When it comes to museums in and around Naperville, there are plenty of places to go have educational fun and adventure with your kids. The problem is, they can cost you hundreds of dollars for admission – even with membership package discounts.
That’s why having a Kids Museum Passport or taking advantage of free museum days is a win-win for your family! Here’s the scoop on when and where to plan your next trip. (NOTE: Dates are subject to change.)
The good news is, some things in life ARE free! Including admission at these museums every day:
· The Chicago Cultural Center – Learn about the culture and architecture in and around Chicago.
· Cantigny Park and First Division Museum ($5 parking) – Explore the collections on display from the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division.
· Clarke House Museum – Tour the oldest house in Chicago, and experience what it was like during Civil War times.
· DePaul Art Museum – View art from the university’s collection.
· Elmhurst Historical Museum – Learn about Elmhurt’s foundings through exhibits and historic landmark tours.
· Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art – View art from Northwestern University’s collection.
· National Museum of Mexican Art – View 3,000 years of artwork inspired by the Mexicans across the U.S. and other lands.
· National Veterans Art Museum – Veteran-created art, with a focus on Vietnam and the impact of war.
· The Oriental Institute Museum – View artifacts from ancient civilizations in the Middle East.
· Smart Museum of Art – View art from the University of Chicago’s collection.
· National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture – Art celebrating the diverse Puerto Rican community in Chicago.
If you are an Illinois resident, become a Chicago Public Library cardholder and receive a Kids Museum Passport for a family of 4 to use (2 adults, 2 children). With this passport, you can receive free or discount passes for several places around the city, including (but not limited to) these exciting museums:
1. Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum – Learn all you ever wanted to know about the solar system, explore distant galaxies, and see exploding stars. Additional free admission is available to Illinois residents on the following Resident Discount Days: June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15
2. Art Institute of Chicago – From abstract art to antique Roman busts, gallery walks, performances, and family hours at the artist’s studio in the Ryan Center, the exhibits are a must-see for the whole family. Free admission for Illinois residents: Always free admission at the Ryan Center, as well as every Thursday evening, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Year-round free admission for children under 14.
3. Chicago Children’s Museum – Water play, dinosaur digs, crafts, and so much more await you at the museum. Free admission for everyone: Target Free Family Night every Thursday evening from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., and free admission for children 15 and under the first Sunday of every month.
4. Chicago History Museum – Winner of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Services, take a look at the history of Chicago, attend events, and hear stories inspired by the Museum’s collection of historical fiction. Free admission for members of: Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Illinois resident free days - July 4.
5. DuSable Museum of African American History – Celebrate African American history through paintings, photographs, mosaics, carvings, and more. Free admission for military personnel and children 5 and under. Free admission for all visitors: Every Sunday.
6. Field Museum – Explore the world of science through exhibits and hands-on activities. Free admission for Illinois residents: June 21, 22, and 23 (general admission only).
7. Museum of Contemporary Art – Collection of contemporary exhibits with artwork by artists from the modern age. Free admission for members, fire department, police, military, veterans, and children 12 and under. Free admission for Illinois residents: Every Tuesday.
8. Museum of Science and Industry – Exhibits and hands-on activities for chemistry and physics, design, energy, engineering, environmental and life science, math and manufacturing, space, technology, and transportation. Free admission for members. Free admission for Illinois residents:
June 1-3, 6-8
September 6-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30
November 3, 10
9. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Learn about Chicago’s ecosystem, tour nature, and come face-to-face with creatures from the wild. Free admission for members and children 3 and under. Free admission for Illinois residents: Every Thursday.
10. Glessner House Museum – National historic landmark designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Free admission: Every Wednesday.
11. Loyola University Museum of Art – Features a collection of art from the university. Free admission: Every Tuesday.
12. McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum – A hands-on experience with Chicago’s most famous bridge, and a view of the city. Free admission: Sundays May 10 through October 31.
13. Mitchell Museum of the American Indian – View American Indian art, history, and culture. Free admission: First Friday of every month.
Additional tips for taking your kids to a museum:
· Plan your outing in advance, if at all possible, so you can know what items are allowed/prohibited on the premises, as well as any food/drink stipulations. That way, you will know what to bring along with you.
· Go early to avoid long waits.
· Purchase advance tickets, if at all possible, for special exhibits.
· Make yourself familiar with a map of the museum, so that you can locate bathrooms, exhibits, and places to eat.
We have some historically-rich and beautiful museums in Naperville and its surrounding western suburbs of Chicago. They include DuPage Children's Museum (Naperville), Naper Settlement (Naperville), Cantigny Gardens and Museums (Wheaton), Jurica Nature Museum (Lisle), Scitech Hands On Museum (Aurora), Illinois Aviation Museum (Bolingbrook), The Museums At Lisle Station Park (Lisle), DuPage County Historical Museum (Wheaton), Aurora Regional Fire Museum (Aurora), and many more. As admission to most of these involve a fee, we will provide you with a fantastic list soon!