NUNICA, Mich. – Just a few hundred feet off the 96 expressway (at the Nunica exit) sits a makeshift rare museum. It’s small, been in existence since the 1980s, and is jammed packed with memorabilia and artifacts from all facets of scouts (boy/cub/wolf/girl/brownie).
Called the France Scout Museum, it’s run by 84-year-old Bob France of Nunica. He took an old three stall garage many years ago and converted it to a museum drywalling, carpeting, and adding a furnace and alarm system. Part of Museums International, Bob boasts that he has 6,000 items (or more) and many of those items are rare enough to not even be found in the national scout museum in Texas.
Some of the more rare items include Norman Rockwell paintings from 17 different Boy’s Life magazine covers. A Rockwell silver coin collection, Rockwell Boy Scout trading stamps, and cards similar to baseball trading cards. He also has Lionel trains made for the Boy Scouts in the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of mugs and cups, neckerchief slides from boy/cub/wolf scouts, and uniforms from as early as 1917 and 1928.
Pictures of Michigan’s number one Boy Scout…Gerald Ford can be found when he was enrolled back in 1924. The France Museum also has some of the original (brand new) Boy Scout dress shoes and hiking boats with their insignia and logo embedded into the rubber sole.
Bob France became a Boy Scout in 1961, and by 1964 was a Scout Leader, a position he would hold for the next 31 years in neighboring Fruitport. You’ll also find thousands of insignias, logos, and emblems from various troops around the country. Even his walking stick is loaded with places he’s been like England, Maine, and many other locations where he’s picked one up for each jamboree he attended.
The France Scout Museum is shown by appointment only. Scouts are certainly encouraged to attend (but all are welcome) and there is no charge for admission, but donations are accepted. Contact Bob France at (616) 842-2178. There is no website for the museum, but Bob’s son Scott is co-curator and can be emailed at scott@firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is located at 12417 State Road, Nunica. Again…make sure to call or email to arrange an appointment…then enjoy!