1928 Spillman Carousel

The 1928 Spillman Carousel will close temporarily beginning January 9, 2024, to allow for significant riverfront construction and carousel pavilion access modifications.

The 1928 Spillman Carousel
on the Grand River

The Spillman Carousel is housed in the Cook Carousel Pavilion off the first floor Galleria, overlooking the Grand River. The Carousel is an iconic piece of downtown Grand Rapids and a family favorite that has welcomed millions of visitors for the last 25 years. The nearly 100-year-old artifact has been undergoing a major renovation which began in 2017, requiring the Carousel to be dismantled and rebuilt.

Carousel Origins

The Carousel was manufactured by the Spillman Engineering Company of North Tonawanda, New York in 1928 and is one of only three of its style known to have been produced by the company. It includes a Wurlitzer band organ that plays music as it revolves, and is made up of forty-four hand-carved, elaborately jeweled wooden horses, two chariots and six menagerie animals: a giraffe, whale, deer, goat, tiger and camel.

Know Before You Go

  • Capacity limited for Carousel rides. Because the 1928 Spillman Carousel is in the process of being renovated, this renovation requires monitoring. For this reason, the GRPM has limited capacity on this historic ride until the renovation is complete to ensure guest safety and proper weight limit monitoring while we update this artifact.
  • Carousel rides are free for all visitors with the purchase of a general admission ticket! Tickets must be reserved in advance. 

  • Each rider under 42” tall must have their own dedicated adult supervision with them while riding on the Carousel. All riders are required to obey every oral or written warning prior to and during their ride.

The exterior of the carousel pavilion is backlit by the late sunset. The sky is a deep blue and the inside of the pavillion is illuminated showing off the 1928 Spillman Carousel inside.

Get involved in the Renovation

Although the Carousel has reopened, there is still renovation work that needs to be done to keep this treasured artifact spinning for years to come. Through the continued generous support of the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, the GRPM has been able to launch the renovation, and additional community support is necessary to complete the project. 

The Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation will provide a 2:1 match for donations up to $300,000; for every dollar donated, the Cook Foundation will contribute $2 towards the 1928 Spillman Carousel renovation project. 

To learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Katie VanDoeselaar at 616.929.1736 or kvandoeselaar@grpm.org. 

Renovation Process

Renovations to the 1928 Spillman Carousel include mechanical and electrical upgrades, installation of 1,200 LED light bulbs, band organ repairs and initial steps toward restoring 52 horses and menagerie animals and two chariots. Upon reopening, the Carousel will be equipped with bilingual signage and instructional recordings, as well as additional communication features for those who are blind, low vision, deaf or hard of hearing. 

Ongoing and future updates include the creation of a wheelchair accessible chariot and the integration of a ramp for wheelchair access. The full renovation and restoration of the menagerie animals of the Carousel will take additional time to complete, and the Museum will continue to swap out animals to keep the Carousel running during this continued work.

Renovation Behind-the-Scenes Videos

Welcome to the captivating journey of the 1928 Spillman Carousel Renovation at the Grand Rapids Public Museum! Join us as we go behind the scenes, witnessing the meticulous restoration process and the dedicated team of experts who brought this iconic carousel back to life. Discover the secrets, artistry, and passion that went into preserving this cherished piece of history. Get ready to be mesmerized by the beauty of the carousel’s transformation in this captivating YouTube playlist.

Renovation of the 1928 Spillman Carousel is Sponsored By: