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17 Reasons You Need the CPL Museum Pass!

17 Reasons You Need the CPL Museum Pass!

You need the CPL museum pass if you are you interested in getting FREE admission to Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Children’s Museum and 12 other fun Chicago destinations! Of course you are! You’ll never guess where we found the secret to getting free admission to these fantastic venues.

It’s probably already in your wallet.

If you have a Chicago Public Library card, you have access to a slew of super-fun resources from CPL. If you’ve got at least one child under 18, you can also access  the Kids Museum Passport!

Kids Museum Passport

The Kids Museum Passport provides admission for a family of four during regular business hours. You can check out one per week. Where will you go?

Adler Planetarium

The Kids Museum Passport grants admission to all exhibitions, including Planet Explorers. Additional shows and experiences, such as Planet Nine and the Historic Atword Sphere Experience, are available for an extra charge.

Art Institute of Chicago

Children under 14 are always free to the Art Institute of Chicago. With this pass, two accompanying adults and two guests between 14 and 18 years of age will also be free! Admission does not include lectures, performances or special exhibitions that require an additional fee.

Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Save $20 at Bronzeville Children’s Museum, where admission is typically $5 per person. The museum is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 9 years old. The library pass includes a free guided tour (offered every hour on the hour).

Brookfield Zoo

The Kids Museum Passport does not include access to The Dolphin Show, The Carousel, Hamill Family Play Zoo, Hamill Family Wild Encounters, Butterflies, Motor Safari, special exhibitions or tours that typically require an extra fee.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Although admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is always free, the Kids Museum Passport also allows families to save 50% off parking for one vehicle (car level only). This pass is not valid on most holidays or event days. No discounts are offered for the Wonderland Express, Model Railroad, Grand Tram, Bright Encounters Tram, and Butterflies & Blooms.

Chicago Children’s Museum

A family of four can receive discounted admission during regular public hours with this pass.

Chicago History Museum

Children who are under age 12 are always free at the Chicago History Museum. With this pass, they can have two adults and two older children accompany them for free!

DuSable Museum of African American History

These passes are not valid on Martin Luther King Day. The museum is also closed Mondays and most major holidays.

The Field Museum

The Kids Museum Passport does not include special exhibitions or 3D films. Additional guests between the ages of 3-11 can qualify for child rates.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Although the Lincoln Park Zoo is always free, this pass enables the family to save 10% on food and retail purchases throughout the zoo.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Children under 12 are always free at the Museum of Contemporary Art! Now, two adults and two older children can join the youngsters for free as well.

Museum of Science and Industry

Extra exhibits, like the Omnimax, U-505 on-board tour, Coal Mine, tours, ticket packages and special exhibitions require an additional admission charge. Additional guests between the ages of 3-11 qualify for child rates.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Although admission is always free, the Kids Museum Passport allows families to save 20% at the museum store.

National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Although admission is always free, the Kids Museum Passport allows families to save 10% at the museum store.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Families of up to four can explore the nature museum for free with this pass.

Shedd Aquarium

Families of up to four people get free admission with this pass. For an additional fee, they can also visit the Abbott Oceanarium, Polar Play Zone, Wild Reef, Amphibians special exhibit, 4-D Experience, Stingray Touch (seasonal) and aquatic shows. Additional guests between the ages of 3 and 11 qualify for child rates.

These passes can be checked out by any adult resident of Chicago who is a CPL cardholder. The pass provides free admission for two adults and two children. At least one child under age 18 must be present for the pass to be valid.

You can pick them up the pass at any CPL location although availability may be limited. Each location only has a certain number of passes to each museum. They are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis with no holds allowed.

Only one passport can be checked out at a time and there are no renewals. There is a $2 per day fine (maximum of $20) for a Kids Museum Passport. If the Passport is lost, you’ll owe $60 plus any overdue fines.

Spend some time at YOUmedia.

Kids in grades 6-12 will love spending time at the library’s YOUmedia stations. With specific locations for middle school and high school grades, the library has created a interactive media wonderland for kids!

In YOUmedia, you’ll find laptops, cameras, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, music equipment, gaming equipment and more. You can choose what to do with the resources that are available to you. Mentors are available to supervise and assist when using cameras, in-house production equipment, drawing tablets, lighting equipment and 3D printers. Using the equipment requires a library card but is absolutely free!

If you’re a high school student, you can even book the production studio at the YOUmedia center on the first floor of the Harold Washington Library Center once you’ve completed three workshops.

Additional Services

Homework Help is available at all CPL locations. Students can also use Brainfuse for one-on-one online assistance between 2pm and 11pm daily. The Brainfuse service can assist with writing, Spanish, ESL, ACT/SAT and more.

Educational resources for kids include Little Pim (a language learning service for kids 3-6 years old), NoveList K-8 Plus, Science online, World Book Kids, World Book Student and more. Kids can also use while visiting the library.

Stream movies, music, eBooks and more from Hoopla.

Download free audiobooks from One Click Digital or Overdive.

Learn a new language with Mango Languages.

Get more FREE stuff in Illinois!

Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.


Monday 4th of March 2019

I have an EBT card but isn’t acvite at the moment, do they actually scan it to see if it’s active or could I still try to use it? My kids have Medicaid still but not good assistance.

Riley Thomson

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

Jennifer, I think you just have to have the card. But you could check with the museum you are going to go to just to be sure. I hope this helps. -Riley


Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Hi Nicole,

I am traveling to Chicago and I have a California EBT card, can I use it here to visit museum?

Nicole Thelin

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

Hi, Danny! You can use your California EBT card at any of the Museums for All partners, which are marked with green titles in this post (click here).

Colleen K Brinkmeier

Friday 1st of June 2018

Hi and good morning I was just sent this link, it is very helpful and something I did not know so thanks so much to let the public know this. My question is on how does someone get this CPL? and is there anything in the Rockford IL area?


Friday 1st of June 2018

Hi, Colleen! You'll need a Chicago address to get a Chicago Public Library card. I'll add the Rockford Public Library to our research list and see what we can find in your area. You can use a Rockford Public Library card to get a reciprocal Chicago Public Library card, but there are some limitations on reciprocal cards. You can get more info on that here. And, as always, you can see all of our Illinois info at this link. Have a great day! :)

Tamika Williams

Wednesday 28th of March 2018

I have a ebt card and I’m trying to bring my family to the shed aquarium and I would like to know what I need to bring or do


Wednesday 28th of March 2018

Hi, Tamika! Usually, you just need your EBT card and a valid photo ID. I hope you enjoy your trip! Here's a list of other places you can visit FREE or cheap with your EBT card! :)