The Chicago Children's Museum is located at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1982 by The Junior League of Chicago who were responding to programming cutbacks in the Chicago Public Schools. Originally housed in two hallways of the Chicago Public Library, it soon began to offer trunk shows and traveling exhibits in response to capacity crowds on-site.
The museum moved a number of times over its initial years of existence while it continued to search for a permanent home. In 1995, the Museum thought it found that home when it reopened as an anchor tenant at Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. The new facility offered 57,000 square feet (5,300 m2) of exhibition space and included three floors of educational exhibits, public programs and special events.
Upon the move to the Pier, the expansion made it the fourth largest children's museum in the United States. The museum serves more than 650,000 people, both at its Navy Pier location and in communities in and around Chicago, each year. While the Museum has an admission charge, it currently provides free admission to children 15 and under each Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and all-day on the first Sunday of each month.