The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) has a bold vision for the future which will ensure its continued impact for the next 30 years and beyond. Visitation, which has increased three times in the past decade necessitates physical, digital, experiential and educational expansion in order to better serve our community. The role of our Museum has transitioned from archival storage, interpretation and display to a dynamic educational community center that welcomes and represents all of its users.
Grand River Access For All
The Museum plans to enhance its outdoor exhibit space to include event space, hands-on science stations, river access, and new educational opportunities along the improved walkways and trails.
The Museum’s current Cook Carousel Pavilion which houses the 1928 Spillman Carousel, an icon of both the Museum and downtown Grand Rapids, will be transformed into a fully accessible space both inside and out. The focal point of the design will be the Carousel itself, showcasing the beauty of this nearly 100-year-old working artifact. Upgrades will be made to the Pavilion structure to detach it from the Museum’s main facility to allow for accessible trail connection along the riverfront. The addition of ramps that allow for self-propulsion both inside and outside of the pavilion will create universal access around and into the Carousel for viewing opportunities of the Grand River. The Carousel’s walkway roof will become accessible from the inside of the Museum, allowing for a new outdoor viewing experience of the Grand River and Spillman Carousel from a second-story perspective.
Renovated and Expanded Van Andel Museum Center
The reimagined Van Andel Museum Center will enhance the multisensory visitor experience and accommodate growing attendance.
Outdoor space will provide a welcoming approach to the Museum featuring a park-like lawn with artifact displays, seating, and a connection to the riverfront trail.
Two additional elevators will ensure that the growing number of visitors to the Van Andel Museum Center can easily explore all three floors whatever their mobility needs.
Community Archives and Research Center Renovation
Approximately 95% of the GRPM’s collections, over a quarter-million artifacts and specimens, are preserved at the Community Archives and Research Center. The GRPM plans to renovate a portion of the Community Archives and Research Center into a new public space.
Located less than a mile from the main Museum, the Community Archives and Research Center is the GRPM’s secure, climate-controlled collections storage facility.
Operational Management + Long-Term Sustainability
With programming and operations expanding to serve a growing segment of the region’s residents, students, and organizations, the GRPM will need to invest in innovative technologies, new program development, human resources, and operations systems.
Core Exhibit Upgrade
Several of the Museum’s core exhibition spaces will be refreshed and reimagined. The exhibit upgrades will be designed in partnership with the community, especially cultural and indigenous groups, to ensure that new exhibitions honor the region’s cultural history and are accessible to all.
The expansion will be the Museum’s first major renovation since the location opened in 1994, and plays an integral part in a of a series of renovations planned along the Grand River. Additionally, expansion funding supports the space to serve twice as many learners through educational programming.
On Monday, October 30, the Grand Rapids Public Museum celebrated the start of its $50 million expansion project. Leaders like Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and State Senator Mark Huizenga joined in a ceremonial signing of a piece of the construction that will make up the new riverfront.
In the News.
Frequently Asked Questions.
GRPM is a non-profit organization that relies on public and private funding to fulfill its mission to be a living monument of artifacts, ideas, and stories told through exhibitions, events, and educational programming. GRPM’s Expanding Curiosity Capital Campaign lays the groundwork for the Museum to grow into a state of the art, universally accessible cultural institution for global learning for the next 30 years and more.
In 2020, GRPM released the results of an economic impact study. The study was conducted by Grand Valley State University and shows the GRPM Expansion will generate an economic impact of $32.2 million which supports 310 jobs in addition to $43.8 million in economic impact during construction.
Thank you for your past and continuing support of the GRPM! Our Expanding Curiosity Campaign funds are separate from our operating funds, and both membership and annual fund gifts are essential for our day-to-day operations during construction and after the completion of this project. This Campaign gives our supporters a unique opportunity to secure the Museum’s legacy for future generations.
The timeline for the Museum’s renovations and expansion is still being determined. Updates will be provided on the GRPM’s website and social media channels as the project progresses.
Owen Ames Kimball, TowerPinkster, and VIRIDIS Design Group have been retained to work on the renovation and expansion. The retained companies went through the City of Grand Rapids vetting process and were chosen by the City of Grand Rapids.
Yes, GRPM will remain open during the renovations. During construction, some exhibits or areas may be temporarily closed or relocated. Visitors should check the Museum’s website for the most up-to-date information.
The GRPM’s current exhibits may be temporarily relocated or modified to accommodate the renovations. The GRPM will continue to provide engaging exhibits and programming throughout the renovations.
Funds from the Expanding Curiosity Campaign will provide flexibility for the GRPM to add positions in accordance with the organization’s new business plan. Operational investments will ensure the GRPM has the capacity to program the new Museum spaces and outdoor areas, creating increased impact on the region. New and larger spaces will allow for additional earned revenue from outside rentals.
The renovations and expansion will create a more dynamic and engaging GRPM experience for visitors of all ages, while also improving the Museum’s accessibility and sustainability. It will double the number of students the GRPM serves per year from 30,000 to 60,000. The project will also support the local economy by creating jobs and stimulating tourism.