Free Chicago Museum Days – Spring 2015

Free Chicago Museum Days - Spring 2015 - #Free #SpringBreak


Click here to check out the updated Summer 2015 Free Chicago Museum Days

Chicago has some amazing museums, but it can be expensive to visit with the whole family. Fortunately, a lot of the Chicago area institutions offer free or discounted admission on certain days. Whether you’re looking to ponder internationally famous art work, walk among an array of plants and trees, or learn about animals or people around the world, Chicago has a museum, garden, zoo, or cultural center for you and chances are you can find a way to visit without blowing your budget.

Most free days only apply to Illinois residents with valid identification and only apply to general admission, not special exhibits or events.

Adler Planetarium – June 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, & 12

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool – Free daily

Art Institute of Chicago – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm

Brookfield Zoo – No free days in spring

Cantigny Park – Free admission daily; $5 parking ($2 parking after 4:00 pm)

Chicago Botanic Garden – Free admission daily; $25 parking on weekdays, $30 on weekends

Chicago Children’s Museum – Every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm

Chicago History Museum – March 4

Cosley Zoo – Free daily for all Wheaton Park District residents and for children 17 and under

DuSable Museum of African American History – Every Sunday

Field Museum – June 4, 5, & 8

Garfield Park Conservatory – Free daily

Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Rockford) – First Tuesday of each month (although donations are appreciated)

Lincoln Park Conservatory – Free daily

Lincoln Park Zoo – Free daily

Morton Arboretum – Discounted admission on Wednesdays

Museum of Contemporary Art – Tuesdays

Museum of Science & Industry – April 22, May 21, June 1-5 & 8

National Museum of Mexican Art – Free admission daily

Oak Park Conservatory – Free admission daily; donations are accepted ($2 per person is recommended)

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Thursdays are free, but donations are suggested

Shedd Aquarium – June 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, & 16

Swedish American Museum – Second Tuesday of every month

Chicago Public Library branches have passes to several different museums through the Kids Museum Passports that Chicago residents can check out for free. Residents of many suburbs can get free admission with the Museum Adventure Pass at their local library.

Looking for more than museums? Check out 15 Things to Do During Spring Break, Baseball Fan Clubs for Kids (FREE baseball tickets!), or Cheap Family Movies


  1. Judy Gaskill says:

    What are the free Museum Days if any for Non Residents and where


    • Hi Judy!
      The museums and attractions that are always free (like the Garfield Park Conservatory) are generally free for everyone, but unfortunately most of the free days only apply to residents of Illinois. I don’t know of any that are free to everyone, although I’ll amend my post if I hear of any.

    • If you go the museums websites it will tell you what their free days are. I believe with the free days they don’t ask if your a resident of Illinois. The general admission to get in is free any exhibits you want to see will be extra.

      • To be sure, we found out the hard way that THEY DO verify what state you’re a resident of. However, one can always take a chance. =)

      • To be sure, we found out the hard way that THEY DO verify what state you reside in.
        Although, if you know someone who’s an Illinois resident, you can go with them and let them show THEIR state ID. However, that method takes a little finesse and good planning, as well. Check the website to see if MSI ‘frowns upon’ that type of cooperate entrance.

  2. Melissa Mata says:

    This is so awesome to have specially for kids that parents don’t have a lot n still try n do things to enter act with kids when u come across good things like this

  3. Sharvon Freeman says:

    The museum are a learning tool for Childern and adults.

  4. I think that it’s HORRIBLE that you exclude NWI residents. So many of us work and spend money in your city and yet our families get no benefit. I will not spend my money in your museum’s any longer If this is how you treat your neighbors. We come and spend money on parking, food and souvenirs but I guess you don’t need our revenue. Its no wonder so many of your people are moving to our side.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for commenting. Unfortunately, I don’t have any control over museum policies, I just provide information!

      I agree that it’s disappointing that lots of free days are limited to Illinois residents. Some funding for museums comes from local and state taxes, so I think these days are a “thank you” to Chicago and Illinois residents for their tax dollars. As I understand, this isn’t unique to Illinois either; museums all over the country offer free or discounted days limited to the residents of their own state. In fact, as an Indiana resident, you likely have access to free or discounted offers at Indiana museums that Illinois residents do not.

      I do have a couple suggestions for you:

      1. Visit some of the Chicago area attractions that are free all the time. These are generally free to everyone, regardless of residency. Lincoln Park Zoo & Conservatory, Millennium Park & Lurie Garden, and the Garfield Park Conservatory are just a few examples.

      2. Contact a museum or attraction you’re interested in visiting. It’s possible that they do not have residency requirements (in particular, I’m thinking of the Chicago Children’s Museum; their free evenings are sponsored by Target and therefore may not have a restriction), or maybe they can give you suggestions on how to visit for free or at a discounted rate. At the very least, you can express your disappointment in the policy and maybe they’ll take that into consideration in the future.

      3. If you have a museum membership (or membership to any attraction), check to see if they have a reciprocal program that offers free or reduced prices at partnering museums.

      Thanks & happy adventuring 🙂

      • MSI Chicago belongs to the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)

        Here’s a pdf file of the museums that offer reciprocity with membership to MSI Chicago (or another museum in its [ASTC] roster)

        Each museum has its own admissions policy. Visit to fnd out which and how many family members receive free admission.

        fyi: When I visited the ASTC website a few months ago, it seemed as though they had a more comprehensive list of reciprocal members than the one on MSI Chicago’s site (the pdf file listed above). So, you might want to research that site, as well.

        • Thanks for the information Keith! It’s always a good idea to see if memberships offer reciprocity with other museums. The American Horticultural Society also have a reciprocity program that’s worth looking into if you have a membership to a garden or conservatory.

    • Amanda, that is ludicrous. What you actually do is leach money out of the Chicago tax base. I do however want to thank you for clearing space in our precious museums.

    • Actually people are fleeing your state too, but thanks for playing.

  5. Marie Coggins says:

    Would like the free days to be for everyone, not just Illinois little people! We miss going.

  6. Dawn Flores says:

    very interested!

  7. Lavon Pryor says:

    Please any tips about anything that’s happening in Chicago I would like to be informed thank you very much

  8. Laura Rogers says:

    I wish they would let southern Wisconsin have discount days. We’re so close to Chicago but it is expensive so we don’t go much anymore.

  9. It would be cool if you could add these dates into your calendar.

  10. I have little boys who love going to Chicago for fun days. Please keep me uodated

  11. Thank you for this info. My daughter goes to a home babysitter with none to little learning opportunity because daycare is so expensive. I am looking for ways to expose her to learning opportunities outside of the home. I will certainly take advantage of this info. Thanks.

  12. Carol T says:

    What a privilege to have such museums and shame on the ones commenting who think it’s some kind of absolute right to get to go free.

  13. Ingrid Prigge says:

    Need places for 2yr old… Very active and interested by all things!!!

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