Explore Chicagoland museums for free on Museum Day Live!

Chicago parents, you are cordially invited to Museum Day Live! hosted by Smithsonian Magazine. This nationwide invitation allows you to explore the country’s finest museums and obtain a dose of learning, adventure and inspiration … for free!

This year’s participating museums:

Mayslake Peabody Estate

1717 W. 31st Street

Oak Brook, IL 60523

Smart Museum of Art

The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue

Chicago, IL 60637

The Museums at Lisle Station Park

921 School Street

Lisle, IL 60532

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 E. Chicago

Chicago, IL 60611

Glen Carbon Heritage Museum

124 School St.

Glen Carbon, IL 62034

Glessner House Museum

1800 S. Prairie Ave.

Chicago, IL 60616

SciTech Hands on Museum

18 W. Benton St.

Aurora, IL 60506

International Museum of Surgical Science

On Saturday, March 12, present a Museum Day Live! ticket at one of 19 participating museums in Illinois and enjoy free general admission for two guests.

Good to know: Only two tickets are allowed per household. The tickets are only for general admission and do not include any fees for special exhibits or parking. You must register online to request a ticket to one participating venue.

Here are some suggestions and highlights to help you decide which institutions to visit.

DuPage County Historical Museum

Located in Wheaton, this museum is a great destination for both children and children at heart.

One of their current exhibitions, “Childhood Memories,” part of the program, Fun Unplugged, showcases children’s play and learning devices in a time without electronics, flashing lights and sounds. Wooden blocks, kites, Slinkies, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and Silly Putty are some of the featured toys. Through craft workshops, artifacts and interactive stations, guests will travel back in time and see how childhood and its activities have changed over the years,

SciTech Hands on Museum

For science fanatics and little engineers, this museum in Aurora is the place to be. Through its 150 plus interactive exhibits based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), it seeks to ignite everyone’s imagination and love for learning. Families should visit the KidSpace area, an interactive area that will have your kid building his mind away with the huge foam blocks. Children are also able to take a closer look at the Earth, planets, the moon and constellations and create lightning, all while learning cool facts. Before you leave, don’t forget to jump inside the tornado simulator and have the windiest experience of a lifetime.

International Museum of Surgical Science

Do you have a child that dreams of becoming a doctor? Look no further than this Chicago museum. RX for Success, an exhibition aimed at encouraging children as young as 8 to consider careers in healthcare is a highlight. Children will get to see 3D-printed heart models, amputations, historical illustrations and learn information about careers in different fields such as medical laboratory science, biomedical engineering, radiology and medical illustration. Hands-on activities will allow them to develop their own blood and play “decode the disease games.” A visit to this museum will truly be unforgettable.

Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden

For budding naturalists, this Rockford staple will be a delight. The Nancy Olson Children’s Garden is a must-see for families. On your way there, you will discover a beautiful bridge over a Koi pond. This area of the arboretum, complete with a hedge maze, alphabet-labeled plants and activities in the pavilion, will encourage children to explore nature to their heart’s content. As you continue to stroll around through the other gardens like the Prehistoric or Fountain Gardens, make sure to spot the whimsical creatures that guard the grounds. There’s Cow-li-flower, Klehmentine and Flor Fauna, sculptures with nature-inspired designs. Children will love this hide-and-seek adventure!

The Museums at Lisle Station Park

This museum campus offers a different kind of fun for the entire family. The grounds tell the story of 19th century Northern Illinois. Through its historic buildings, artifacts and events, families discover what life was like back in those days. The blacksmith shop is a stop not to miss. While you’re there, why not participate in a blacksmith class? Train lovers will love the CB&Q Waycar. On the Saturday of Museum Day Live!, families can enjoy “Come find the Pot of Gold,” a storytelling activity about leprechauns and fun St. Patrick’s games.

Cosley Zoo

You can’t cross out the bucket list of zoos in Illinois until you’ve visited this one in Wheaton. Home to more than 200 animals, children are sure to spot their favorite creature or discover one they have never seen before. Your family can enjoy an Eco-Exploration Backpack Tour, which includes packs that are filled with scent jars, binoculars and duck identification cards that turn your experience at Cosley into a hands-on self-guided exploration. Once you visit all the highlights of the tour, you may receive an official Eco-Explorer button.

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