Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Cultural Center
4.5
Architectural BuildingsCivic Centres
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
About
The Chicago Cultural Center is the nation's first free municipal cultural center and one of the most visited attractions in Chicago. The stunning landmark building, opened in 1897 as the city's first public library, is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, and annually presents hundreds of free cultural exhibits and performances. Admission is free.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Downtown / The Loop
Often visitors' first stop in Chicago, The Loop is a good starting point to sample the city's energy and flavor. This central business district boasts Michelin-rated restaurants, upscale hotels, premier shopping, and enough arresting architecture to keep your camera busy for hours. You won’t find too many photo galleries of downtown Chicago without a shot of Millennium Park and Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. A stunning skyline coupled with cultural attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago present a Downtown where work and play peacefully coexist.
How to get there
  • Randolph/Wabash • 2 min walk
  • Lake • 4 min walk
Reach out directly
See what travelers are saying
  • Judith B
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful old architecture.
    This is the former Chicago public library building, now the Chicago Cultural Center. It's the home base of the Chicago Greeter Program. The building is beautiful and well worth a visit. I am so glad that this building has been saved for the public to enjoy. Admission is free.
    Visited June 2023
    Written July 5, 2023
  • hrobinson1114
    Nashville, Tennessee2,788 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Mainly for the architecture
    This is the site of the former Chicago Public Library. It’s more of an event center for the city of Chicago. There may be a Chicago themed exhibit here or there, or a festival or dinner (a Japanese festival was this weekend), but it isn’t really a museum. I gave this site four stars mainly for the architecture. The cultural center has the largest Tiffany glass dome (third floor) as well as another pretty stained glass dome (second floor). There are also some impressive staircases, windows, ceilings. Not a must see, but worth a stop. Would be easy to do, as it’s close to tourist attractions like Navy Pier and the American Writer’s Museum. Not terribly far from the Art Institute of Chicago either.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written August 19, 2023
  • Stephanie M
    27 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Free Things to Do
    We stopped here unplanned. It is a nice, free place to explore. A lot of the art exhibits were closed, but they did have a vending machine that sold local artists creations (pins, keychains, etc.) Even with the closed art exhibits, there is a lot to see and read.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 17, 2023
  • kleic
    San Antonio, Texas1,027 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Hiding in Plain Sight!
    This place is astonishing and yet many people who live in Chicago and almost everyone who visits Chicago doesn't know about it! It sits right off Michigan Avenue so it's easy to visit when you're at the Art Institute or the Bean so go, go, go! The two glass domes and the mosaics transport you to a different time and place. Next time I'm in Chicago I'm going to carve out several hours on a weekday to visit this gem!
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written November 12, 2023
  • J h
    74 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Interesting
    Beautiful building . Take a walk up the stair case to view at all the exquisite elements of the interior design. Be careful if you are sensitive to smells right now. There is an art installation of some type of plastic/ rubbery covered hoses that his covered some of the beauty of the staircase. There is an out-gassing which stinks. I feel sorry for the staff and concerned for their health. You may need to check to learn if this has been removed.
    Visited November 2023
    Written November 15, 2023
  • DavidO99
    Hutto, Texas65 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful architecture inside, pop in for a 10 minute visit
    The Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful building. The architecture was amazing. Go in and check out the lobby area, look up and around. Then go up the stairs and check out the rooms and area up there. It does not take long, but is free and totally worth popping in for 10 minutes.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written March 12, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles3,066 reviews
Excellent
2,075
Very good
809
Average
147
Poor
26
Terrible
9

McHenryDad
McHenry, IL236 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
This building was built to be a library and Civil War monument. Walk in for 10 minutes to see the 2 beautiful domed ceilings. Spend more time if you appreciate the other architecture or historical aspects. The building is now used to display art exhibits; the one we saw was by some angry dude but totally worth the cost of the free admission.
Written January 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Debbie R
Los Angeles, CA14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
The Chicago Cultural Center was originally occupied by the main library in downtown Chicago. It is now a cultural center, offering a variety of programs and concerts, many free to the public. Don’t miss the Tiffany glass dome on the 3rd floor or the magnificent dome on the 2nd floor.
Written February 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ParisWanderlust
Paris127 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
Chicago certainly has its share of outstanding building. This used to be the city’s public library and dates from the end of the 19th century. A gorgeous example of Beaux Arts architecture. You can wander around inside and admire the beautiful rooms, including a huge Tiffany dome. There are lots of activities including free concerts and a guided tour from Wed to Sat at 1.15 pm which is well worth it.
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

T&J
Los Angeles, CA270 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
I loved everything about this place, from the architecture of the building (artwork in itself), to the beautiful, moving art installation I experienced, to the fact that all of this is free. I saw things that took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I laughed, I cried. I was reminded of the depths of the human experience and humbled and so very grateful that these talented artists had shared a piece of themselves with me. This is a special place and aptly located in the heart of Chicago, an accessible, culturally rich and wondrous city.
Written February 4, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

The_Coach55
Ruislip, UK975 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Couples
Chicago Cultural Center is located on East Washington Street in the Loop area of the city close to Millennium Park.

The only exhibition on during our visit was Exquisite Canvas : Mural Takeover. This was a collection of works by Cecilia Beaven, Miguel A. Del Real and Anna Murphy, which were quite thought provoking.

The star of the show, however, was the building itself. Constructed in the late 19th century, it was formerly the city’s public library.

The decor and fittings are beautifully ornate especially the dome.

Admission is free and although there is currently not much to see, the beauty of the building makes a brief visit worthwhile.
Written August 8, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

eve99999
Washington DC, DC7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022 • Friends
We joined a free tour leaving from the cultural center and had a blast! Alan, our guide, was exceptional. Super knowledgeable and kind, he showed us around the center and the Loop. We also went inside a few buildings and he spoke about the history, art, and architecture of the city. Would highly recommend. It’s great that it’s free and accessible to all!
Written June 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marcia B
Bloomfield, CT150 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
Visiting this landmark is free. It is made up of a four-story north side and a five-story south side. When I visited, I did the tour with the aid of a tour guide You can tour the building by climbing the stairs or taking the elevator. Its shining glory is its two large stained-glass domes. Touring it was worth the visit.
Written October 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MidwestKathM
Detroit, MI938 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
Awesome building!! In visiting Chicago many times in the last 40 years, I had not returned to the Chicago Cultural Center since our first visit (when it was still part of the Chicago Public Library). Entering at the Washington street entrance, I was blown away by the White Carrera marble staircase decorated with inlaid mosaic designs from floor to ceiling. At the top of the stairs, the Roman arched doorways lead into the Hall where the fabulous Tiffany glass dome is illuminated by sunlight and there is more mosaic tilework featuring names and quotations. Love the green Irish Connemara marble accents too! A great place to meditate on the beauty of it all!! Be sure to walk up the staircase to the top floor, just to see all the mosaic work (and the exterior top of the Dome). Maybe not as amazing, but pretty nearly so, is the G.A.R. Rotunda featuring a beautiful glass dome and the adjacent Memorial Hall with displays and decoration related to the Civil War and life in Chicago during the Civil War. On the first floor there is a gallery featuring a panoramic photo wall of the aftermath of the 1871 Chicago Fire that destroyed much of the city. Throughout the building there are art exhibitions by local artists. And inside the Randolph Street entrance is a room with tables and chairs to meet up with friends, or just sit and read. And it's free!
Written June 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Grover R
Pensacola, FL18,123 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
This is an amazing gem in the middle of the city. While there were many guidebooks that tell you this is something worth seeing but they don't really tell you what. What you are seeing is the old public library that has a couple of the most ornate rooms. This is what you come to see and it is self guided so you can do it at really any time it is open and as fast or slow as you want. I think it was totally worth seeing, the two glass dome rooms and reception room were incredible, see the pictures. The exterior is also beautiful on Michigan Ave. Again this can be a fast stop to see some architectural interior jewels.
Written August 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hanan C
California643 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Family
From outside, you wouldn’t know what’s inside. But the minute you step inside and walk up the grand stairs, you are ushered into a large room covered with a stupendous dome. Tiffany dome ― 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass. Amazing!
The walls are covered with mosaics of hold, stones and mother-of-pearl. The arches have names of classic philosophers and famous writers. It’s amazing to imagine that this building was Chicago’s public library. Now it has a theater, an art gallery and a dance studio.
Written November 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Chicago Cultural Center - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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