It’s Freezing, but Museums are Free!

It’s Freezing, but Museums are Free!

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This week marked the coldest few days in Chicago this winter. Folks, it was 1 degree—no need for plural. That’s really frosty. I broke out the wool—wool scarf, wool gloves, and wool lined wool jacket. Somehow my nose and toes were still frozen. But, during all of this frost, there was one perk: free museum visits! During the cold winter months, museums in Chicago offer free admission to Chicago residents. Say what? That’s right, free admission. Throughout the school year ,museums will offer free admission after a specific time on a specific day, but that’s just too many rules for me when I’m busy. While on winter break and sick of being cooped up in my apartment, I decided to beat the freeze, so I headed on down to The Art Institute on a lovely (but frosty) Wednesday afternoon.

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The Art Institute isn’t the only museum that is offering free admission. The Shedd Aquarium and The Field Museum have a ton of free days listed (mostly Tuesdays) on their website, but I also found these handy websites for figuring out which museums are offering free admission and on what day:

Summer has a golden reputation for “Things to Do”—concerts at Millennium Park, Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, Wicker Park Fest (the festival list goes on and on and on), picnics in the park, several beaches, etc, etc. The weather is lovely, the sun is shining, and everyone is frolicking around the city having forgotten about the day when it was 1 degree. However, there is plenty to do during the winter too: museums, movies, ice skating in Millennium Park, and let’s be honest, a bar on every block to warm up should you catch a chill. When the weather is disgusting, most people aren’t crowding museums. There are no long lines. The Art Institute was peaceful, and after a leisurely stroll through the warmth of the museum, amidst Roman sculptures and Georgia O’Keefe’s bright colors, I forgot about the cold.

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If you have the time before school starts on a cold winter day between semesters, hop on the train and head down to the nearest museum (check online to make sure it’s a free day first). You won’t regret it.