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Museum of Science and Industry Tickets | MSI Free Days

Updated: May 10, 2024
 By Mel

Some guests on our Chicago tours ask whether or not it's worth visiting the Museum of Science & Industry (MSI) and our answer is “Yes!”

We do think it deserves your time if you are interested in this topic. It is an excellent museum and great for people of all ages.

This post covers tickets, deals, and free days for the Museum of Science & Industry and what you can expect to see there. Plus we list hours and provide directions there.

For additional feedback on the MSI, we share with you the opinions of some of the 20,000 members of our Chicago Travel Tips Facebook Group made up of locals and travelers.

Now let's dig in!


TICKET PRICES

Before we go over how you can save money on tickets to the Museum of Science and Industry, it's important to understand how much admission usually costs.

Don't forget to look at the Ways to Save on Tickets section below for great deals! 


General Admission

GA Tickets include entry to the museum’s permanent exhibits as well as temporary exhibits.


Additional Experiences

In addition to general admission, there are separate tickets you may purchase for additional attractions and activities in the Museum of Science and Industry.

Giant Dome Theater

  • Adults: $12
  • Children (ages 3-11): $9
  • Members of all ages: Free

Coal Mine Tour

  • Adults: $12
  • Children (ages 3-11): $9
  • Members of all ages: Free

 U-505 On-board Tour

  • Adults: $18
  • Children (ages 3-11): $14
  • US military active and veterans $14
  • Members: Adult $17 | Child $13

007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond

  • Adults: $18
  • Children (ages 3-11): $14
  • Members all ages: $9

FREE DAYS AT THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY

One of the best ways to save money on tickets is simply by taking advantage of their free days.

Illinois residents are welcome to visit without paying a dime on certain days of the year.

The Museum of Science and Industry changes the dates for its free days.

Here is the schedule for the first few months of 2024:

  • January 22-24, 28-31
  • February 5-8, 11-15, 20-22, 26-29
  • April 21

Check this schedule of Illinois Free Days to see when more dates are announced.

Giant Dome Theater films and certain additional experiences require separate admission.

If you're interested in other opportunities to visit for free or save money on tickets, read on!


14 WAYS TO SAVE ON TICKETS

There are a few ways to save on admission to the Museum of Science and Industry including getting up to half off with an attraction pass!


1. Use a Tourist Attraction Pass

Admission to the Museum of Science and Industry is currently included with the following three Chicago tourist passes, which allows you to save money on tickets to multiple popular attractions.

Here are a few of the other activities and locations you can visit using a tourist pass:

Depending on how you use a tourist pass and which one you choose, you could save 50% on everything included.

For more details, please check our post covering Chicago tourist attraction passes.


2. Active Military and Veteran Offers

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, active Military personnel and their families (up to 5 people) get free admission with valid ID.

Even if you don't plan on visiting during that time, it should be noted that all active military personnel and veterans get free admission for themselves when they present a valid ID any day of the year.

The only difference is that your family can join for free between Memorial Day and Labor Day.


3. Free Entry for Police/Firefighters

All Chicago firefighters and police officers get free admission for themselves when they present a valid ID at the ticket office.


4. Free Entry for Teachers

All Illinois teachers (Pre-K through 12th grade) are eligible for free entry to the museum every day of the year with a valid ID.


5. Chicago Resident Offer

Chicago residents get $5 off adult tickets and $3 off child tickets with proof of address.

Don't forget the free days for Illinois residents each year as well!


6. Groupon and Living Social

Make sure to check websites Groupon or LivingSocial to find good deals on ticket prices.

In addition to the initial savings, periodically they run special sales that can save you even more money!


7. Use the Museums for All Program

If you have an EBT or WIC card, you might be eligible for free admission for up to 2 adults and 6 children through the Museums for All Program.


10. Free for ASTC Members

If you're a member of an Association of Science and Technology Center at least 90 miles from MSI, you can get free admission for up to 2 adults and 4 children.


11. Become a Member of the Museum

The Museum of Science and Industry offers membership for $95 a year which includes free entry all year, free parking, free passes to the Giant Dome Theater, reduced-rate tickets for other guests joining you, and more.

Depending on how many times you plan to visit and what you plan to do, this could save you a lot of money over time.

Individual memberships are valid for free entry year-round for one adult and one guest.


12. Children's Ticket Offer

Tickets for children between the ages of 3-11 are $9 less than adult tickets, so you'll save money no matter what if you're visiting with your kids!


13. Group Rates

If you purchase tickets for groups of 15 or more at least 4 weeks in advance, you will be eligible for a reduced rate.


14. Student Offers

There are no deals specifically for students other than the above-mentioned deals that students can take advantage of.


PLAN YOUR VISIT

Where is the Museum of Science and Industry?

The museum is located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637 (map).


CTA:

  • Bus #2- 57th Street and Stony Island stop
  • Bus #6- 57th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard stop
  • Bus #10- Museum of Science and Industry stop

Take the Red Line or Blue Line to Jackson stop, then transfer any of the buses above (#2,#6,#10) at the NW corner of State and Van Buren.


The L:

From “the Loop” it’s a 25-minute train ride southwards to the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Take the train to the 55th/56th/57th Street station, and walk 2 blocks east to reach the museum.

Pro tip: Even the Museum admits it can be tricky to get to this attraction via transit if you are unfamiliar with the city.

We recommend looking at our article on getting around Chicago via public transit if you are new to Chicago!


Hours of Operation

  • Daily from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm
  • Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Best Times to Visit

Since the Museum of Science and Industry is popular with families, the best times to visit are weekday mornings when school is in session.

Weekend crowds aren’t unbearable, but if you want to enjoy the museum with fewer people, the first two hours after opening are the best times to visit.


How long should you stay?

According to Google and reviews, most visitors stay up to 4 hours.


Is the building accessible?

Yes. The parking lot has van-accessible parking spaces. The building has push-button automated doors in the entrance and elevators and ramps throughout.


WHAT TO EXPECT

The Museum of Science and Industry was originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 by Charles B. Atwood of D.H. Burnham and Company.

It is the only structure from the World’s Fair that was built to last while the remainder of the White City fell to ruins.

The MSI has several permanent exhibits as well as temporary ones. Here are the permanent exhibits.


The U-505 Submarine  

At this exhibit you can step inside the U-505—a German submarine that terrorized the ocean during World War I and World War II.  

The United States caught and captured the sub on June 4th, 1944 and now it is a national memorial to the 55,000 American sailors who gave their lives on the high seas in WWI and WWII. 


The Chick Hatchery

The entire exhibit is about the complex world of genetics but everyone is crowded around the baby chicks.  

Watch as the baby chicks emerge from their shells and peck their way into the world.


The Coal Mine 

Every resident in Chicago has visited this exhibit at least once as a student on a field trip- it’s the Coal Mine!  

A coal miner takes you below the surface to experience hands-on what it would be like to be a coal miner.


Brick By Brick 

This exhibit is an impressive use of Lego bricks to create massive reproductions of world-famous structures.

Kids will love to see the 60-foot Golden Gate Bridge and the International Space Station made entirely of Legos. 


Farm Tech 

This exhibit is included in your entry fee and connects you to the farm life of America.

The farmers of America have come a long way. Learn how your food gets to your plate. A visitor’s favorite is the milking competition.


TIPS FROM LOCALS AND TRAVELERS

To give you a sense of what other people think of the museum, we looked at comments on our Chicago Travel Tips Facebook group.

We couldn't find a negative comment. Overwhelmingly, group members who commented on the MSI had rave reviews.

Take a look at what some of them had to say.

If you are traveling with your family or with kids of all ages. it might be a perfect activity for you.

If you are traveling with the family, you might find our post Things to Do in Chicago with Kids helpful.

Many people loved both MSI and the Field Museum but pointed out which they preferred and why.

Find out about Chicago Field Museum Tickets & Deals.

Here’s what you and the rest of your group can look forward to.

Need a suggestion for what to do near the museum?


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About The Author

Mel

Mel loves to be a tourist in her own city. With a background in performing arts, tourism, and photography, giving tours and being a story-teller comes naturally to her. She loves traveling, food, and theatre. Mel splits her time between Chicago and Los Angeles (#theatrelife) and leads tours and manages both cities!
Updated: May 10th, 2024
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