FAQ

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has been building its Collection of 250,000 artifacts and specimens since 1854. Although some of these objects were purchased with fundraising campaigns, at auctions or collected by curators in the field, most of them were donated to the Museum by the people of West Michigan.

The Collections and Preservation Department is always accepting new objects for the Museum's Collections. If you have something that you would like to donate, please contact our staff BEFORE you bring your donation to the Museum.

  • Always make arrangements with Museum staff BEFORE bringing your donation to the Museum. We have special procedures and legal paperwork that must be filled out to document all donations.
  • Donation offers are reviewed periodically by Museum staff. Please note, we cannot possibly accept every donation that is offered. Museum staff will notify potential donors whether or not their donation has been accepted.
  • Because the Grand Rapids Public Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donations accepted are tax-deductible. Donors are responsible for establishing the value of their donation for tax purposes, the Museum cannot provide appraisals or recommend specific appraisers.

If you have a research question that you think the Museum might be able to answer, please contact us. Please be sure to provide us with your name, your contact information and the details of your question.

  • Collections staff can answer questions about specific objects in the Museum's Collection.
  • Collections staff will attempt to answer questions about objects you own based on information in the Museum's Collections.
  • Collections staff can provide you with basic conservation and preservation information about how to keep your own artifacts and family treasures safe.
  • The Museum does NOT have a conservator on staff, and does not do restoration work for the general public.
  • Museum staff does NOT appraise objects, nor can we recommend specific appraisers. If you have an object you would like appraised, you can start by contacting one of the national professional organizations of appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers and the Appraisers Association of America.

Access to Collections for research is by appointment only. To set up a research appointment, contact us. Please be sure to provide us with your name, your contact information and details about your research project. The majority of research appointments will take place at the Grand Rapids Public Museum's Collections storage facility, the Community Archives and Research Center (CARC). CARC is located less than a mile from the Van Andel Museum Center, at 223 Washington Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (map).

  • Researchers can access many objects from the Museum's Collections. Interested researchers should begin by searching this website for specific objects related to their project.
  • Researchers must sign a "Research and Access Agreement" which ensures compliance with the Museum's policies for the payment of all fees, proper citations in published works and any applicable copyright laws.
  • Museum staff will determine which objects can be studied safely based on several factors including the object's condition, sensitivity to handling and value.

The Museum's Collection of more than 250,000 objects is far too large to be exhibited all at one time. The Museum rotates Collections to show the greatest number of objects to the public, and to preserve fragile items that can be damaged by long - term exhibition. Many items owned by the Museum are used for public programs, loaned to other museums, or used by researchers and authors when they are not on display. Some objects are important to preserve for research, but are too fragile for exhibition.