If you want to be immersed in Michigan history, then look no further than the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. Its floors track the fascinating life and career of President Ford, and were dedicated to him in name on September 6, 1987. He and his wife Betty were interred side-by-side at the museum after they passed away.
The Museum is not to be confused with the state’s presidential library, which is all the way over in Ann Arbor! Museum guests will see artifacts and memorabilia from key events for America, like the push for energy independence, revamping the intelligence agencies, and the country’s first spacecraft landing on Mars.
The Ford Presidential Museum has become an important centerpiece in the Grand Rapids community. Last year’s $13 million renovation is definitely evidence of that! The remodel has brought the museum to life, complete with a full-scale replica of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. The Museum has made it a point to reinvent itself regularly, bringing in new technology to show the history in unique and engaging ways.
If you have the chance to visit Grand Rapids, make a stop at the Presidential Museum to see:
- Art and movies: Local and traveling photographers frequently host gallery shows—a unique social activity during the work week. The museum is also a hosting site for the annual ArtPrize competition, showcasing indoor and outdoor art, and participating in other shows throughout the year. Its 250-seat auditorium doubles as a comfy movie theater, showing documentaries and full films about a wide range of topics. The next screening is The Vietnam War on October 17.
- Interactive lecture series: The Presidential Museum invites visitors to the grounds for special presentations, panels and workshops. They encourage direct guest participation as they explore certain politics-related topics. Beer enthusiasts can have the opportunity to speak with West Michigan brewmasters, talk about their craft, and sip on some craft. Another upcoming event discusses the blend of rock and politics with live listening sessions.
- Community fundraising: Finally, Ford actively organizes and serves as a venue for big fundraiser efforts that directly benefit the city. Blood and food drives are common, but they also have larger-scale projects. The museum and its partners raised thousands for the crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s most advanced aircraft carrier. In this respect, the Presidential Museum is a very positive force for Grand Rapids, and West Michigan.
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