The Van Andel Museum Center is the principal public facility of the Public Museum. The Van Andel Museum Center, which opened in November 1994, is an education/entertainment center and West Michigan’s premier heritage museum facility. The building is named in honor of its Capital Campaign Chairman, Jay Van Andel, who together with his wife Betty contributed $3,000,000 to the campaign. In an overwhelming indication of support for the Museum, more than 22,000 individuals contributed to help fund the construction, and their names are listed on the exterior pillars at the main entrance.
Built on the site of the old Voigt Crescent Flour Mill on the west bank of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, the Museum Center’s facade of burnt-orange and red brick was a style commonly used in 19th century Grand Rapids, and replicates the architectural heritage of Dutch immigrants. The overall structural design of the building calls to mind the mills and furniture factories that once captured the waterpower of the Grand River rapids, which started upstream approximately a mile.
Van Andel Museum Center has 80,000 square feet of permanent exhibits space and is capable of hosting major traveling exhibitions each year in a 9,500 square foot changing exhibit gallery.
The building’s design on the east, or river side, employs natural light as a major architectural element, while on the west side the exhibit galleries are windowless, to protect Museum collections and exhibitions from the long-term degradation of sunlight. The large windows on the east frame the historic Grand River and bring bright natural light into the Galleria and cafe during the day. At night, the windows provide an intriguing view into the glowing interior of the Van Andel Museum Center, with the distinctively lit whale skeleton and carousel readily seen from adjacent bridges as well as other vantage points on the east bank of the river.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum is a multi-site institution with various affiliated locations around West Michigan. Click on a site below for more information: