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What to See During Chicago Museum Week

All the free days—and how to use them—of the first-ever ode to Chicago museums.

Sue at the Field Museum   Photo: Phil Velasquez/ Chicago Tribune

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Chicago Museum Week, an inaugural stint of free days, discounts, and educational programming for Illinois residents by Museums in the Park (the coalition of 11 museums on Chicago parkland). Some highlights, such as tomorrow’s free evening at the Art Institute, coincide with regular weekly free days; others, like gratis admission at Adler Planetarium, come literally one month a year. Below is a list of highlights—neither comprehensive nor qualitatively superior—for those who can’t make all of the events. May your brain ache into November.

Thursday, October 1

Free Admission: The Art Institute (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: Get an orientation tour of the Art Institute free with museum admission (which, again, is also free after 5 p.m.)

Friday, October 2

Free Admission: Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: Meet the Field Museum’s “Discovery Squad” between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a kid-catered look behind the scenes of the museum’s collection.

Saturday, October 3

Free Admission: Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: See Adler’s exclusive Museum Week show The Pluto Encounter, which looks at the formerly mysterious former planet for the cost of a basic pass ($19.95–$24.95)

Sunday, October 4

Free Admission: DuSable Museum, the Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: Go to the last day of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Fall Fest, which begins October 2 and features a corn maze, rides, a hay mountain, and various brain fodder ($3 a ride, $27 for 10 rides, $51 for 20 rides)

Monday, October 5

Free Admission: Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: See the Google-backed robot exhibit Robot Revolution for its base-rate of $9–$11 before museum entry gets tacked back on.

Tuesday, October 6

Free Admission: Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: Do the History Museum after-hours with curators and staff from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ($5 adults, free for kids 12 and under)

Wednesday, October 7

Free Admission: Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Do This: Bring in a receipt from any Museum Week visit and get half off admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art or $5 off at the Notebaert Nature Museum.

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