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.

Expanding Access.

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.

Carousel Pavilion

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.

Expanding Experiences.

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.

Expanding Accessibility.

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.

Expanding Sustainability.

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.

To learn more about the project or how you can get involved please contact Kelli Jo Peltier at or 616.929.1733