GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Van Andel Arena opened its doors to the public a little over 25 years ago. As part of their landmark West Michigan venue's anniversary celebration this year, they have donated their archives to the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.
The venue will work alongside the City Archives and Research Center, where the materials are now physically located, throughout the year to preserve and later digitize everything so it can be made available to the public via their digital collections.
“It includes video and photographs and memorabilia from... hundreds of different athletes and performers and comedians and all the different wonderful entertainers that have come to Grand Rapids to the Van Andel Arena,” said Alex Forist, the chief curator at the public museum.
“Things like bobble heads from the different Grand Rapids Griffins players, you know, different premiums and giveaways from over the years. There's a championship ring here that I think is pretty cool, from 2017.”
The City Archives holds the public museum's vast collection — over a quarter of a million items and artifacts — inside a fairly large building on Washington Street downtown.
“With a collection like this, it may seem like it's... only 25 years old; does that even belong in the museum? Well, what we know from our experiences, it's way easier to collect and to document a collection like this now when the people are still around to share their stories about it,” Forist said.