Chicago is home to a host of world-class museums. Generally, that also means paying a world-class price to get in. But for one week in 2015, from October 1 through 7, 12 Chicago museums will open their doors to the public for free or discounted admission. It’s a rare opportunity for Chicago visitors to witness exploding stars at the Adler Planetarium, interact with robots at the Museum of Science and Industry or take in a new exhibit at The Art Institute, all for free or at least at a more affordable price for traveling families.

Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze Photo Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze
Photo Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

 

The week-long event is meant to celebrate the city’s museums which hold some of the richest exhibits in the world. Organizers of the event ask visitors to use this week to visit a museum they’ve not yet had the chance to check out or return to one they’ve not visited in some time.

My family and I are regular visitors to our hometown museums. But unless you’re a member, it can be a pricey proposition. This week, billed as a “celebration” of 12 museums, includes discounts at all 12, but review the options carefully. Some — the National Museum of Mexican Art and the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture — are offering free admission. Others offer just a small discount over the normal admission, or maybe just offer the deal to Illinois state residents. So read the fine print before deciding which museum deal is right for your family.

In addition to reduced or free admission, museums will be hosting special guided tours, exhibits and providing giveaways. And if you’ve been considering membership to particular museums, now might be the chance to snag them because many are offering special membership packages, too.

Foodie TravelingMom's daughter tries to outsmart a robot during a game of Tic Tac Toe. Her daughter won. (Photo by Megy Karydes.)

Foodie TravelingMom’s daughter tries to outsmart a robot during a game of Tic Tac Toe. Her daughter won. (Photo by Megy Karydes.)

My family and I recently visited the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) which never fails to delight. The kids were able to play tic tac toe with a robot and the Numbers in Nature exhibit is particularly reflective. You’ll have to check it out to see what I mean.

We’ve been to almost all of the museums in Chicago and while MSI is one of our favorites, a close second is the Field Museum.

While the Field Museum’s focus is natural history and it houses more than 27 million artifacts and specimens, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not fun and interactive. With more than 350,000 square feet of permanent exhibitions, there is a lot to cover and plenty of interactive play to be enjoyed.

If Chicago history is your thing, head to the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park. Kirsten Maxwell, Teaching TravelingMom, explains why the Chicago History Museum is fun for kids young and old.

Whether you have a “go to” museum that you enjoy visiting regularly or you want to see something new, don’t miss the opportunity to explore some of Chicago’s best museums and save a little money during Chicago Museum Week on October 1-7.