This post originally appeared at ChooseChicago.com, where I am a contributing writer.
Chicago is home to many wonderful world-class, historic museums, filled to the brim with amazing cultural finds from near and far. Yet you'll also find smaller, more eclectic museumsthat are off the beaten tourist path yet just as interesting. We have a quirky, mini-museum in our Logan Square neighborhood, the only one of its kind in the world: The Busy Beaver Button Co. and Button Museum stands as the world's only button museum!
Located within the company headquarters, this small yet charming museum displays 9,000 historical buttons.
Since its beginnings in 1995, Busy Beaver Button Co. has gone from a one-woman operation — started by Christen Carter in her college apartment in 1995 — to a leader in the button industry. Four million buttons later, Busy Beaver produces custom buttons made of metal, wood and even 24-karat gold! Every custom button is made with solar power from recycled steel in their geothermal heated/cooled headquarters.
Busy Beaver's clients include everyone from individuals to large corporations and cultural institutions, from the Brooklyn Brewery to the The Art Institute of Chicago. "Someone has to care enough to wear a button on their body," shares Carter. "Buttons showcase a deeper connection to advertising."
Busy Beaver celebrated its 15th anniversary by unveiling the The Busy Beaver Button Museum within its production facility in 2010. Over 9,000 historical buttons are on display in this free museum. You can also see button manufacturing in action, as all of the company's buttons are produced onsite, and largely by hand. The museum's most valuable button is likely the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit button from 1929. There seems to be a button for every television show, movie, product, and even presidential candidate from past and present.
Busy Beaver employees are on hand to answer any questions you might have, and you can even make a button of your very own upon request. The museum is also open to hosting group tours and even children's button making workshops, both available upon request.
Can't make it to the museum just yet? Check out Busy Beaver's online button museum buttonmuseum.org, or head to busybeaver.net and customize a set of buttons of your very own.
Busy Beaver Button Co. and Museum is located at 3279 W. Armitage Ave. in Chicago'sLogan Square neighborhood. Check the website for hours (usually weekdays 10am-4pm) and more info, or call (773) 645-3359.
Head to Busy Beaver via the Blue Line L train. Exit at the California stop and enjoy wholesome, homemade eats from Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits (2051 N. California) or fried chicken and a fish fry basket from Parson's Chicken & Fish (2952 W. Armitage). Another option for a scenic route: Exit the Blue Line at the Western stop, start your adventure with Costa Rican fare at Irazu (1865 N. Milwaukee) and walk west on The 606 elevated trail.