Memorial Day concept with salute vector illustration

Neighborhood News: Celebrate our freedoms at the Loop’s Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Memorial Day concept with salute vector illustration

As we reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms on Memorial Day Weekend, it might be helpful to understand military history, military affairs, and national security by visiting the Chicago Loop’s Pritzker Military Museum & Library,104 S. Michigan Avenue, on the second floor.

Though small, and opened just three days a week, (Thursday-Saturday, 10am-4pm, other days by appointment) the museum explores our military past, present, and future – with a specific focus on the military’s stories, sacrifices, and values. They also host a YouTube Channel, ‘This Week in Military History.’ 

Take, for example, its current exhibit on the War of 1812, here through July 27:

Did you know …

As narrated on their website, on August 24th, 1814, British forces marched into Washington, D.C. and set fire to the Capitol building and the White House? Amidst the chaos, John McDonald and Lewis Machen, young clerks at the time, worked together to save the Senate’s papers and move them to the Quaker village of Brookeville, in the neighboring Montgomery County. The occupation of Washington by British forces lasted a total of 26 long-devastating hours and spread beyond to nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

History of the Museum 

According to Wikipedia sources, the institution was opened in 2003 as the Pritzker Military Library, founded by Honorary Colonel James (now Jennifer) Pritzker, who had just retired from the Illinois Army National Guard. She is the cousin of current Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker and former US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Colonel Pritzker intended the museum as a non-partisan institution for the study of “the citizen soldier as an essential element for the preservation of democracy.”

Exhibits and Collections 

Battles & Conflicts of the War of 1812’ also provides profiles of the women and minorities who bravely served their newfound country, despite the fact that slavery was legal and voting rights were denied. 

A permanent exhibit is the ‘Medal of Honor.’ Since December of 1861, the Medal of Honor has been awarded to 3,510 men and 1 woman, who have distinguished themselves through “gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”  

The gallery features materials from the collections of Vietnam veteran Sergeant Allen Lynch and World War II veteran Corporal Hershel “Woody” Williams, as well as a rotating selection of materials to highlight the actions of recipients that connects with the museum’s primary exhibits. 

Free this weekend 

The museum offers free admission on Memorial Day Weekend, as well as Veterans Day.

Many programs and special events are free throughout the year. They also offer discounts on memberships for veterans which includes many benefits including free admission. 

General admission to the Museum & Library is $10.00. The cost for seniors, students, and teachers with valid IDs is $8.00. Admission is free for members, children under 12, First Responders, and Active Military. 

Tickets may be purchased upon arrival, advance purchase is not required. 


Members at the Honor Level and above receive a $5 off validation for parking at Millennium Garages. The closest garages to the Museum & Library are the Millennium Park Garage, Grant Park North Garage, and Grant Park South Garage. Please ask for a validation ticket at the Museum Front Desk. 

For nonmembers, reserve your parking spot at Pritzker Military Museum and Library SpotHero Parking Page to book a spot with rates up to 50% off. For more information, click here.

Here’s to remembering all citizens (and their families) who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms this Memorial Day! 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago