Free, low-cost art and culture thrive in Rockford

The iconic Rockford Peaches are saluted in this mural by Jenny Ustick and Atalie Gagnet on the exterior of Nicholson Properties at 206 7th St. in Rockford. (Rockford Area Convention and Visi-tor’s Bureau photo)

Rockford offers a wide variety of arts and culture for visitors to enjoy for free or at low cost ranging from outdoor murals to fantastic museums in the downtown area and beyond.

Here’s a look as some selected sites, as recommended by the Rockford Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau:

CRE8IV transformational art – Murals and Sculpture. Since 2019, the Rockford Region has been transformed with the CRE8IV Arts Festival, a placemaking event from the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. There are currently 34 murals as part of this program and dozens of permanent and on-loan sculptures. Find at map at:

Rockford Art Museum, 711 N. Main St. Rockford. Open Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. A local institution since 1913, the museum features permanent collections as well as special exhibits. It’s free to view the art, except for some exhibits and classes. Parents can look for summer activities can enroll their children in art camp.

317 Art Collaborative, 317 Market St. Rockford. Open Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. This non-profit works with local artists to offer classes, studio, art galleries and special events.

The Underground Art Gallery, 418 E. State St. Rockford. Open Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The gallery features work from local artist Roni Golan including a unique bar with hand-painted chairs including symbols of Rockford.

Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. This 12-acre award-winning garden featuring waterfalls, a koi pond, Japanese plants, breathtaking views and so much more. There is an onsite restaurant and special events, including a Japanese tea ceremony and a summer concert series.

Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 2715 S. Main St., Rockford. Open daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The 155-acre botanic garden that offers a unique experience for all ages. Children will love the kids garden which features a splash pad and an alphabet garden. Klehm hosts several special events, including a summer garden fair.

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The facility is open year-round and features tropical plants from around the world. It is a largest conservatory in Illinois and features several special events including interactions with butterflies and a light show during the holidays.

Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford. Main Museum Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, noon-4 p.m.

Victorian Living History open weekends, Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, noon-4 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m. Visitors can tour their museum and learn about the rich history of Rockford and walk to the Victorian Village to see history come to life with costumed interpreters.