Free Museum Day – Sat, Sept 21

It’s official: Smithsonian’s TOTALLY FREE “Museum Day” is back on September 21, 2019 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 2019 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 2019 event will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2019.  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 13 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 21, 2019, emulating the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities. Museum Day 2019 is poised to be the largest to date, outdoing last year’s record-breaking event. In 2018, 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 museum day sept 21, 2019


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
  • Charnley-Persky House Museum
  • Chicago History Museum
  • DuSable Museum of African American History Smithsonian Affiliate Museums
  • Glessner House Museum
  • International Museum of Surgical Science
  • Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
  • Leather Archives Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
  • National Hellenic Museum
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
  • Pullman Porter Museum
  • Smart Museum of Art Free everyday
  • Swedish American Museum
  • The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The theme of this year’s Museum Day is “Year of Music,” and it aims to spotlight the music-related resources and content across different disciplines including art, history, culture, science and education.  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.



When is Museum Day?
Saturday, September 21, 2019

How do I find out if a museum in my area is participating?
To locate participating museums near you, click “Get A Ticket.” Filter your search by museum location, museum name and/or museum type.

How do I get free admission?
Tickets will be available to download beginning at midnight on Thursday, August 15, 2019. Select “Get A Ticket” from the top navigation bar. Filter your search and click “Get a Ticket” next to the museum you wish to attend. You will be asked to enter your name, email address and confirm the museum you wish to attend before downloading your ticket. You’ll be able to download your ticket immediately and we’ll email you a copy. Check your inbox for an email from with a link to your ticket.

Does everyone get free admission?
To get free admission, guests must present an official Museum Day ticket. This ticket provides general admission for ticket holder plus one guest (not valid for special exhibits, parking, IMAX film screening or any other offer). Ticket is only valid on Museum Day, September 21, 2019. If a museum reaches capacity, the museum has the right to limit guests until space becomes available.

Can I bring my whole family to Museum Day?
Each ticket provides general admission for ticket holder plus one guest. If you go to Museum Day with more than one guest, other guests will have to pay full admission.

I have a child. Does my child count as one of the free tickets?
Please call the museum if you have specific questions related to ages and admission. Generally, if admission to the museum is free for children, the museum will not count your child as your Museum Day guest. If the museum generally charges admission for children, then your child will count as one of your Museum Day guests. Each ticket provides general admission for ticket holder plus one guest

Can I download a ticket for more than one museum?
You may download one (1) ticket per email address. Choose wisely! There are no takebacks, once you select a museum, you will not be able to change your selection.

Do I need to print my Museum Day ticket?
Some museums require a printed ticket, others will allow you to show your ticket via a smartphone or tablet. Not sure? Check your ticket. Museums that require a printed ticket include an asterisk under the museum address stating, “*Printed ticket required.”

I don’t have a printer. How do I get my ticket?
Not all museums require printed tickets. Your ticket and the museum profile will let you know if the museum you wish to attend requires a printed ticket. Local libraries and community centers are great places to print materials if you don’t own your own printer and the museum you are attending requires a printed ticket. Ask your librarian for assistance if you need help!

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