In 1982, the Chicago Children's Museum was founded by the Junior League of Chicago, because of learning programs being cut back within the public school system. When the museum first opened its doors, it consisted of two hallways located in the Chicago Public Library. Because the museum drew such large crowds, organizers put together a series of traveling trunk shows that made visits to schools, other libraries and neighborhoods all over Chicago.
As part of an expansion program in 1986, the museum moved to an alternate location a 7,000 square foot Chicago Park District Facility. Then in 1989, as part of a five year plan, the Chicago Children's Museum moved to an even larger 21,000 square foot location inside a renovated warehouse. Since moving to the new site, the museum has built up its exhibits, programs, educational facilities and fundraising headquarters.
In October of 2005, the Chicago Children's Museum expanded its headquarters to include a 57,000 square foot facility located at Navy Pier. The new location was a springboard for the museum to be able to make an important contribution to the education of children. The facility has three stories of interactive exhibits, educational displays and special events designed to appeal to the needs of its diverse visitors.
There are programs designed to appeal to every age group from pre-kindergarten and up. There is the Pritzker Playspace, the Kraft's Artsbound Studio, Treehouse Trail and Kidtown. Each area has something to support the developmental needs of young children. On Kraft Family Tree Night and Tales for Tots, parents and children are invited to participate in an active story telling hour. Also offered on Kraft Family Tree Night is a Taking Care program, which teaches children ages 2 and up how to take care of themselves, their pets and families.
The Chicago Children's Museum also offers an Arts Learning Program. The program is offered year-round and offers parents and children the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get messy, all under the watchful eye of museum educators and artists from around the world. It is designed to allow parents and children to collaborate and learn about the diverse art forms in the world today.
There are also several different exhibits that are interchanged throughout the year. The special exhibits are offered at certain times of the year and draw in thousands of parents and children. Such special exhibits include; the Secret of Circles and Snow Much Fun. Permanent exhibits in the museum include; Play it Safe, the Artbounds Gallery, BIG Backyard, the Dinosaur Expedition, the Inventing Lab, Kids on the Fly, Kids Town, Kovler Family Flying Schooner, My Museum, Skyline, Treehouse Trails and Waterways. The Chicago Children's Museum is an internationally renowned institution that is devoted to advance the learning and development of children and each year continues to touch the lives of children from all over the world.
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