January means free days for Illinois residents at Chicago museums

Chicago History Museum

Learn about your city at the Chicago History Museum, one of many offering free days to Illinois residents.


School is back in session, but learning isn’t limited to the classroom. Chicago museums are offering free or discounted admission for Illinois residents this month.

“It’s an important opportunity for Illinois citizens,” said Rebecca Schejbal, administrative director of Museums in the Park. “I think it’s essential for students to observe through artifacts and have access to the resources that our museums offer to learn about the world and universe.”

Admission requires a valid ID with an Illinois address.


Adler Planetarium 

Field Museum

Field Museum free days are Jan. 14 and 15.

Go to space and beyond with exhibits that offer a scientific take on outer space. The “Worlds of Chesley Bonestell” exhibit, open through April 26, showcases an artistic view of the galaxy.

Hours: Monday–Friday  9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday  9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive


Field Museum

Free dates: Jan. 14 and 15

Along with permanent exhibits on topics such as Egyptian artifacts and animal taxidermy, the Field Museum’s “Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti” ditches Hollywood stereotypes of the spiritual force by focusing into its significance in the daily life of Haiti. Exhibit open until April 26. Enjoy free basic admission on these dates; upgrade to a Discovery Pass for $11 or an All-Access Pass for $18.

Hours: Daily  9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Address: 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive


Museum of Science and Industry

Free dates: Jan. 14–16, 19–23, 26–30

Why does a tornado spin or lighting strike? Discover the answers to these questions and more through live science in the “Science Storms” exhibit. Just watch out for that life-size twister. Exhibit is permanent.

Hours: Daily  9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive


Shedd Aquarium

Free dates: Jan. 18–20, 23–27

The Shedd is like no other — its exhibits are alive and you can even touch some of its sea creatures. Perhaps the most eye-catching exhibit is the “Caribbean Reef,” which is the first thing visitors see upon entering. It’s colorful and bright, making it great for a cold, gloomy day.

Hours: Monday–Friday  9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday  9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Address: 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive


Chicago History Museum

Free dates: Jan. 14–15, 19–23, 26–30

Did you know before Michigan Avenue became the Magnificent Mile, it was known as Pine Street? Find out more interesting facts about this landmark district in “Chicago Styled.” Exhibit open through Aug. 16. Closed Jan. 16.

Hours: Monday–Saturday  9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Sunday 12–5 p.m.
Address: 1601 N. Clark St.

Museum of Science and Industry

Why does a tornado spin or lighting strike? Find out at the Museum of Science and Industry.


Art Institute Chicago

Free dates: weekdays through Feb. 10

It’s fun to look at art, but to be a part of it is even better. Audience participation is demanded in “Jesús Rafael Soto: Pénétrable Chicago.” The featured abstract artist is known for his pénétrables — a type of environmental structure. There are thousands of transparent filaments hanging from the ceiling in this installation and visitors can walk through it for a unique experience with art. Exhibit open through March 8.

Hours: Daily  10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.;
Thursday 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Address: 111 S. Michigan Ave.


Museum of Contemporary Art

Free dates: Tuesdays year-round

The question of identity is explored in “Body Doubles,” which looks at the relationship between the body and identity. The exhibition explores the notions that two or more bodies can create a single identity, and that multiple identities can exist within one body. Exhibit open until April 19.  Closed on Mondays.

Hours: Tuesday 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Wednesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Address: 220 E. Chicago Ave.

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