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Places to Visit in Grand Rapids, MI

The Gerald Ford Presidential Museum

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is the presidential museum and burial place. Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States (1974–1977), and his wife Betty Ford are buried in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. It’s close to Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Through the efforts of the Gerald Ford Commemorative Committee, the University of Michigan, the State of Michigan, Kent County, and the City of Grand Rapids, funds for the museum’s construction were obtained through over 14,000 individual gifts. The two-story, 44,000-square-foot (4,100-square-meter) triangle museum was designed by Marvin DeWinter Associates and cost $11 million to construct. Along the west bank of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, the museum is one of the attractions of a 20-acre (8.1 hectare) park complex that also contains the Grand Rapids Public Museum. A grand event was held on September 18, 1981, to commemorate the dedication of the structure. A 300-foot-wide (91-meter) glass wall surrounds the structure on the east side, affording a view of the river and downtown Grand Rapids beyond. A reflecting pool and fountain greet guests at the main entrance. A pedestrian bridge that spans the river connects the site to downtown hotels and shops. As part of a major building expansion completed in 1997, the core exhibits were completely redesigned, allowing for a larger program of changing feature exhibits and events.  Exhibits about President Ford’s life and work as President of the United States may be seen on the main level. Visitors may get a close look at President Ford by looking at candid photos of him interacting with his family and coworkers. Other displays, which make up the museum’s primary program, allow visitors to travel around the world with President Ford and Secretary Kissinger through video, enjoy a holographic tour of the Ford White House, and experience a day in the Oval Office via a sound and light performance. A Watergate exhibit has a six-minute multi-screen chronology of the break-in, which begins in June 1972, as well as a display of the real burglary equipment. Visitors may participate in presidential decision-making in an interactive Cabinet Room. Presents from heads of state and other international dignitaries, as well as personal gifts from the American people, are on display for visitors. In the museum auditorium, the award-winning film “A Time To Heal” is screened hourly. The museum’s lobby features a section of the Berlin Wall, which was dedicated by Ford on September 6, 1991. A series of temporary displays, in addition to the permanent exhibits, relies on the extensive collections of the Presidential library system, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, and other institutions. Approximately 20,000 objects from President Ford’s life and career are included in the museum’s holdings. The life of Mrs. Ford is also shown. Boy Scout items, head of state presents, bicentennial materials, re-election campaign materials, and apparel are among the artifacts.

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