Behind the public display: History Club discovers museum annex


The Grand Rapids Public Museum Annex houses the largest collection of historical wardrobe in Michigan. 

Story by Alyssa Noch, Reporter
Photo Courtesy of Alyssa Noch

Only 10% of the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s artifacts are on display for the public to see. The museum itself has collected close to a million or more donated artifacts from people with connections to the Grand Rapids area. 90% of these artifacts are not on display for the general public. So, how does someone get to see all that a museum like this has to offer? Surprisingly, it is as simple as going on a field trip with Aquinas College’s History Club, advised by Professor Charles Gunnoe.

The field trip was free of charge and involved members of the club meeting at the Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center parking lot at 2:40 p.m. to drive over to the museum on Nov. 30, 2016. The club’s destination was the Grand Rapids Public Museum Annex (i.e. the storage/warehouse of the other 90% of the museum’s goods).

Since the number of people who went was small, being only seven, all of them piled onto the van belonging to Professor Gunnoe. Once at the annex, they met with one of the two curators who gave them a tour of the storage area and a run down of the inner workings of the museum. Aquinas students were taken deep into their warehouse to see the artifact receiving area, which is the place where workers at the museum examine new artifacts and document them. They also got to see the furniture gallery, as Grand Rapids houses some of the world’s top furniture companies. Also seen was the largest historical wardrobe in Michigan followed by the taxidermy section in the basement, right next to the different modes of transportation. The  students were able to see all of this by 4:30 p.m.

Students wished the trip had been longer, but were content knowing they could return as interns, volunteers, or people on a tour to see it all again. As college interns or volunteers, students are able to interact more with the artifacts in the collection. The museum has a multitude of jobs set up for students, they only need apply. Some of their work would be cataloging their collection since they are backlogged on the digital documentation of their items. This involves taking pictures of the artifacts and uploading them online for the public to see. For more details on volunteer and internship opportunities at the museum, go to

Aquinas’s History Club has seen three museums in total this semester. If you would like to attend these trips, please contact Professor Gunnoe.

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