Museum reflects on history in collection display


The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) will look back at its history through a collection of slides in a new program.

Two presentations of “A Rare Glimpse into the Past: Magic Lantern Slides from the GRPM Collections” will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26, in the museum’s Meijer Theater, at 272 Pearl St. NW in Grand Rapids.

The 45-minute program will highlight the museum’s collection of magic lantern slides and its photographic processes, including hand-tinting, toners and vignettes.

The magic lantern slides were used in GRPM’s educational outreach program between the 1920s and 1970s. Local teachers were able to check out projectors and slides from the museum for their classes. Slides include scripts on various topics such as Michigan views of the 1920s, Michigan mammals, General Motors, canoeing down the Muskegon River and lumbering in Michigan.

The slides depict local and international scenes, many with hand-colored embellishments to bring the photograph to life.

“We are pleased to offer this special presentation to the public to give them an inside look at our collections while also providing an exclusive and in-depth experience with an artifact that has deep ties to the museum’s institutional history,” said Alex Forist, GRPM chief curator and vice president of collections. “Magic lantern slides offer a rare glimpse into how a nontraditional educational institution has taught generations of students about history, science and culture, and this presentation is an opportunity for history and photography enthusiasts to experience primary-source learning in a unique setting.”

More information is available here.

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