Are museums in Chicago free?

By Product Expert | Posted in Community, FAQ, Tips & Tricks on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 7:56 pm
Aerial view of area of Chicago bordering Lake Michigan, with several museums in view.

Best Free Art Museums in Chicago

Going to a museum can be an enjoyable, educational and even enlightening experience. Oftentimes admission to a museum is provided for free by a city or organization for the general benefit of the populace or to boost tourism. How about in Chicago? Are museums in Chicago free?

Not all museums in Chicago are free, but some are. If you go to the best-known spots, like the Art Institute of Chicago, you’re likely going to pay. However, there are some excellent lesser-known museums to check out for free in Chicago, and we’ve compiled a few here!


Note: Most museums in Chicago do have select free days, especially for Chicago residents. These differ for each museum, but be sure to look into this option to see some of the bigger ones for free. For example, admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free for Chicago residents every Thursday evening from 5 to 8 pm.

Note 2: Make sure you look up the hours before going! You don’t want to plan a museum day only to find out that your destination is closed.


Get more Chicago-area information on our blog!


Interior of a Chicago museum with dinosaurs and many visitors.DePaul Art Museum

Where? 935 West Fullerton Avenue

The DePaul Art Museum is the place to go to check out international modern and contemporary art. They have four to six temporary exhibitions on display each year.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Where? 600 S Michigan Avenue

The Museum of Contemporary Photography takes a good deal of pride in its permanent collection, and for good reason. The museum is loaded with over 14,000 artworks to gaze upon across three floors. In addition to works by well-known photographers, the museum holds workshops and other programs for students, educators, and the community, making it a hub of mind-expanding goodness in the neighborhood.

And at Christmas, make sure to check out the Museum of Science and Industry!

National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture

Where? 3015 West Division Street

The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture is the only national museum focused on this subject. Three galleries are available to be enjoyed within a building that dates from 1895. The neighborhood itself (Humbolt Park) is rich in Puerto Rican community and culture.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Where? 1852 West 19th Street

With over 10,000 objects, the National Museum of Mexican Art is one of the largest collections of artworks from the region. It originally opened in 1987 and has been free to enjoy from the very beginning. We particularly appreciate its intimate vibes, conveyed through the low ceilings and richly colored walls.

And afterwards, round out the day with a trip to a great Mexican restaurant!

National Veterans Art Museum

Where? 4041 North Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Floor

The National Veterans Art Museum holds more than 2,500 works of art made by veterans from all combats. The goal of the collection is to convey a greater understanding of the impact of war. The combat-inspired works include paintings, photography, sculpture, poetry and music.

Smart Museum of Art

Where? 5550 S Greenwood Avenue

The Smart Museum of Art bills themselves as a “pioneering model of what a 21st-century academic art museum can be. Situated in a beautiful campus setting, the Smart Museum of Art is constantly evolving, with a space that continuously transforms through installations that are all about engaging with visitors.

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