The museum is in the downtown area of Grand Rapids, but the grounds are still very nice. This is part of a larger downtown area that even includes a riverwalk (and another museum – the Public Museum of Grand Rapids). It also includes its own parking lot (always an important consideration!). We actually walked around for about a ½ hour after the museum.
The museum is not huge, but I thought it was very well done. You can start your tour with a short vide on Ford and then explore the exhibits on your own. You can get an idea of the permanent exhibits from the website. The museum also has several online exhibits. There is, of course, a significant exhibit on Watergate, but I found the exhibit on his early life to be more interesting. There is also a replica of Ford’s Oval Office, which has a running dialogue, but no people in it, which I find a bit creepy (you even hear the doors). There are also many of the state gifts the Ford received displayed, which encompass a huge range, including a Green Bay Packer’s signed helmet.
Want to know more about the White House? Currently there is an exhibit, The White House in Miniature, at the Ford Museum. This exhibit will be up until May of 2009. The detail on this is exquisite and it is a lot of fun to view as you can see every detail of the White House.
Gerald Ford is buried on the grounds and there is a nice grave area. You can see from the second name that Betty Ford will eventually be buried here as well (I personally find it creepy to see someone alive on a tombstone, but I know it is done regularly…my own grandmother has done it!).
A list of Ford’s favorites:
Hobby: stamp collecting
Breakfast: orange juice, melon, English muffins, and tea with lemon
Food: pot roast and red cabbage (for recipes see The White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller (New York: Random House, 1987, pp. 176-179)
Dessert: butter pecan ice cream
Hymn: The Navy Hymn - "Eternal Father Strong to Save"
Drink: coffee, iced tea
Participatory Sport: golf, tennis, skiing, swimming
Sports Figure: Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers
Parlor Game: bridge
Flower: apple blossom, azalea
Music: jazz, swing
Book: non-fiction contemporary history
Weather: sunshine on golf course, snow on ski slopes
Place to Visit: Vail, Colorado
Time of Day, Season: dawn, all seasons
Hero: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Most Unforgettable Moment: Noon, August 9, 1974, when sworn in as President.
Most Valued Advice: "That which comes from my wife."
Memberships: American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, 33rd Degree Mason
Things to Remember:
- This is just the museum, not the library, so if you want to do research, you’ll need to go to Ann Arbor.
- This is open 7 days a week, year round, so is pretty easy to visit. Ticket prices are also quite reasonable.
- This actually wasn’t that hard to find and you can see it from a major thoroughfare and there is a parking lot.