mexican Art

Always free.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Free admission every Thursday for weekly donation days. $10 optional donation suggested.

Shedd Aquarium

  • April 2024: 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • May 2024: 7, 14, 21, 28
  • June 2024: 4, 11, 18, 25

Also free on Tuesday evenings between 5-9 p.m. from March 5-June 25.

Suburbs

Brookfield Zoo 

Check the Brookfield Zoo website for the latest updates. 

Chicago Botanic Garden

  • April 2024: 8-11
  • May 2024: 7, 9
  • June 2024: 11, 13, 19
  • July 2024: 9, 11
  • August 2024: 6, 8
  • September 2024: 10, 12
  • October 2024: 1, 2, 14
  • November 2024: 4-8, 11, 12
  • December 2024: 9-15

Note: Free admissions are not applicable during ticketed events. 

Elmhurst History Museum

Always free. Must reserve tickets in advance.

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

  • April 2024: 28
  • May 2024: 26
  • June 2024: 30

Kids and students visit free through April 14, 2024. 

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Arts

Free on Wednesdays. Children under 7 are always free. 

Mascot Hall of Fame (Whiting, Indiana)

Free the first Friday of every month in 2024. 

Wilmette Historical Museum

Always free.

Other

Bank of America Free Days

Have a Bank of America card? Simply present your card on the first full weekend of each month and get free admission to various Chicago area museums. One per cardholder, so it won’t be free for the entire family (unless each of your children has a credit card), but a free adult admission is nothing to sneeze at.

Museums For All Initiative

A fun day out at the museum isn’t always super fun for your wallet. Through Museums for All, families that receive food assistance can take advantage of free or significantly discounted admission for up to 4 people when they present their SNAP EBT card. With more than 40 participating museums in Illinois, there’s no shortage of exciting discoveries to be had.


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.
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