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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.

Stop by the newly refreshed Family Room to explore JourneyMaker

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)
Daily 
Drop in 10:30–5:00
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 and 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!

Find all upcoming drop-in family programs. 


Sign Up!

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. 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 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 known as 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 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)
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 have featured photo collage, animation, and installation art and often include technology-based activities.  

Find upcoming tween workshops


Registering for Programs and Workshops

Sign-up programs meet in the Ryan Learning 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 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, and may include gallery walks, art making, performances, and other fun surprises! 

Family Festivals are generously sponsored by Richard and Ann Carr. 


Holly Days
December 27–December 30
Drop In 10:30–3:00

Celebrate the season of light with bright and colorful art making. Create your own mixed-media projects inspired by light-filled artworks in the museum's collection and special exhibitions.

King Day Festival: Lift Every Voice
Monday, January 16
Drop In 10:30-3:00 

Discover the power of your voice and tell the story of your vision for the world. Hear a reading of a new children's book, A Gift From Greensboro, by author Quraysh Ali Lansana and experience performances by young poets from Reborn Poetry Ensemble. Participate in collaborative art-making with artist Indira Freitas Johnson, enjoy art chats with teen interns about art on view, and much more. Admission to the museum is free for all Illinois residents during this event as part of Free Winter Weekdays. 


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.