11 Chicago Museums Offering Free Days This September

Photo Credit: The Field Museum

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. But in the philanthropic spirit of our fine city, most museums offer free admission days for Illinois residents. Luckily, September is full of them.

Museum of Science & Industry

Sept. 3–5, 9–12, 16–19, 23–26

  • Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Trains and castles and chicks, oh my! This science mecca is a guaranteed fun time for all ages. While you there, check out their new exhibit, Wired to Wear and learn all about wearable technology (not included in general admission).

Shedd Aquarium

Sept. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23-25, 30

  • Address: 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Your under-the-sea fantasies can come true! On Illinois Resident Free Days, check out all permanent exhibits, the Underwater Beauty special exhibit, aquatic shows and Stingray Touch without spending a single clam. Insider tip: Reserve your free ticket online.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24

  • Address: 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Embrace your creative side at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and you’ll be surprised how many family-friendly activities they offer. Kids 18 and under are always free.

Chicago History Museum

Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24

  • Address: 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago

Learn all about the history of Chicago and more with your family. Illinois resident children 18 and non-Illinois resident children 12 and under are always free.

DuSable Museum of African American History

Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24

  • Address: 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago

Explore African and African American history, culture and art at DuSable Museum. Kids 5 and under are always free.

Field Museum

Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25

  • Address: 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

If it’s been a while since you’ve given Sue your regards, free admission days can help you rectify that. Basic admission is free for Illinois residents, or you can get a Discovery Pass to see a ticketed exhibit or a 3D movie ($14, $10 kids 3-11). It’s worth the extra cost if your family wants to see their newest exhibit, Fantastic Bugs Encounter.

Midway Village Museum

Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26

  • Address: 6799 Guilford Rd, Rockford

Certainly worth the drive to Rockford, this history museum offers plenty of exhibits. Your kids will love to see the Dollhouse Museum.

Adler Planetarium

Sept. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27

  • Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Now you can check out the wonder of the cosmos without an astronomical cost. Illinois residents get free general admission, which includes all exhibits and experiences, except the sky shows, which are available for a discounted price.

Art Institute of Chicago

Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26

  • Address: 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

Add some art to your evening with free general admission for Illinois residents 5-8 p.m. every Thursday (some special exhibits cost extra). Kids under 14 are always free, as are teens who reside in Chicago. And be sure to stop by the Ryan Education Center for free art-making ops.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26

  • Address:  2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago

Every Thursday is a free day at this urban oasis, which is home to the beloved Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. Illinois residents can explore the museum’s family-friendly exhibits on the cheap—although donations are always welcome.

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Sept. 10

  • Address: 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie

Explore their Take a Stand Center, where visitors can interact with Holocaust survivors through a unique virtual experience.


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