$4 million more for museum expansion

Historic Spillman Carousel still out of commission until updates complete
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Artist's rendering of the Grand Rapids Public Museum new riverfront facade, part of an ongoing expansion project. Photo courtesy of GRPM.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has secured $4 million in State funding from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. for the Museum’s $50 million expansion project. The project aims to enhance riverfront access and urban trail connectivity at its Grand River waterfront location.

“This expansion is more than just a building project; it’s a community enrichment initiative,” said GRPM President and CEO Dale Robertson. “We are not only enhancing access but also creating a space where education, culture, and nature intersect.”

On Jan. 23, the Grand Rapids City Commission approved a professional services agreement with Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. for the Museum’s next phase of expansion, the centerpiece being the development of an advanced stair and ramp system which ensures accessibility for all visitors. The project will integrate a 7.5-mile urban trail that connects with other regional trails like the White Pine Trail, Kent Trails, and the Grand River Greenway.

Construction on Museum grounds began in the fall of 2023, with completion slated for spring 2025. The Museum’s iconic 1928 Spillman Carousel is temporarily closed to facilitate construction, including the removal of an internal walkway to the carousel pavilion. This closure will ultimately allow for an open exterior path and seamless connection to the Greenway trail system, with the Carousel reopening with expanded access in 2025.

Funded in part by Kent County taxpayers through a 10-year millage (2016), the Grand Rapids Public Museum, located at at 272 Pearl Street, NW., offers three floors of exhibits, the region’s only planetarium, extensive educational offerings, and protection of The Mounds, a National Historic Landmark. The public is encouraged to participate in the expansion’s development.

For additional information including hours of operation, admission fees including Kent County discounts, and exhibit/event listings, visit grpm.org.

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