How to Access Free Museum Passes from Chicago Public Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card! Learn how to reserve free admission at the city's most popular attractions.

Visit your favorite children’s museums, sporting events, cultural centers, zoos and more this summer, thanks to the Digital Museum Pass program at the Chicago Public Library

Chicago residents who are card-carrying members of the Chicago Public Library (CPL) can reserve Digital Museum Passes that grant access to all sorts of free tickets, discounted admission and other perks at popular attractions. Learn more about this program and how to snag the best family deals and discounts at museums and other family attractions in Illinois. 

Many public library systems offer museum passes to their members, but the following information and tips are specific to the Chicago Public Library’s Digital Museum Passes. If you are a member of a different library, ask your librarians for more information about accessing free or discounted museum passes. Plus, be sure to take advantage of the many free days offered at Chicagoland museums

How do I reserve a Digital Museum Pass? 

Chicago public library museum passes

  1. Log in to Explore More Illinois with your CPL card number and PIN.
  2. Browse the attractions included in the Digital Museum Pass program. You can click through the tabs to learn more about each destination listed, including their hours, accessibility and offers for library card members. 
  3. Click “Show first available offer” in the top right hand corner of each attraction listing. 
  4. Read the offer description, then click the green “Reserve” button. 
  5. On the next page, double check that your preferred email address is listed. Click “Continue.” A confirmation email will be sent to the address listed.
  6. On the final confirmation page, check if your attraction accepts mobile or printed tickets. If the attraction only accepts printed tickets, print out your order confirmation now, or wait until the date of your visit. Once printed, you cannot cancel or change your reservation. 

What do I need to know about Digital Museum Passes? 

  • Only Chicago residents 18 and older with a valid Chicago Public Library card may reserve digital museum passes. 
  • Digital Museum Passes may only be reserved online through the Explore More Illinois website; there are no longer physical passes to be checked out or returned. Reservations can be made up to three months in advance. 
  • Each museum and attraction has specific guidelines, discounts and rules. Be sure to read the description for each attraction so you know what discounts you are eligible to receive. 
  • Some attractions only accept printed passes. Your confirmation email will note if a printed pass is required. In case you need to cancel or change your reservation, it is best to wait to print your pass until you are sure you will be able to use it. 
  • A trip to the library is not required to make a reservation, but CPL staff can assist with making reservations, retrieving digital tickets and printing. 

Which attractions are included in the Digital Museum Pass program? 

Chicago public library museum passes
Photo of SUE courtesy of The Field Museum

Museums, historical societies, zoos and much more are included in the Digital Museum Pass program. Discounts range from free admission for the entire family to a few dollars off tickets. These are just some of the many attractions and discounts included in this great program for Chicago families. 

American Writers Museum

Free admission for up to four people. Children 12 and under are always free.

Art Institute of Chicago

Free admission for one adult. 

Brookfield Zoo

Allows a family of four general admission during regular public hours. A maximum of two adults may be admitted, and one child under 18 must be present. 

Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Free admission for a family of four.

Chicago Red Stars games

Receive one free ticket and additional discounted tickets for select games. 

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Receive complimentary admission for the library card holder and up to one other adult and two children. 

Chicago Botanic Garden

Free admission for four individuals and free parking for one car.

DuPage Children’s Museum

Buy one, get one free admission. Maximum of three free admissions. 

The Field Museum

Free admission for three people. The group must include at least one child under 12. 

Museum of Science and Industry

On Monday-Wednesday, receive free admission for up to four people. On Thursday-Sunday, take $5 off the Chicago resident admission price for up to four people. 

Volo Museum

Buy one, get one free admission. Kids 4 and under are free.

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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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