Free Museum Day in the Chicago Area – Sept 22

It’s official: Smithsonian’s TOTALLY FREE “Museum Day” is back on September 22, and FREE tickets for more than 20 Chicago area museums are now available to reserve. (All tickets must be booked in advance.)  So be sure to check out heck out the 2018 Museum Day Live!, a Chicago and nationwide annual free museum event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which more than 1, 250 participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket…for free. This year the 2018 event will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2018.  Tickets are good for FREE admission to Chicago museums for 2 people. Limit one ticket per household. To celebrate Smithsonian Day Live, more than 1,250 museums from Maine to Hawaii are adopting the Smithsonian Institute’s free admission policy for 24 hours. Started 12 years ago by Smithsonian magazine, the annual event on Saturday, September 22, 2018 offers free admission to a museum-goer, plus one guest.

In Chicago, why not make plans now to enjoy free admission at many museums in Chicago  on Museum Day, Saturday, September 22, 2018, emulating the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities. Museum Day 2018 is poised to be the largest to date, outdoing last year’s record-breaking event. In 2017, museum goers downloaded 270,000+ tickets resulting in more than 600,000 museum-goers visiting over 1,200 venues in Chicago, all 50 states, and Washington, D.C.


free museums day sept 22


Here’s how it works: Head to the Museum Day site, and go to the museum finder to filter Chicago area museums by state, category, and city; you can also search directly if you have a specific venue in mind. Once you’ve selected your Chicago area museum, all you have to do is fill out your name and email, and you’ll get the ticket sent to your inbox. It gives you and one guest free admission, which makes for an easy date or family outing. However, keep in mind that the ticket is only good for one participating museum, and you get one ticket per email address, which can’t be changed after you book—in other words, you can’t make a road trip out of it and hit as many free museums as possible (unless you have dozens of email addresses, but hey, the honor system’s in place here).


Some of the Chicago Area Museums participating include:


  •    Aurora Regional Fire Museum
  •    SciTech Hands on Museum


  •    Barrington History Museum


  • Adler Planetarium Smithsonian Affiliate Museums
  • American Writers Museum
  • DuSable Museum of African American History Smithsonian Affiliate Museums
  • Glessner House Museum
  • Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
  • National Hellenic Museum
  • Smart Museum of Art Free everyday
  • Swedish Museum
  • The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Elmhurst, IL

  • Lizadro Museum of Lapidary Art


  • Galena & U.S. Grant Museum


  • Geneva History Museum


  • Stacy’s Tavern Museum
  • Willowbrook Wildlife Center


  • National Museum of the American Sailor


  • Mayslake Peabody Estate

This year’s “Museum Day” is themed around “Women Making History,” which, according to the press release, focuses on “honoring women in society who are trailblazers in the arts, sciences, innovation and culture, and emboldening others to be pioneers.” Some of the women-centric destinations on the list include the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C., and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee. Other participating venues include the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York; D.C.’s Newseum and the National Museum of American History; and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. If none of the above interests you, don’t worry—you still have more than 1,200 other options, like Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the American Writer’s Museum in Chicago.  Tickets are available here.

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