History of the Museum

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum was incorporated as a Michigan nonprofit corporation in 1998. It obtained formal acknowledgment of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 2000.

During the first four years, a dedicated Board of Trustees worked diligently and unceasingly with other community volunteers to bring the Children’s Museum to northwest lower Michigan. Through their commitment and energy, an important cultural resource has been brought to the children and families of this area.

1999
Outreach programs reached 11,400 children in two years with Stuffee, an African Village, and programs about water quality and American songs and folklore

2000
Hired our first Executive Director.

2001
Located and renovated the Museum’s pilot location.

August 12, 2001
Grand Opening of the first Museum with featured exhibits like a water table, a “be a drop of water in the water cycle” climbing structure, and a lighthouse.

2002
Funday Sunday family program began, offering special programs like cartooning, an instrument petting zoo, watercolor painting, felting, and dance.

2003
First Children’s Art Fair for young artists was held on the lawn at the pilot location. Currently, the Museum offers a Children’s Art Fair during Traverse City’s Friday Night Live.

2004
100,000th visitor came through the doors.

2005
Destination Mars national traveling exhibit helped visitors to understand the Red Planet.

Pilot location closed in preparation for the Museum’s move to donated land in Greilickville. Local businesses donated materials and labor to renovate the building.

The Mr. Rogers exhibit in partnership with Dennos Museum kept the wonder alive during the renovation.

2006
Grand Reopening in new location with new water table.

2007
Toddler Time program for youngest visitors began.

2008
Jump to Japan touring exhibit was on display in Con Foster Museum.

2009
Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes was unveiled.

2010
250,000th visitor came through the doors.

August 12, 2011
The Great Lakes Children’s Museum turned 10 years old!