Souvenirs from the Van Andel Arena will be on display at the GR Public Museum


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Many great performers have entertained fans at the Van Andel Arena since it opened in October 1996.

“Elton John, Paul McCartney, Prince,” said Richard MacKeigan, regional general manager of ASM Global, the company that manages the arena. “We have had spectacular sporting events.

The home of the Grand Rapids Griffins is among the best in the world compared to other arenas of similar size.

“In 25 years, we’ve been ranked no less than sixth against Billboard Magazine and Pollstar on Best Arena Ability (10,000-15,000) in the World,” MacKeigan said.

Photographs of sporting events, concerts and other events held at the arena and artifacts such as Griffins figurine dolls and championship rings collected throughout the arena’s history will soon be on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

This effort is the result of a collaboration between the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention / Arena Authority, the museum and the City Archives and Research Center.

The partnership was born because of the pandemic.

“We would normally have been so focused on a series of major events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Van Andel Arena,” said MacKeigan. “We couldn’t do that this year. We thought what better way to celebrate and commemorate 25 years than to bring it all together in one place for the good of the community.

Getting the items to the museum takes time. Before reaching a showcase, they are sent to the city archives and the research center.

“A series of documentation steps, such as high-resolution photography, cataloging, research,” said Holly Waldenmeyer, research and collections manager at the museum.

The process usually takes around three months.

“A lot of IT work is involved, a lot of data entry, a lot of tracking is involved for all of the artifacts once they’re officially part of our collection,” Waldenmeyer said.

No date has been set for the exhibition of the artifacts at the museum. MacKeigan says it’s possible artifacts could be on display in other locations as well, including the arena.

“It could be a scenario where we borrow some of the material or a private entity borrows it,” MacKeigan said.

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