The founders of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Georgia Woodrick Gietzen, Alyce Greeson, Carla Morris, and Aleicia Woodrick, were inspired by their children and grandchildren. They saw a need for regular, creative, hands-on play. Founded on the beliefs that play is a child’s work and children learn best when they direct their own learning, these women set about to create a place with a sole focus on young children. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, a “Museum Without Walls,” debuted in August 1993 at Woodland Shopping Center. In the winter of 1994, the Museum found a home at 11 Sheldon Avenue. The building was selected and donated by Bob and Aleicia Woodrick and Jim and Shirley Balk. After much renovation, the Museum opened its doors on July 31st, 1997.
On July 31st 2012, the museum celebrated its 15th year. Over the past fifteen years, the GRCM has served more than 2,000,000 children and their grown-ups from all over the world. The Museum has an annual operating budget that has grown to more than $1 million. In 2006, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum celebrated record-breaking attendance, serving more than 180,000 visitors. The GRCM has been a recipient of the Art Serve Michigan’s Governor’s Award and recently was recognized by the Association of Children’s Museum as one of the most innovative Children’s Museums in the country.