In this paper, we analyse mixing in an active chaotic advection micromixer. The micromixer consists of a main rectangular channel and three cross–stream secondary channels that provide ability for time–dependent actuation of the flow stream in the direction orthogonal to the main stream. Three–dimensional motion in the mixer is studied. Numerical simulations and modelling of the flow are pursued in order to understand the experiments. It is shown that for some values of parameters a simple model can be derived that clearly represents the flow nature. Particle image velocimetry measurements of the flow are compared with numerical simulations and the analytical model. A measure for mixing, the mixing variance coefficient (MVC), is analysed. It is shown that mixing is substantially improved with multiple side channels with oscillatory flows, whose frequencies are increasing downstream. The optimization of MVC results for single side–channel mixing is presented. It is shown that dependence of MVC on frequency is not monotone, and a local minimum is found. Residence time distributions derived from the analytical model are analysed. It is shown that, while the average Lagrangian velocity profile is flattened over the steady flow, Taylor–dispersion effects are still present for the current micromixer configuration.