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Museums, Cultural Centers & Historical Societies

West Michigan’s many museums, cultural centers, and historical societies dedicate themselves to cataloging and promoting history in fun and unique ways. The main goal of these organizations is to help their communities and visitors from all over learn something new each and every time they visit.

 

If you visited downtown St. Joseph this summer, you may have noticed that the Krasl Art Center yard was undergoing a major face-lift. This $1.7 million project, known as Sculpting Community, is the third major renovation project since the building’s genesis in 1979. After years of improving the lives of its community, the Krasl Art Center is thrilled to invite you this new, historic project, providing residents and visitors a space to come together and connect with nature, art, and each other.

The Heritage Museum & Cultural Center in St. Joseph prides itself in sharing stories about the community. This museum houses the area’s history, its artifacts, and an archival collection, alongside a research library. It presents stories in spacious exhibit halls and creates new memories in elegant banquet facilities. Come journey into the area’s past, see the present, and receive a deeper understanding and thrill at the possibilities for the future.

The Holland Museum tells the stories and history of the both the Holland area and of the greater West Michigan area. By promoting engagement and change instead of simply dictating information, the Holland Museum has been creating a community with a better and brighter future. Upcoming events in November include a skills workshop to teach the skills of Holland’s early settlers and a landing party for the Mars Lander!

The Harbor Springs History Museum, home of the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society, is located in the former city hall building. As the first of two permanent exhibits, the Local History Gallery guides visitors through a multi-layered chronology of the Harbor Springs region. The Discovery Gallery is the second of these permanent exhibit spaces and is filled with hands-on activities for children and their families or teachers. Serving as the museum’s temporary exhibit spaces, the main and north galleries host both traveling exhibits and temporary exhibits from the HSAHS collection.

Historic Charlton Park is located in the Hastings area, and features a recreated, turn-of-the-century historic village and the Irving D. Charlton Memorial Museum. The museum is open until December, giving you plenty of time to stop by yet this year.

LowellArts began with the enthusiasm of community volunteers and funds raised through a visit to Lowell by Artrain USA in November 1976. Originally called the Lowell Area Arts Council, the organization was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1977. In September 1977, LowellArts became the sponsor of the Fallasburg Arts Festival, a two-day outdoor art and music celebration. Today, LowellArts is creating their own space in downtown Lowell with the help of individual community donations and the Lowell Area Community Fund.

The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper has been transporting people between Muskegon and Milwaukee since 1941. In 1904, the Erie & Western Transportation Company, better known now as the Anchor Line, commissioned a 361-foot passenger and package freight steamer. After years of traveling the waterways of the United States, the vessel found a home in Lake Michigan. On June 2nd, 1941, her name was changed to S.S. Milwaukee Clipper. After a long hiatus that included name changes, new locations, and different owners, the ship returned to Muskegon. Today, the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper stays put in Muskegon Lake as a national landmark and museum.

The Tri-Cities Historical Museum has been cataloging Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg history for visitors to the area. The museum is made up of comprehensive exhibits that cover many different eras of the area’s past, from prehistoric rocks and fossils to common dry goods shop from 1940s Grand Haven. Each exhibit is housed within a structure accurate to the time it represents. Inside many of the exhibits, learners of all ages are often invited to touch and explore recreations of artifacts in order to make history more relatable.

The Coopersville Area Historical Society was founded in 1980 to preserve area history for the enrichment of both visitors and local residents. During the Historical Society’s early days, its members met in the town’s former interurban railway depot. In 1987, the Historical Society acquired use of the building from the City of Coopersville. The facility was then open seasonally as a museum with some regular and special exhibits. The historical society and museum continue to support the community with education and preservation.