Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago was founded in 1985 as an extension of the Kohl Teaching Center in Wilmette, one of four such centers in Illinois and Israel conceived by Dolores Kohl in 1972 and supported by the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation. Offering creative methods of enhancing traditional approaches to teaching, Kohl Teaching Centers provided training and educational resources to teachers and helped them incorporate hands-on experiences into their classrooms. Kohl Children’s Museum was founded to continue reaching educators and extend its service to meet the growing needs of families and the community at large through interactive exhibits and hands-on programs.
In 1998, Sheridan Turner became the Museum’s president and CEO and Dolores Kohl stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the Museum, expressing a strong desire for the Museum to be funded by the community that had come to rely on its services. With new leadership in place, the Museum’s Board of Trustees, led by Board Chairman Frederick H. Waddell of Northern Trust, conceived and realized plans for a new facility in Glenview, just five miles from the original Wilmette location, which opened to the public in 2005.