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Chicago's free museum days this August: where and when Illinois residents are eligible

From the Art Institute to the Shedd Aquarium's return of "Night Dives", Illinois residents have the chance to experience Chicago's major museums - for free.

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Most of Chicago's major museums offer discounted - and even free - days for Illinois residents, and there are plenty of options to choose from in the final days of summer.

Here are the museums offering to visitors in coming weeks.

Adler Planetarium

Illinois residents have the chance to experience the Adler Planetarium from 4 – 10 p.m. every Wednesday evening with proof of residency. Residents are still required to purchase tickets online and in advance, though using a ZIP code will discount the price down to free entry.

The Adler Planetarium also participates in "Museums For All," an initiative designed to make museums more accessible to families nationwide by removing financial barriers. Any family that qualifies for state food assistance and possesses an EBT (Link) card or WIC ID is eligible to participate. More details on Museums For All can be found here.

Additionally, Bank of America card holders receive complimentary Museum Entry the first weekend of every month by visiting accessible entrances with their Bank of America card and matching photo ID.

Art Institute

Illinois residents can score free admission every Thursday evening in August from 5 – 8 p.m. with proof of residency. Reserving tickets online also gives museum goers the opportunity to verify their resident status with the ZIP code associated with their provided billing address.

Additionally, all children under the age of 14 are always eligible for free tickets online as well as on-site at admission counters. Chicago teens under the age of 18 are also eligible for free admission.

Active-Duty Military personal, LINK and WIC Cardholders, and Illinois Educators are all eligible for complimentary tickets to the Art Institute with corresponding qualifying IDs. More information on free admission tickets can be found here.  

Field Museum

Illinois residents can spend a day at the Field Museum anytime from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Aug. 29. Tickets are only available to Illinois residents on-site and cannot be reserved. Illinois residents can ask a Visitor Services staff member for the special offer with their proof of Illinois residence.

"Museums For All" discounts and days also apply to a wider range of groups. More information can be found on the Field Museum website.

Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is offering two free days this month for Illinois residents to enjoy the museum’s exhibits. From 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 28-29, Illinois residents are eligible for free entry when purchasing their tickets online and entering either their address on the form or their Illinois ZIP code in the promo box. A full schedule of free days at the museum for 2023 can be found here.

The Museum of Science and Industry also offers free entry to individuals and families regardless of state residency if they present an EBT or WIC card along with a photo ID. More information on the Museum of Science and Industry’s "Museums For All" discounts can be found on their website.

United States military active-duty personnel and veterans, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers and Illinois teachers can also receive free museum entry by completing this online request form or showing a valid occupational I.D. when purchasing tickets onsite.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is extending its free Night Dives opportunity into August for Illinois residents. Night Dives takes place from 5 – 9 p.m. with the last entry of the night at 7 p.m.

The event aims to provide times to attend the aquarium for those who cannot make it during traditional business hours. Illinois residents can catch the chance for free admission on Aug. 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 29 and 21. Tickets must be purchased in advance and do sell out.

Additionally, the Shedd Aquarium is a "Museums For All" partner and offers free and discounted admission to those receiving food assistance. This offer is available to all families receiving this benefit in any U.S. state and can be redeemed by displaying their EBT card. More information on eligibility can be found here.

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