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Visiting with Your Family

With free admission for kids under 14, the Art Institute is a perfect family outing! Explore our family-friendly art-making activities, self-guides, games, and more below.

For more information about upcoming programs and events, visit the family programs calendar, download the latest brochure, sign up for our newsletter, or call (312) 857-7161.

Stop by the newly refreshed Family Room to explore JourneyMaker!
The Family Room is open until 6:30 on Thursdays in July.

Introduce your child to the wonder and joy of art at family programs and workshops that combine looking at art with hands-on experiences. Family programs are scheduled on select days, year round. 


Drop in!

Artist's Studio (All ages with an adult)
Daily 
Drop in 10:30–5:00
On Thursdays in July 10:30-6:30
Free; no registration required

Drop in at the Artist’s Studio in the Ryan Learning Center and work as a family on an art project that you can take home. Activities are thematically linked to artwork in the museum’s collection and special exhibitions. 

Artist’s Studio programs are designed for children of all ages, along with their caregivers. They take place daily in the Family Room during Family Room hours. Admission to the Ryan Learning Center is always free, so come as often as you like!

Summer Open Studio 
Thursdays–Sundays in July
Fridays–Sundays in August
11:00–2:00
Find your inspiration in the work of Chicago-based artist Cauleen Smith. Learn about her interdisciplinary work with films, drawings, and books, and make something today!  

Art Making in the Galleries
Fridays and Saturdays
June 30-August 4
1:30-3:30
Join us for drop-in art-making activities inspired by the Art Institute's collection. Stop by the Family Room for location information. 

Picture This (Ages 18 months-3 years, with caregivers)
First Thursday of each month
11:00-11:30
Free with museum admission; no registration required
Meet in Griffin Court
Celebrate some of your favorite picture books. Look and listen as you enjoy a story that relates to a work of art in the galleries. 

Find all upcoming drop-in family programs. 


Sign Up!

Registration for workshops opens on the first day of the month preceeding the workshop date. Refer to the family programs calendar or brochure for available programs. Space is limited. All workshops take place on Saturdays. 

Artful Play (Ages 3–5 with an adult)
Advance registration required
60 minutes

Artful play workshops offer a guided and joyful experience in the museum for preschool-aged children and their caregivers. Previously offered under the name Mini Masters, these programs are led by experienced museum educators and are developed based on quality early-learning standards for object- and museum-based learning. Workshop themes change regularly and include storytelling, guided gallery visits, dramatic play, and creative exploration of art materials.  

Find upcoming Artful Play (formerly Mini Masters) workshops.

Family Workshop (Ages 6–12 with an adult)
Advance registration required

Family workshops provide school-age children and their families with focused, age-appropriate experiences in the galleries and the studio. Workshop themes change regularly, and studio projects span a range of activities, from making suits of armor to painting in the Impressionist style to carving clay reliefs to printing with ink on fabric. Special exhibitions, including illustration, architecture, and photography, are often highlighted in these workshops.

Find upcoming family workshops

Tween Workshop (Ages 9–12)
Advance registration required

Tween workshops combine gallery experiences with art making in the studio and are designed for tweens on their own, without an adult companion. Workshops often include technology-based activities and have featured photo collage, animation, and installation art.

Find upcoming tween workshops


Registering for Programs and Workshops

Sign-up programs meet in the Ryan Learning Center and travel to the galleries. If you're a member of the Art Institute, please bring your member card for admission to the galleries. Museum admission tickets are required for accompanying adults and children ages 14 and over.

Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Admission to the Ryan Learning Center is always free.
Admission to the museum is free for children under 14.

Special Events 

Free

No registration required

Family festivals and events offer an exciting array of activities in the Ryan Learning Center, including gallery walks, art making, performances, or other fun surprises! 

Family Festivals are generously sponsored by Richard and Ann Carr.


 22nd Annual Kaleidoscope Family Day: Drawing Together 
Saturday, July 22
Drop in 10:30‒3:00

Celebrate the power of art to draw people together on this day of discovery, creativity, and fun. Participate in collaborative art-making with your family and with families from around the city. Explore two inspiring drawing exhibitions featuring the work of Chicago artist Cauleen Smith and cartoonist Saul Steinberg. Release your creative energies in gallery experiences facilitated by museum educators and cultural partners. Join in the fun. All Illinois families receive admission to the museum during Kaleidoscope.  


Admission

Festival programs located in the Ryan Learning Center are free. Museum admission tickets are required for festival programs that take place in the museum galleries, outside the Ryan Learning Center. 

Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Admission to the Ryan Learning Center is always free.
Admission to the museum is free for children under 14.

Planning Ahead

Engaging Your Children in Art (video)


Practical Matters

Backpacks and Baby Carriers
Please be aware that backpacks and backpack-style baby carriers are not permitted in the galleries.

Strollers
A limited number of strollers are available free of charge at both the Michigan Avenue and Modern Wing entrances. All galleries are accessible via elevator or ramp. Strollers may be restricted in special exhibitions due to space limitations. Please call (312) 443-3600 prior to your visit for additional information.

Dining
The Museum Café is family-friendly dining space that offers a host of healthy and delicious options. Plus a new kids menu created for our youngest visitors features all the classic kid favorites—from peanut butter and jelly and pizza to macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders!

Family Restrooms
All restrooms are equipped with changing tables. There is a family restroom on the first level near the Modern Wing entrance. Drinking fountains are also available near every restroom.

Nursing
While there are no restrictions prohibiting breastfeeding or bottle-feeding infants in the museum, there are several areas in the museum that may provide a more comfortable environment for nursing mothers.

While not as private, the Family Room in the Ryan Learning Center on the first level of the Modern Wing is another space where a mother could comfortably nurse or bottle feed a young child.

Sketching in the Galleries
For pencil sketching in the museum, please consult with the security officer in the appropriate gallery. Paper and pads must be no larger than 13 x 17 inches. Easels, stools, or anything that interferes with movement in the gallery are not permitted.


Admission

Admission to the Ryan Learning Center is always free.
Admission to the museum is free for children under 14.

Museum admission tickets can be purchased in advance online.

Families with children under 14 years of age can visit the Art Institute for free with the Museum Adventure Pass from the Chicago Public Library. Contact your local Chicago Public Library branch for more information. 

Vitale Family Room
Daily
10:30–5:00 

Introduce your child to the museum’s encyclopedic collection with a variety of hands-on activities in the Vitale Family Room. Assemble puzzles based on masterpieces you’ll see in the galleries, browse art books for young readers, build architectural wonders with colorful blocks, and explore our new digital interactive JourneyMaker

The Family Room is closed on the following holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.


Ryan Learning Center Exhibitions

The Ryan Learning Center is the perfect place to start your museum visit. Prominently located on the first level of the Modern Wing, this state-of-the-art education facility is also home to several exhibitions that are oriented towards families and teens. 


Mini-Tours

Pick up our free family mini-tours, self-guides, and gallery games in the Family Room of the Ryan Learning Center. Or download your favorites. Check out our complete list of mini-tours.


Collection and Exhibitions

Explore our collections and current and upcoming exhibitions to find works of art that might excite your child or relate to a subject they are studying in school.


Curious Corner

Explore, interact, and learn about the collection at the Curious Corner from home.