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Former public museum building


GrSportsGuy

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I believe the no-longer-public museum still uses that building for collections storage.

and thats the sad part of it :( its really medium-high demand land in that area, the Museum should consider moving its collections to a new building, somewhere on the west side.

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One day I dream that the Public Museum realize its mistake and move back into the old building.

Seriously, they could have expanded the old museum easily to the size the new one is now.

Thats always going to be a dream. I don't think they will ever move from their current spot for a long time.

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I have always liked the new building, it is modern, large and it is a beautiful building. What I have always been disappointed with is that I don't feel it was ever used to its potential. I would like to see some of the items is storage come out into public view; I think we would all be amazed at what there is. I remember the first time I went to the new building and thought, "wow, for such a big building, there is not much stuff on display, kind of a waste of money".

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I have always liked the new building, it is modern, large and it is a beautiful building. What I have always been disappointed with is that I don't feel it was ever used to its potential. I would like to see some of the items is storage come out into public view; I think we would all be amazed at what there is. I remember the first time I went to the new building and thought, "wow, for such a big building, there is not much stuff on display, kind of a waste of money".

Exactly my feeling, I miss the denseness of the displays in the old building.

Had to keep turning in order to not miss something good. Now everything

is so ordered, I don't have that same sense of discovery.

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It seems like I remember there was a movement at one time to get everything out of the old museum into the new one, but I don't know what happened to it. I think it was spearheaded by a developer who wanted the property for something.

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Exactly my feeling, I miss the denseness of the displays in the old building.

Had to keep turning in order to not miss something good. Now everything

is so ordered, I don't have that same sense of discovery.

I too miss the old bulding/layout/exhibits. I've been to the new museum a few times. Doesn't feel like a museum to me for some reason.

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Let me add my voice to those who miss the old museum. That place held a lot of memories for me, especially the great animal dioramas on the first floor, the big relief map of Michigan (with Grand Rapids worn off) on the stairway landing, the whale skeleton (removed to great uproar about 1970), the old planetarium, the first Gaslight Village, etc. etc. It seemed like an old friend.

I would hate to see this building, which is an excellent example of "WPA Moderne," torn down. There must be some public use for it. That is a great neighborhood, and it deserves something good.

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As far as I know, there are no plans to tear it completly down (the portion that used to house the Gaslight Village is gone) . They are using it just as a records archive; not a public building as it was built for. BTW, there is a book out which traces the history of the GR Museum, it is very interesting, and has some good photos of the old building, apparently it was the newest in museum design when it was constructed.

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They actually added onto that building 4 or 5 years ago to expand the archive section, I think.

The back half of the museum was acutally torn down several years ago, and as Dad pointed out, was replaced by a new section. The front half remains intact. I think it's a joint archive for GR and Kent County. I thought it was to be opened to the public?

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It is the Community Archives & Research Center.

They had open tours of the storage area last May. It was amazing to see how much stuff they have.

From the GR Museum web page:

"The Community Archives and Research Center is a multi-governmental, county-wide public collections center that will have space for governmental records, documents, and the Public Museum's historic, cultural and natural history collections. The facility itself is a combination of new construction and a sensitive adaptive re-use of an existing historical structure, originally constructed in the 1930s as the City's public museum in downtown Grand Rapids. The $20 million center totaling approximately 145,000 sq.ft. will have a public reading room, theatre, secure rooms for inspecting artifacts, collection and document storage."

The Community Archive also has a separate page

www.communityarchive.org

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I remember going to the old museum one of the last years it was open when I was in grade school. The old planetarium was great. In fact I've never even been in the new planetarium. I'm glad to hear that they are still using the old building for archives/records. Perhaps they could create some sort of linkage with the Grand Rapids Public Library and make the old museum the place for local history and maybe bring back in some of the GR related exhibits back in. In order for the VA to become a legit landmark museum it needs to expand both physically and in terms of offering. I agree with the thought that when you first walk in, it doesn't even feel like a museum, even though the building itself is very nice and is quite picturesque being situated right on the river.

A great museum collection and design (*cough* GRAM) such as classical-style Field or Science and Industry mueseums in Chicago, can really help to lift up a city.

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I remember going to the old museum one of the last years it was open when I was in grade school. The old planetarium was great. In fact I've never even been in the new planetarium. I'm glad to hear that they are still using the old building for archives/records. Perhaps they could create some sort of linkage with the Grand Rapids Public Library and make the old museum the place for local history and maybe bring back in some of the GR related exhibits back in. In order for the VA to become a legit landmark museum it needs to expand both physically and in terms of offering. I agree with the thought that when you first walk in, it doesn't even feel like a museum, even though the building itself is very nice and is quite picturesque being situated right on the river.

A great museum collection and design (*cough* GRAM) such as classical-style Field or Science and Industry mueseums in Chicago, can really help to lift up a city.

J3 - Great post. I think the old museum would be a GREAT place to house local history related 'stuff'. Granted, if I were a visitor not local to GR and were to visit the public museum, I'd want to see it there, too; possibly have dual displays/exhibits. I think a huge museum for local GR history in the old museum would be great. (I guess you'd have to do some sort of study to see what kind of interest there'd be. I'm sure most on this board would love it :thumbsup: - It's just that Joe Public probably wouldn't find their way down there.)

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