We all know Chicago shines in the summertime. The lakefront, neighborhood festivals, BYOB patios, farmer’s markets—the Windy City knows how to party like it’s 1999.
And surprisingly, so do its museums. Chicago’s museums are bursting with monthly evening events that combine live music, tasty chow, cocktails, and museum access. If you haven’t yet, it’s worth it to spend a night at the museum (just not in that cheesy-Ben-Stiller-movie-kind-of-way.)
Tuesdays on the Terrace: Every Tuesday, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers free live jazz from 5:30 to 8 p.m. They also offer a dinner buffet cooked up by Wolfgang Puck Catering for $25, which uses produce from the Museum’s farmers market. Cash bar on lower terrace. Next Tuesday: Harrison Bankhead, a Chicago bassist.
Adler After Dark: Every third Thursday of the month, the Adler Planetarium hosts a 21+ over event, which was just voted Chicago’s “Best Evening Museum Event,” by the Chicago Reader. Sip a cocktail, peer out Chicago’s largest public telescope, walk through open exhibitions and shows, and take in the museum’s spectacular view of the skyline. Next event: August 22nd, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at box office.
Martini Monday: The Art Institute hosts arguably one of the city’s more expensive and elegant monthly museum events. For $50, guests can enjoy cocktails, appetizers, live music, and special after-hours gallery viewing in the museum’s South Garden. July 29th and August 26th, 6-8 p.m., reservations required. This month, you’ll get an exclusive look at the museum’s Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibit.
Jazzin’ at the Shedd—This is one of the best ways to soak up Chicago summertime. Every Wednesday, the Shedd Aquarium offers a cash bar, live jazz, and a beautiful patio to view the lit-up skyline and fireworks bursting over Navy Pier. Extended hours for a few exhibits. June 26-Sept. 4; 5-10 p.m. Adults $18.
2nd Fridays Gallery Night: Thirty galleries and artist studios open their doors to the public in Pilsen on the second Friday of every month. And the best part? It’s free. The Chicago Arts District hosts the event at South Halsted and 18th St. from 6-10 p.m.
The Adler Planetarium's After Dark event.