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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.

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

Introduce your child to the wonders and joys 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)
No registration required

Drop in at the Artist’s Studio in the Ryan Education 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, and take place daily in the Family Room during Family Room hours. Admission to the Ryan Education Center is always free, so come as often as you like!

Find upcoming Artist’s Studio programs.

Sign Up!

Mini Masters Workshop (Ages 3–5 with an adult)
Advance registration is required.
60 minutes

Mini Masters Workshops provides a first experience in the museum galleries for preschool-age children and their caregivers. Programs are led by experienced museum educators and may include stories from picture books, pretend games, creative explorations of art materials, and a guided gallery visit.

Find upcoming Mini Masters workshops.

Family Workshop (Ages 6–12 with an adult)
Advance registration is 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 range from making suits of armor to painting in the Impressionist style, from 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)
Advanced registration is 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 have featured photo collage, animation, and installation art and often included technology-based activities.  

Find upcoming tween workshops

Registering for Programs and Workshops

Workshop sign-up begins the first of the month prior to the month of the program. Refer to the family programs calendar or brochure for a current schedule of available programs. Space is limited.

Sign-up programs meet in the Ryan Education Center and travel to the galleries. Please bring your Art Institute member card or museum admission tickets for children age 14 and above and for adults.

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

We regret that we cannot accept groups for family programs. Please visit the family community groups page for additional information on how to schedule a family group program.

Special Events

No registration required

Family festivals and events offer an exciting array of activities in the Ryan Education Center, and may include gallery walks, art-making, performances, and other fun surprises! Our mascot Artie the lion also makes an appearance at most family festivals.

Family Festival 

Saturday, November 21, 2015
Drop in 10:30-3:00

Join us for a special day, highlighting the exhibition Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings with a focus on two autumn celebrations from India, the Gujarati festival Sharad Navratri, and Diwali, a celebration of harvest and light. Create a work of art inspired by Indian traditions at activity stations throughout the Ryan Education Center, including the Little Studio for our youngest visitors (under age 5). Discover Hindu stories in a session led by a costumed storyteller. Enjoy dance performances by Mandala in a range of styles from Dandiya Raas to Garba to Bollywood, then join in a lively community dance.

24th Annual Wreathing of the Lions

Friday, November 27, 2015
Drop in 10:30-3:00

Start the winter season with this Chicago family favorite. After the ceremony on Michigan Avenue at 10:00, decorate your own wreath inspired by images of winter wonderlands in the Art Institute collection. 

Holly Days

December 27-30
Drop-in 10:30-3:00

Create a diorama of your family's favorite holiday traditions. Visit our Neopolitan crèche and holiday Thorne Rooms for inspiration. 


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

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

If you are interested in bringing a family group to an upcoming special event, please visit the family community groups page for additional information on how to schedule a family group program.

Planning Ahead

Planning Your Family Visit (video)

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.

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.

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.

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

Museum admission tickets can be puchased 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. 

We regret that we cannot accept groups for family programs. Please visit the family community groups page for additional information on how to schedule a family group program.

Vitale Family Room

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 learn about art through interactive stories and games at Curious Corner.

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

The Family Room will also be closed June 9–15 and December 24, 26, and 31.

Ryan Education Center Exhibitions

The Ryan Education 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 family and teen oriented exhibitions. 

Audio Tour
Lions Trail Family Tour
$7 ($5 for members) 

This special family audio guide, designed for children ages 5 to 10, offers an informative, dramatic, and fun way to tour the museum and is available in English or Spanish. With 32 stops, it's the perfect length for kids and a great way to inspire them to explore the museum. Audio guides can be purchased with admission tickets or separately at the audio guide counter in the Michigan Avenue or Modern Wing lobbies.


Pick up our free family mini-tours, self-guides, and gallery games in the Family Room of the Ryan Education 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 or in the Family Room.