Chicago Summer Fun: Free Days at Top Museums

Bring the whole family to your favorite Chicago attractions for free on select days this summer

Do you like visiting museums? Do you like visiting museums for FREE? We’ve compiled our list of special days when we know Chicago museums are offering free admission this summer, June through August 2022.

Tip: Don’t be disappointed by the relatively few options for free museum days during the summer. Plan ahead for next winter – January and February typically offer the most free day opportunities for Chicago museums.

Need to stretch your summer entertainment budget? Check out our 50+ ideas for summer fun on a budget.

Check all COVID-related protocols before your visit, including whether masks are required or recommended, whether timed entry reservations are required, whether tickets are sold online only or also at the door, whether changing rooms are operating or whether the dealerships are open or closed.

The days listed below are mostly free for Illinois residents. This means you must provide proof of valid Illinois residency; a driver’s license or identity card is usually sufficient.

We’ve also included the average free day savings for a family of four (two adults, two children) so you can see how good they are for your family budget. For many museums, the child price applies to children aged 3 to 11, but sometimes it is 13 and under. Always look at the fine print. (Prices are subject to change without notice.)

Many of these free days occur on certain dates or days of the week. Remember that you might have the option to go to a museum any day of the week and get a significant discount if you are a museum member. Always ask about reciprocal agreements, such as the National Museum Passport program.

Our article is about general admission. However, many museums also offer discounts or freebies to veterans, as well as teachers or first responders. Some are part of the Museums for All program, for those with valid EBT or WIC cards; some offer $3 admission for up to six family members. Check the websites accordingly for more information.

And finally, another option to save money when visiting Chicago: avoid parking fees and take the train.

Chicago Summer 2022 Free Museum Days

ADLER PLANETARIUM, Chicago
Free days: Wednesdays
Admission to the museum is free for Illinois residents every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (the new Wednesday hours). Entrance to the museum gives access to all exhibits and experiences (excluding Atwood Sphere experience and celestial spectacles); admission to all sky shows can be purchased at a discounted rate at the cash desk. All tickets must be reserved online and in advance. Free days: $54

CHICAGO ART INSTITUTE
No free days for Illinois residents currently showing
Illinois residents under 14 are always free with an adult. To receive free admission tickets, Illinois residents must reserve them online in advance. Resident status will be verified using the postal code associated with the billing address provided.

DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY, Chicago
Free days: Wednesdays

Advance online booking is mandatory for all visitors. Free days: $39

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: June 19, July 4, August 23-26, August 30-31
Illinois residents 18 and under are always free. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance online. Discounts can only be applied to tickets purchased in person. Free Day Savings: $38

FIELD MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: June 20

For Illinois residents. Must show proof of residency; you can only receive free entry in person. Free basic admission on Illinois Free Days is included; discounts are available for upgrades, so the free day can be a great time to do the upgraded things you’ve always wanted to do. Check the website to plan your trip. Free savings days: $86

ILLINOIS HOLOCAUST MUSEUM AND EDUCATION CENTER, Skokie
Free days: last Friday of each month in 2022; all children are free in june

Admission includes access to all current special exhibitions, some of which have timed entries. One of his current exhibitions, Make a difference! is a highly interactive space where hands-on activities for children ages 8-12 promote leadership skills, empathy, self-esteem and positive decision-making. Free day savings: $48

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, Chicago
Free days: Tuesdays

Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays, year-round. Must have proof of residency. Children 18 and under are free every day. Admission is just suggested; the museum does not refuse anyone. More info here. Free days: $30

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, Chicago
Free days: June 1, 14
Free admission for Illinois residents with valid proof of residency. Limited to six children (under 18) admitted per accompanying adult. Movies from the Giant Dome Theater, the U-505 the tour and some special experiences/exhibits are not included in museum admission and require separate entry. Check the website to plan your trip. Free days: $70

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
For Illinois residents. A donation of $10/family is suggested during these “suggested donation days”, but is not obligatory. Free days: $30

SHEDD AQUARIUM, Chicago
No free days for Illinois residents currently showing
Select days of the year, Illinois residents with valid ID (present ID when redeeming ticket) receive free general admission to the aquarium. Free days for Illinois residents include all habitats, animal presentations and exhibits, including Underwater beauty, the latest special exhibition and seasonal Stingray Touch. 4-D Experience is a $4.95 upgrade (subject to availability). Tickets must be reserved online before your visit.

SWEDISH AMERICAN MUSEUM, Chicago
Free days: second Tuesday of each month
Located in Andersonville, one of the most concentrated neighborhoods of Swedish heritage in the United States, with Swedish roots dating back to the 19th century. What families are most interested in is the Brunk Children’s Immigration Museum (unfortunately closed at the time of this writing). Free days: $15

ALWAYS FREE

DOES NOT CURRENTLY OFFER FREE DAYS

Have you had a great trip to the Chicago museum with your kids recently? Send us an e-mail and tell us everything!

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Christy J. Olson