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 PREVIOUS EXHIBITIONS 

Our exhibits are ever-changing! Find past exhibitions from the last two years -- from student-curated exhibits on the mezzanine, to special feature exhibits in our small gallery, to our past annual blockbuster exhibits in Centennial Hall -- listed here. And visit regularly to catch the current exhibitions before they become "history"!

Ferrysburg: 60 Years a City (August 26, 2023 - February 11, 2024)

“Ferrysburg: 60 Years a City” is an exploration of the history of one of the lakeshore's hidden gems. With a population of 2,955 people in 2020, Ferrysburg may be the smallest of the Tri-Cities, but those people and their stories are powerful and unique. Larger-than-life figures, such as William Ferry and Hezekiah Smith, shaped Ferrysburg's past and created a legacy for the city's present. From the time it was platted as a village in 1857 to its incorporation as a city in 1963, Ferrysburg's history shows the power of individuals and communities coming together to create their own fate. In 2023, we looked back on the 60th anniversary of Ferrysburg as a city and looked ahead with excitement for what the future may bring.

Play Ball! Sports History in the Tri-Cities

May 20 - September 24, 2023

Here in the Tri-Cities, we love sports. In the summer, you can hardly take a step without seeing a match, race, or other athletic event taking place. Even in the depths of winter, residents of the Tri-Cities can be found enjoying a bit of skiing at Mulligan’s Hollow or shooting some hoops indoors at the gym. Sports have formed an important part of the social fabric of the Tri-Cities for residents in the last century and a half. This exhibition was a celebration of our area’s proud sports history from the late 1800s to the present.

Grand Haven Purple Hearts

January 2023 - February 2023

The journey to ensure 17 Grand Haven WWI soldiers received their Purple Heart medals unintentionally began in 2019 when Dr. Chris Petras, a member of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 28 Grand Haven, wanted to know more about the Post’s namesake, Charles A. Conklin. Conklin served as a machine gunner in the 42nd “Rainbow” Division. During a barrage of artillery fire by the German Army, Conklin was gravely wounded. Three days later, he died of his wounds received in action. 

 

Petras wondered if Conklin ever received a Purple Heart medal for his sacrifice. He inquired locally but couldn’t find an answer. That’s when he decided to dig deeper, researching National Archives documents, military documents, and numerous publications pertaining to the 42nd Rainbow Division, tracing Conklin’s journey across France, during WWI, to the front line. 

 

Unfortunately, it was discovered that Conklin’s military personnel files were consumed in a warehouse fire just outside St. Louis, Missouri, in 1973. It seemed Conklin’s eligibility for the Purple Heart would forever be a mystery. However, Dr. Petras remembered finding a U.S. Army document recording Charles A. Conklin’s cause of death---died of wounds received in action. Petras submitted the document, and after review by the U.S. Army, received the news that  Charles A. Conklin was eligible to receive the Purple Heart medal. Representative Bill Huizenga posthumously presented Conklin’s Purple Heart medal at a ceremony in Grand Haven in 2020. 

 

Having helped honor Conklin with the Purple Heart medal, Petras wondered if the namesake of the VFW Post 2326 Grand Haven had received a Purple Heart medal for making the supreme sacrifice for his country: Alvin F. Jonker enlisted in Company F Grand Haven in 1917 and was killed in action in 1918. Once again, Petras discovered a key document which led to Jonker receiving the Purple Heart, posthumously. 

Dr. Petras couldn’t stop there. He dug even deeper and found an additional 21 Grand Haven WWI soldiers who enlisted in Michigan National Guard Company F Grand Haven in 1917 and who were either wounded in action, died of wounds received in action or were killed in action. In his research, Petras found that four of the soldiers may have already received Purple Heart medals prior to 2000. However, 17 of the soldiers were deemed ready to submit for eligibility consideration. Following months of additional research and submissions, Petras was notified that all 17 Grand Haven WWI soldiers were eligible to receive the Purple Heart. 

The Grand Haven Purple Hearts Ceremony on January 21, 2023 is the culmination of much dedication and months of work on the histories of these 21 soldiers, and a long-overdue recognition of their sacrifice and service. Watch the video of the entire ceremony, which includes a reading of the recipients of the Purple Heart.

This Just In! Recent Acquisitions at the TCHM

August 26, 2022 - February 12, 2023

Exploring the last three years of artifact donations, the exhibit shows how and why the museum acquires new artifacts, what types of artifacts we are most interested in, and how these pieces help us fulfill our mission of “creating connections to local history.”

Travelscapes: Jon McDonald Abroad

February 25, 2022 - August 14, 2022

Artist Jon McDonald grew up in Grand Haven, but his talents with watercolor and oil paints took him around the world. This exhibition allows visitors to follow along as McDonald shares how his early life in the Tri-Cities affected his experiences of these spectacular destinations abroad. 

Classroom Curators:
Early English Colonies

February 8, 2022 - June 1, 2022

This is the first iteration of the "Classroom Curators" project, a collaboration between the TCHM and area intermediate/secondary schools. Students curate an exhibition highlighting a subject they are learning about in school, with museum staff assisting and installing the exhibit. This exhibit covers the three Early English colonies of Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth. It was curated by two 5th grade classes at White Pines Intermediate School. 

Silent Films and Speakeasies: Entertainment in the Roaring Twenties
May 20 - Oct 3, 2021

Curious about the different types of entertainment available to people in the Tri-Cities during the Jazz Age? This exhibit explored the variety of ways people spent their leisure time one hundred years ago, from the lighthearted fun of a day at the beach to the dangerous thrill of a speakeasy. Highlighted artifacts included everything from flapper dresses and card games to pianos and photographs!

From Concept to Classic Tee: 50 Years of Screen Printed Art at Marüshka
June 2021 - December 2021

Bold, iconic prints. Stretched canvases using a limited color palette. Images of plants, animals, nautical scenes, and more. Apparel featuring cheeky seagulls or watermelons printed on cotton, marrying comfort and style. When you think of Marüshka and Michigan Rag, these are the things you think of.

 

A Tri-Cities institution celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021, Marüshka innovated and evolved to meet customer interests while continuing some of the traditions and designs from its start to the present. This exhibit featured artifacts ranging from early print designs and sketchbooks to trapunto pieces, Michigan Rag garments, printing screens, and even clothing from Marüshka today.  

Finding Hezekiah
January 2022 - February 2022

This month-long mini exhibit explores the history of Hezekiah Smith, a successful Black farmer and equal rights activist who lived in the Tri-Cities from 1848/9 until his death in 1896. Discover Hezekiah through government records and historical newspaper articles, and reflect on the legacies we leave behind. 

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Highland Park

October 2020- May 2021

 

This exhibition explores the history of Highland Park from its formation in 1886 to the present. Highland Park was founded by prominent residents of the Tri-Cities to be a summer resort for the Midwest's elite. The Highland Park Association, the governing body for the neighborhood, sold lots to people who built cottages within the resort. These cottages came to have their own names, some of which remain the same to this day. 

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WEST MICHIGAN PIKE

January 2020 - September 2020

West Michigan Pike explored how the lakeshore was turned into the booming tourism industry we know today. It detailed over 100 years of highway history. 

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