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.

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

Hired our first Executive Director.

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.

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

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.

100,000th visitor came through the doors.

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.

Grand Reopening in new location with new water table.

Toddler Time program for youngest visitors began.

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

Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes was unveiled.

250,000th visitor came through the doors.

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

July 2, 2014
Attendance record – 724 attended on a cold, rainy day.

July 15, 2014
Attendance record – 804 attended on a cold, rainy day.

August 12, 2014
911 turned out for the Museum’s 13th birthday… (OR… the rain and cold made for another record attendance day).