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'Outbreak' exhibit to open at Grand Rapids Public Museum

Learn about COVID-19, and pandemics of the past, at the new exhibit opening this weekend at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As we live during a pandemic, we’ve been learning more than we ever imagined about the spread of disease, and how to keep ourselves and others safe. 

That’s the focus of a new exhibit opening at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, this weekend. 

Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, has panels and videos explaining how pathogens can spread to people from wildlife and livestock, and why some outbreaks become epidemics.

The Smithsonian created the exhibit in 2018, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

It covers outbreaks such as Zika, Ebola and Influenza, and GRPM is offering it with added information on the current pandemic.

The museum is also incorporating people’s experiences from right here in West Michigan.

“We have a video in there that really highlights the stories that the community has been sharing with us,” said Christie Bender, the GRPM director of marketing. “Right now, as we're actively collecting, we are gathering photos and videos and written stories about how this pandemic has affected the daily lives of people in our community. And we want everybody’s stories.”

The museum is documenting people’s experiences, not only to share with the community right now, but also for future generations. 

If you’d like to share your story with GRPM, fill out the form on the museum’s website.  

The exhibition is in English and Spanish, and will be on display from Saturday, August 1, through Sunday, October 18. 

“Our goal is when visitors walk out of this new Outbreak exhibit, is they feel more confident in their knowledge about outbreaks and pandemics, and steps they can do to protect themselves or make informed decisions of how to limit their risk, or the risk of their family, friends and community,” said Cory Redman, the GRPM science curator.

Redman researched and wrote some of the additional panel information in the exhibit, on COVID-19.

The new exhibit is included in general admission, and Kent County residents get reduced admission, and it’s free for kids 17 and under in the county.

Be sure to buy your ticket in advance, since museum entry is now contactless. 

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