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GRPM Collections

The GRPM boasts one of Michigan’s largest collections of historical and cultural artifacts and scientific specimens that tell the stories of West Michigan and the wider world. With the size of the GRPM Collections, only approximately 5% can be on display for the public at a time, and approximately 95% are stored at the Community Archives and Research Center. You can view many of these objects on the GRPM’s online database. More are added every day.

Discover
Culture.

Experience
History.

Encounter
Science.

Research

The GRPM strives to make its Collections as accessible as possible to all. GRPM curators work with researchers from all over the world assisting with queries related to history, science and culture.

Donate

The GRPM’s Collections are always growing. If you have items that you think the Museum might be interested in, contact us and learn how to donate items to the Museum and help preserve the community’s history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some collecting priorities will never change. Objects that inspire curiosity and facilitate
learning will always have a place in the GRPM’s collections. The following priorities help us
focus our collecting on specific institutional goals:

  • Grand River Watershed
    As the GRPM continues to develop closer physical connections to the Grand River and the
    accompanying exhibits and programs to interpret if new objects are needed.
  • Natural Science
    For the first time in decades the GPRM has begun to inventory and assess its natural science
    collections under the direction of a Science Curator. This work has begun to reveal more
    details about the strengths and gaps of the natural science collections.
  • Anishinabek
    In the late 1980s and early 1990s the GRPM worked with Native people all over Michigan to
    proactively collect oral histories as well as modern and historic artifacts to tell their story in
    the “Anishinabek: The People of this Place” exhibit. This exhibition is now a generation old,
    and it is time to begin the process of re-imagining it with our Native partners.

It takes considerable time and resources to catalog and preserve artifacts so the GRPM has
to be selective. Some reasons items are refused include: the material is outside the scope of
the GRPM Collection or the material is similar to something already in the Collection.

GRPM is home to the Grand Rapids Press archive and is not taking newspapers at this time.

GRPM is considered by the IRS to be an “Interested Party,” and is not able to determine
the value of antiques. For that, you would need to hire an appraiser. We recommend that
you work with an appraiser who has been certified by either the Appraisers Association of
America or the American Society of Appraisers.

The professional organization for conservators (American Institute for Conservation) offers
a free online referral service “Find A Professional.

Due to the high volume of items GRPM manages, items mailed without prior warning or
left at GRPM may be disposed of or transferred as the Museum determines appropriate,
without contacting the sender.

GRPM does not consider unsolicited objects for temporary loan.

Community Archives and Research Center

The Community Archives and Research Center is a research and storage facility which houses the Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Museum as well as the Grand Rapids City Archives and Record Center and many Kent County records. The CARC is located at 223 Washington Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Getting There

The Rapid, Grand Rapid’s broad bus transit system, connects downtown to locations like East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Wyoming, Walker, and even the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

For more on The Rapid, visit ridetherapid.org or download the myStop or Transit app from your app store.

Remember: Both The Rapid and DASH are committed to accessibility, catering to wheelchairs, scooters, and service animals.

Collections Donors Fiscal Year 2023

Carousel Update.

The Spillman Carousel is currently closed while we are undergoing riverfront construction. The Carousel will re-open Spring of 2025.

Carousel Update.

The Spillman Carousel is currently closed while we are undergoing riverfront construction. The Carousel will re-open Spring of 2025.

Carousel Update

The 1928 Spillman Carousel is closed while we undergo riverfront construction. The carousel will re-open in the Spring of 2025.