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GR Stories is an ongoing series hosted by the Grand Rapids Public Museum showcasing authentic stories from within the community.

About GR Stories

Created to dive deeper into the local community, GR Stories takes us throughout the Greater Grand Rapids to hear from the people themselves, sharing their rich history and contributions to the area. With in person and virtual options, these programs are bridges being built to better understand one another. As part of these programs, the Museum is actively collecting the stories and artifacts of our diverse community in the Collections. Programs in 2021 included: The History of Grand Rapids in Black and Brown: A Conversation, Polish Halls, and The 49507 Project.

Public Health History in Grand Rapids

 GR Stories – Public Health History in Grand Rapids Presented at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Overlook room on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, this program was free and open to the public thanks to the partnership between Grand Valley State University and grant support from Michigan Humanities. The program featured presentations from Grand Valley State University students Hannah Krebs, Callie Dzurisin, and Coltrane Bodbyl-Mast, who utilized the GRPM Collections and local archives for their research. Moderated by Grand Valley State University History Department Faculty Advisors Dr. Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin, Dr. Abigail Gautreau, and Dr. Matthew Daley, this panel aimed to spark meaningful discussion about the history of public health.

The Grand River Burial Mounds,
The Place Where Our Ancestors Rest

On March 25, 2023, the GRPM hosted a special program in the Meijer Theater featuring a presentation by Dr. Andrea Riley-Mukavetz and updates on the Grand River Burial Mounds Interpretation Initiative from Jannan Cotto. The program highlighted the partnership between GRPM, the City of Grand Rapids, and regional tribes to develop a consensus on caring for and interpreting the Grand River Burial Mounds. This important cultural site was constructed during the Middle Woodland period over 2,000 years ago and is listed on the Michigan State and National Register of Historic Places. The event provided insights into the ongoing efforts to preserve and interpret the site.

The History of Grand Rapids in Black and Brown:
A Conversation

The History of Grand Rapids in Black and Brown: A Conversation focused on the history of Grand Rapids from the perspective of Black and Brown. The presentation will feature three panelists, Dr. Randal Jelks, Dr. Todd Robinson, and Dr. Delia Fernandez. 

The 49507 Project

The 49507 Project is an artist and youth-led community celebration commissioning seven local Black and Brown artists for large scale murals on prominent buildings in majority Black and Brown neighborhoods. The Project begins with arts programming for young people, incorporates community listening sessions and summer programming, and concludes with a youth-organized community art unveiling. This is an anti-racist project by and for POC.

Polish Halls

Polish Halls have served as community gathering spaces and benevolent societies locally and nationally. This program featured a panel discussion led by Ed Sypniewski in honor of Pulaski Days to celebrate the history and heritage of the Polish community in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.

If you have stories or artifacts related to the history of Grand Rapids, we would love to know about them. Contact a GRPM Curator at