Free Museum Days in Chicagoland

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!


Adler Planetarium

Free on Wednesdays 4-10 p.m.

Art Institute of Chicago

Free for Illinois residents from 5 p.m. -8 p.m. on Thursdays through August 31, 2023. Kids under 14 and Chicago teens under 18 are always free. 

Chicago Children’s Museum

  • May: 25

DuSable Museum of African American History

Free on Wednesdays. Kids 5 and under are always free.

Field Museum

  • May: 30
  • June: 6, 13, 19

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

  • June: 1, 6-7
  • August: 22, 28-29
  • September: 5-6, 10-12, 15, 17-20, 26

National Museum of Mexican Art

Always free.

Shedd Aquarium

Summer free days TBD. Check the Shedd’s website for the latest updates. 


Brookfield Zoo 

There are currently no free days listed for summer 2023. Check the Brookfield Zoo website for the latest updates. 

Elmhurst History Museum

Always free. Must reserve tickets in advance.

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

  • May: 26
  • June: 30
  • July: 28
  • August: 25

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. 

Wilmette Historical Museum

Always free.


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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