Pricing and Tips for Your Visit
Here's what you need to know to make your visit fun, smooth and educational.
School Group Reservations and Pricing
Reservations are required for all school groups. Prices below are for schools that make their own reservations; click here if you are a tour operator bringing a school group or click here if you are an Illinois home school family. Please make reservations four weeks in advance, and even earlier for peak season (November/December and April/May). Omnimax movies, Learning Labs and special exhibits have additional fees.
Download Pricing: Field Trips
Arrival and Check In
Groups enter and leave through the Group Center, located on the west side of the Museum's Lower Level 1. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before any scheduled event such as Learning Labs, Omnimax or ticketed exhibits. The Group Center can become congested, and check-in may take up to 20 minutes. Please present your Group Confirmation Form and signed Visitation Agreement and provide an accurate group count. If you bring your own lunch, Museum staff will collect and store them until your designated lunch time.
The Museum offers convenient drop off and pick up in the West Parking Lot near the Group Center, but does not provide school bus or motorcoach parking. Just north of the Museum, the City of Chicago offers paid parking at the McCormick Place Truck Marshalling Yard, located at 31st Street and Lake Shore Drive. For information and options on bus parking, please visit Choose Chicago. Paid automobile parking is available in the Museum's underground parking garage.
The Group Center is where school groups enter and leave the Museum, with space for eating lunches (with advance arrangement). The Group Center is located on the west side of the Museum's ground level. The Group Center entrance is in the west ground-level lot on Cornell Drive, just south of the underground parking garage entrance.
Please note that our west parking lot is again open for bus drop off and pick up. However, there is a change in how to enter the lot. You can only turn right into the lot from Cornell Street south of the Museum.
Directions from Lake Shore Drive:
- Exit Lake Shore Drive at 57th Drive.
- At the second light, turn right on 57th Street.
- Turn left at the next light onto Stony Island Avenue.
- Turn left at Midway Plaisance, then left on Cornell Street. Turn right into the west parking lot.
The new group entry lot provides a better experience for our school groups, and it is one of the greenest parking lots in Chicago. We appreciate your cooperation and flexibility.
Bus Scholarship Program
We offer free bus transportation to economically disadvantaged schools in the Chicago Public Schools system. Learn more.
Tips for Your Visit
Make a pre-visit: If possible, visit the Museum before bringing your class to familiarize yourself with the building and the exhibits. Illinois teachers are admitted free by presenting to our ticketing agents your current school ID, union card or a letter signed by your principal on school letterhead.
Schedule a Learning Lab: Our facilitated, hands-on Learning Labs provide in-depth learning experiences for school groups. Labs cost $120-140 and last about 60 to 75 minutes, depending upon the topic. A Learning Lab deposit of $25 will be due two weeks after your reservation request is booked.
Set expectations: The Museum offers 14 acres of exhibit space to explore. Set realistic expectations for how much your group can accomplish and what you want your group to learn. Our exhibits are designed to spark interest and engage the visitor. Rushing to see the entire Museum in one trip can be a frustrating experience. On busy days, it can take 15 minutes to travel from the Group Center to a Learning Lab. Use our map or visit planning tool to decide what to see and do, or check out our exhibit guides.
Ready to book?
One chaperone per 10 students (one per five students in grades K-3) is admitted free. The Idea Factory requires one adult for every five children. Groups with special needs may require additional chaperones. Call (773) 684-1414 with questions about your group. Download our chaperone information sheet to help you provide instructions to chaperones during your visit.
Use of lunchroom space is available by reservation only. Groups may bring their own lunches, visit the Brain Food Court or purchase box lunches ($8.75 for adults and $6.50 for children).
- Happening Now
Take a visually stunning journey into the future of NASA space exploration.
Enter the mysterious world of one of nature's most awe-inspiring marine mammals.
- Coming Soon
New Online Activities
- Online Activity
See what happens when plants compete for survival in an area with limited resources.
- Online Activity
Tap into your inner engineer as you design, build and test model bridges.