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GRPM expansion to increase access to Grand River, create more learning opportunities

The expansion will build outdoor gathering areas near the river, open up the option for tours in the museum collections and improve accessibility.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is preparing an expansion that will increase access to the Grand River, improve accessibility and repurpose the museum's artifact storage.

The project is years in the making and will be completed in two phases. 

In the first phase, the museum will add trails and gathering areas along the bank of the Grand River, which allows for community gathering places and outdoor learning areas. It will also make the Spillman Carousel accessible to all and add a new entrance on the west side of the museum. There will also be a new outdoor welcoming area and an outdoor dining option.

In addition, the museum will renovate their artifact storage facility and eventually open their collections for tours.

Through these changes, museum officials hope to enhance their programs and learning opportunities.

In the second phase of the expansion, a new south tower will be added to house laboratories and learning spaces.

Vice President of Science and Education Stephanie Ogren says the expansion will impact how visitors interact with the museum.

"The museum world really has changed. And we do business differently, we engage with people differently," said Ogren. "And we really want to be host to all of our neighbors in the public. So this gives us more space to do that in a pretty confined footprint."

The expansion will be funded through both public and private funding, as well as philanthropy. 

Museum officials are hoping for the first phase to begin this summer.

"We want, you know, everyone to feel like they're welcome at the museum," Ogren said. "Even if you don't come in and buy a ticket, you still can come down to the museum grounds, you'll learn something because everything we do has an educational component, and you'll be able to engage with this amazing riverfront."

To see the full plans for the expansion, click here.

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