Museums are found in almost all corners of the world. A lot of efforts go behind the construction of museums and collection of artifacts that give the museum its essence. America has its own share of museums, spread across the continent and calling all those people with a knack for exploring the history and all that depicts the glory of ancient times.
To fulfill the hunger of historians who will continue to occupy this planet and enlighten themselves and several others belonging to the human race, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum was established in Grand Rapids in the Kent County of Michigan state.
The museum consists of two separate buildings – The Presidential Library and the Presidential Museum. Though both these buildings are located at a distance of around 130 miles from each other, they are still considered as one single entity. While the museum is located at 303 Pearl Street Northwest, Grand Rapids, the library is at 1000 Beal Avenue, Ann Harbor.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum was opened on September 6, 1982. It is dedicated to Gerald Rudolph Ford, who served in various positions before becoming the President of the United States.
The construction of the museum began on January 7, 1976, and was completed by September 5, 1982. The funds that were invested in the construction of this structure came from donations. The joint efforts of the University of Michigan, the State of Michigan, the Gerald Ford Commemorative Committee, and the City of Grand Rapids bore fruits and over 14,000 individual donations, amounting to $11 million, allowed the authorities to erect the structure.
When Gerald Ford breathed his last on December 26, 2006, a large number of people gathered at the museum ground to pay tribute to the legendary President. The ground turned into a memorial within a few hours, as people brought flowers, flags, candles, and handwritten notes along with them. It is said that approximately 60,000 people visited the museum to see Ford’s body between the night of January 2, 2007 till the morning. After the funeral service, his body was buried in the museum grounds.
A design made by Marvin DeWinter Associates was finalized as the structure of the museum, along with an area of 4,100 square meters over which the museum is built. The overall area occupied by the museum complex is 81,000 square meters, inside which there is another museum called the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
What to Do
Apart from the artifacts stored at the museum, a wide range of temporary and permanent exhibits conducted in the premises keep the visitors amused. A whole floor is dedicated to President Ford and depicts his life and career. Other permanent exhibits of the museum include Gerald Ford’s America, Constitution in Crisis, Leadership in Diplomacy, Fort Cabinet Room, At Work in the Oval Office, and Young Jerry Ford.
Around 20,000 artifacts, apart from the exhibits, glorify the life of President Ford and his wife. Some popular artifacts from the collection are Omani Falcon, Benjamin Franklin Bust, a Pulley Plaque, Commemorative Medallion, The Bicentennial Jewel, etc.
The museum also serves as a learning center. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation supports all the exhibits, research grants, learning programs, and all other activities aimed to educate the participants.
The museum offers internship opportunities to interested candidates. The Padnos Museum Internship Program is an initiative that guides the students and helps them to acquire skills mandatory for working in a museum. Hands-on experience of categorizing, digitizing, re-housing, and volunteering in various exhibitions ensure that students turn out to become professionals who can efficiently handle the job responsibilities assigned in a museum.
If you wish to mix business with pleasure, then the Museum Main Lobby is your place to be. Here, the visitors can arrange dinners, receptions, and other events.
The auditorium at the museum is another place where an organization or an educational institute can arrange lectures, presentations, cultural events, and other programs.
The Michigan Meeting Room serves a similar purpose, where organizations can arrange business meetings and seminars. You have to book the facilities in advance and pay certain charges decided by the museum administration.
The library of the museum is a heaven for researchers. The collection of the library includes a large number of books, photographs, audio-visual material, etc.
Eat, Drink, Collect
Every trip to a historical place is incomplete if you are not able to bring back any souvenir that keeps you reminding of the beautiful time you spent there. For collectors of souvenirs, there is “Spirit of 76” at the museum, from where one can collect books, pillows, cards, jackets, caps, ties, and a wide range of other items.
Restaurants and hotels that offer both lodging and meals are available in plenty in the city area. For a night stay, the prices start from $44 and above.
Best Time to Visit
The museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. Other than these days, the museum is open all year long from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm. The library is open from 08:45 am to 04:45 pm and is closed during federal holidays.
Admission charges are applicable according to the age group a visitor belongs to. An adult has to pay $7 towards admission fee, whereas senior citizens and military service members are expected to pay $6. College students who bring along their ID can enter by paying $5, while children and teenagers from 6-18 years of age have to pay $3 for admission. Entry to children below 6 years of age is free.
The museum offers free parking to the visitors.
There is nothing wonderful as compared to visiting the past and witnessing the form of things and the lives of people that still have an impact on our lives. The Gerald R. Ford Museum is one such historical museum of America that you need to visit in order to enhance your knowledge regarding the history of the USA and treat your visual senses with an eye catching structure.