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Free, Free, Free! Chicago Arts + Events

Free Free Free! Chicago Arts + Events

"Free, Free, Free!" is an e-newsletter and website that provides a monthly curated list of free programs, events and activities happening throughout the city in our libraries, museums, cultural centers and parks. We encourage you to express your culture through the arts and take advantage of the many opportunities the City of Chicago provides you to engage, create and participate!

  Rahm Emanuel Mayor   Mark Kelly Commissioner  
Rahm Emanuel
Mark Kelly




Court/Garden by a canary torsi (Photo by: Maria Baranova)February 23 - March 25

Chicago Cultural Center and other Locations, Various Hours

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) presents the fourth annual OnEdge, the experimental live performance series, February 23-March 25, 2017. The FREE admission series will feature Chicago and world premieres from national and international artists and companies at venues including the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.), Dfbrl8r gallery (1463 W. Chicago Ave.), American Theater Company (1909 W. Byron St.), The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St.) and the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse (3035 N. Hoyne Ave.) Visit the website for a complete listing of events!


Lake FX CreativeCon


Kevin LilesFriday, April 21-Saturday, April 22

Lake FX Chicago 2017 CreativeCon presented by Google

Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.  

The third annual Lake FX CreativeCon, the Midwest's largest FREE conference for emerging artists and creatives, will feature professional development workshops, an interactive resource fair, networking opportunities, auditions in front of leading A&R label executives for selected musicians and a keynote address by Kevin Liles, Co-founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment and CEO of KWL Management.   


WTTW Community Cinema


Claudia Cassidy TheaterSaturday, April 15, 2-5pm

Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor North

WTTW presents Community Cinema in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Attend a free screening and discussion about an award-winning documentary every third Saturday of the month. For details, visit





StoryCorps®Ongoing, Thursdays: 12-6pm; Saturdays: 10am-4pm

Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., 1st Floor North

StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives, is partnering with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and Chicago Public Media to record, preserve and share the diverse stories of communities in Chicago. Learn more about StoryCorps and sign up at to share your story!



Nicole Marroquin and Andres L. Hernandez: Historical F(r)ictions


Historical F(r)ictions: Imagining Public Archives of Contested ChicagoFebruary 18-May 7, 2017

Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor South

By critically engaging with archival materials and living testimonies, Nicole Marroquin and Andres L. Hernandez rewrite two narratives of citizen struggle in Chicago: student walkouts on the Lower West Side between 1968-1973, and resident-led protests at the Cabrini-Green housing development in spring 1981. The artists transform the galleries into a suite of active public archives and invite participants to interpret the recent past in order to re-imagine solutions to the crises of our historic present.


Art Institute of Chicago


Art Institute of Chicago111 S. Michigan Ave.

Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5-8pm. Additionally children under age 14 and Chicago teens (17 and under) are always free and the public can enjoy the following museum areas free of charge: The Ryan Learning Center in the Modern Wing, as well as all programs for families and children within the center, the North and South Gardens (accessible from Michigan Avenue), the Nichols Bridgeway and the Bluhm Family Terrace on the 3rd floor of the west pavilion of the Modern Wing.

In addition, The Art Institute participates in the Museums for All program which offers LINK and WIC cardholders free general admission to the museum. Present your card along with a valid photo ID to receive free access for you and your family.


The DuSable Museum of African American History


The DuSable Museum of African American History740 E. 56th St.

The DuSable Museum of African American History located in the historic Hyde Park area of Chicago at 740 East 56th Place (57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue) in Washington Park unites art, history and culture. Admission is FREE to all on each Tuesday of the year! 





Year of Public Art

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2017 the "Year of Public Art" with a new 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more -- representing a $1.5 million investment in artist-led community projects.


Caracol-A Gathering SpaceContratiempo

ARTWORK/PERFORMANCE: Caracol-A Gathering Space

Select dates, April 29-September 30
Burnham Wildlife Corridor Gathering Space, north of 31st Street Beach at the Lakefront

Caracol (Like snails, immigrants carry their home with them) is a community and artist-developed installation program inspired by the themes of migration, language and literature as identity builders. The weekend art programs in this living laboratory among the lakefront’s native ecology examines how we connect to the land, the city and across our communities.


B-SeriesThe Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago


Friday, April 14-Saturday, April 15
Columbia College Chicago Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.

A celebration of the cultures, histories and aesthetics of hip-hop and street-dance forms such as breaking, popping and Chicago footwork, the B-series spotlights some of the most talented street dancers in the region. Curated by Kelsa Robinson, visiting lecturer at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. View the full schedule of events at


PropertyRoman Susan Art Foundation

EXHIBIT: Property 

April 1-30
Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, 7363 N. Greenview Ave. 

In a collaborative project by Roman Susan Art Foundation and the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, this storefront window exhibition features new image-based works that reflect the way neighborhoods grow, mutate and persist as a result of property development. Historical Society Hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays 10am-4pm.


Night Out In The Parks

Presented by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Night Out in the Parks brings over 1,000 cultural events to neighborhood parks each year. Chicagoans and visitors alike, enjoy the breadth of world-class events in every one of the city's 77 community areas. Here are a few programming highlights happening in April, but be sure to check out their website (or download the app!) for a full listing of events!


NextGenJazz SummitJazz City Concert at Loyola

Friday, April 14, 7am-9pm

Loyola Park, 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.


NextGenJazz Summit

Come hear what Chicago's newest voices have to play, including Jalen Baker, vibes; Julius Tucker, piano; Justin Boyd, drums; Andrew Vogt and Runere Brooks, bass; Hunter Jay Diamond, Mai Suginoto and Leonard Thompson, saxophone and Quentin Coaxum, trumpet. Selected and directed by saxophonist and educator Jarrard Harris. JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the Jazz Institute in collaboration with the Chicago Park District.



Stargazing: Earth Day at La VillitaStargazing: Earth Day at La Villita

Saturday, April 22, 6:30-9:30pm

La Villita Park, 2800 S. Sacramento

Celebrate Earth Day with a special Dark Sky night with the Chicago Astronomer: look deep into the night sky and learn about phases of the moon, neighboring planets, star clusters, nebulae, and more. Community park clean-up for Earth Day at 6:30pm, followed by a bonfire and stargazing from 7:30-9:30pm. In the event of rain, activities will be postponed until April 29th.



North Park Village Nature CenterThe Art of the Letter & the Envelope at NPV

Sunday, April 30, 1-3:30pm

North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

Increasingly, we spend a lot of time tapping on our smart phones and mobile devices, so it's easy to see how many of us (and our children) rarely find time to sit down and write a letter to someone. But giving and getting letters need not be a dying art! In this workshop, you'll have the time to write a letter, (or two or three) embellish envelopes with an inspiring stash of recycled ephemera, and create a few pages of your own stationery. Letter writing enthusiast and educator Bonnie Tawse will also bring a few vintage typewriters plus her collection of vintage and new stamps (all valid postal currency). Materials included. Registration required.


Chicago Public Library

Since first opening our doors in 1873, Chicago Public Library has served all Chicagoans with free and open places to gather, learn, connect, read and be transformed. The libraries are that special third place-beyond home and work-where people come to improve their lives, nourish their intellect or savor entertainment. Their 80 locations host a variety of free events ranging from performances, arts and crafts, writing and poetry, continuing education and more. Here are a few stand-out events happening in March, but be sure to check out their full event calendar for programming at your local library!


CelebrationsBooks in Bloom

Saturday, April 8, 12-2pm
Back of the Yards, 2111 W. 47th St.

Celebrate spring and books with the whole family! Explore some of our favorite new picture books through interactive read alouds and exciting crafts.


Writing and PoetryShakespeare: More Rad Than You Know

Saturday, April 22, 2-4pm

Merlo Branch, 644 W. Belmont Ave.

Bet you don't know as much as you think you know about the Bard! Come learn about Shakespeare's wide-reaching influence on our culture in a round of trivia and discussion in celebration of National Poetry Month. Snacks provided.



38th Annual Bessie Coleman Celebration 38th Annual Bessie Coleman Celebration

Saturday, April 29, 10am-12pm
Coleman Branch, 731 E. 63rd St.

Celebrate female aviators and the life and accomplishments of Bessie Coleman.

Join the Fly Girls of Denver, Co., and the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Chicago Chapter as they honor the memory of Bessie Coleman and her legacy by describing their experience as pilots and authors. This event will also feature a small performance of the play "Black Girls Can Fly."





Clarke House Museum Tours


Clarke House Museum (Photo by: Michael Beasley)Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1pm and 3pm

Clarke House Museum, 1827 S. Indiana Ave.

The Clarke House Museum is Chicago's oldest home. Tours of this 1836 Greek Revival-style house reveal what life was like for a middle class family in Chicago, when the city was in its formative years before the Civil War. Hour-long guided tours of Clarke House Museum are now free. Tours are limited to 15 people, available on a first-come, first-served basis. For groups of 5 or more, please contact



Under The Picasso


Under The Picasso

Weekdays, performances begin at 12pm

Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presents FREE cultural programs year-round weekdays at Noon at the Daley Civic Center. Visit the website for a complete list of March's programs!




National Museum of Mexican Art


National Museum of Mexican Art

1852 W. 19th St.

Visit The National Museum of Mexican Art, where you can immerse yourself in the richness of Mexican art and culture right here in Chicago. They showcase 3,000 years of creativity from both sides of the border, connecting museum visitors to the diversity of Mexican culture. Admission is always free to the Museum! Check out their website for information on events and exhibitions.




Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum


Peggy Notebaert Nature MuseumThursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents
2430 N. Cannon Dr.

For 160 years, The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has been connecting Chicagoans to nature and science. Visit their website to follow biologists on their latest expedition, explore their rich history and discover what exhibits await you on your next visit. Illinois residents can enjoy free admission as part of our Suggested Donation Thursdays.




National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (Nmprac)


National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (Nmprac)

3015 W. Divison St.

NMPRAC features visual art exhibitions, hands-on community arts workshops, films in the park and an annual outdoor fine arts and crafts festival. Admission is free to all residents and visitors every day!





Maxwell Street Market


Maxwell Street Market

Every Sunday, Year-round, 7am-3pm

South Loop, 800 S. Desplaines St.

The Maxwell Street Market is a Chicago tradition of bargains and bargaining with an international flavor. The market offers an eclectic mix of merchandise-from tools to tires, plus fresh produce, furniture, clothing, rare finds and collectibles-and some of the best Mexican and Latin street food in Chicago.