Experience Chicago’s award-winning museums, without spending a dime. Check out our ever-growing list of Chicago free museum days in 2021 and 2022, plus some of our museums that are free all year long.

Looking for other ways to save? Check out the Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card, which offers admission to several Chicago museums and attractions for one discounted price.

Here’s a list of upcoming free Chicago museum days. Keep in mind that some museums may be operating with different hours and new ticketing procedures; contact the museum to learn more.

Art Institute of Chicago

Women view a Monet at Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago; photo by Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

The Art Institute of Chicago offers select free admission days for Illinois residents throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days for Illinois residents at the Art Institute of Chicago:

  • Weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays) Nov. 29 – Dec. 17, 2021
  • Weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays) from Jan. 3 – March 17, 2022

To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance.

The museum is always free for Chicago teens under the age of 18, all children under age 14, Link and WIC cardholders, active-duty military, and Illinois educators.

The public can enjoy the following public museum areas free of charge:

  • The Ryan Learning Center in the Modern Wing
  • The North and South Gardens (accessible from Michigan Avenue)
  • The Nichols Bridgeway connecting the museum to Millennium Park
  • The Bluhm Family Terrace on the 3rd floor of the west pavilion of the Modern Wing

Museum of Science and Industry

MSI Storm exhibit
J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Admission at the Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents on select dates throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days at the Museum of Science and Industry:

  • Nov. 3, 10, and 17, 2021
  • Dec. 8, 2021

The Museum of Science and Industry is always free for United States military active-duty personnel and veterans, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers and Illinois teachers (Pre-K through 12th grade).

Field Museum

Field Museum with guests socially distanced
Photo by Lucy Hewett

The Field Museum offers free basic admission, plus discounted passes to explore a ticketed exhibition or enjoy a 3D movie, for Illinois residents on select dates throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days at the Field Museum:

  • Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26, 2022
  • Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23, 2022

Tickets for free days are only available onsite and cannot be reserved in advance. The free tickets include all general admission exhibitions, such as Evolving PlanetThe Ancient Americas, and Inside Ancient Egypt.

Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12th grade) and active military personnel receive free basic admission year-round.

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium offers Illinois residents free access to all permanent exhibits, including special exhibits Underwater Beauty and seasonal Stingray Touch, on select dates throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days at the Shedd Aquarium:

  • Feb. 22 – Feb. 26, 2021
  • Every Thursday in August 2021
  • Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in September 2021

Advance reservations required; no tickets will be available onsite. A $3-per-order transaction fee applies to Illinois Free Day tickets reserved online. All adults must provide proof of residency in-person when redeeming tickets at the discounted rate.

Chicago History Museum

Clayton Hauck

The Chicago History Museum offers free admission on select holidays and dates throughout the year.

Upcoming free museum days at the Chicago History Museum:

  • March 4, 2021
  • Aug. 24 – 28, 2021

Admission is always free for active duty military and veterans, active duty Chicago police and firefighters, Illinois teachers, Illinois residents under age 18, and all children under 12.

DuSable Museum of African American History

DuSable Museum of African American History
DuSable Museum of African American History; photo by Abel Arciniega @tequilagraphics

The DuSable Museum of African American History is offers free admission for all every Wednesday.

Online booking in advance is currently required for all visitors. Admission is always free for military and first responders.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Duro Olowu exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art
Installation view, Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, MCA Chicago Feb 29-May 10, 2020 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

The Museum of Contemporary Art is always free for visitors under age 18, visitors with disabilities and their caregivers receive free admission, members of the military and police and fire departments and veterans, and Illinois elementary and high school teachers.

  • Illinois residents receive free admission every Tuesday

To encourage more people to visit and visit often, the MCA has a pay-what-you-can policy — no one will be turned away. They also offer suggested admission of $3 each for up to six individuals when visitors present their LINK (EBT) Card as part of the Museums for All program.

Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium exterior

The Adler Planetarium is not currently offering any upcoming free admission days, please check back.

Admission is always free for Illinois teachers (pre-K through 12), active duty military and veterans, and active police and firefighters.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Resistance Gallery at the Illinois Holocaust Museum
Photo by Kathleen Hinkel

The Illinois Holocaust Museum is offering free admission on:

  • June 1 — 30, 2021, all kids and students receive free entry to the museum

Reserve your free tickets in advance.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Admission is free year-round at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier

Navy Pier Entrance in the Fall

The Chicago Children’s Museum offers veterans and active military free admission every day with the presentation of valid military status identification. They also offer families that qualify for state food assistance and are in possession of an EBT card or WIC card free admission for up to 6 people.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Clayton Hauck

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum:

  • No upcoming free admission days

Loyola University Museum of Art

Admission is free year-round at the Loyola University Museum of Art.

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum:

  • No upcoming free admission days

Swedish American Museum

Swedish American Museum Exterior

Free admission every second Tuesday of the month year-round at the Swedish American Museum. Children aged 1 year or younger are admitted free.

Wrightwood 659

There are currently no upcoming free admission days at Wrightwood 659.

National Veterans Art Museum

The National Veterans Art Museum is always free. Donations are accepted.

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center Exterior

Admission is free year-round at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Admission is free year-round at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. All visitors must reserve a free timed ticket.


Dates are subject to change and may not include fees to view special exhibits. Visit individual museum websites for admission details, as well as policies for specific community members such as military personnel and local school groups.