GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the risk of COVID-19 transmission high in West Michigan, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids has closed.
The shutdown announcement was made Tuesday morning, just days before ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the start of ArtPrize, both of which are expected to go forward.
The Sept. 11 salute and community remembrance has been a solemn tradition for 20 years. Sunup to sundown, Boy Scouts turn out in front of the museum to salute those who lost their lives during the attacks while the community says thanks to first responders. Satellite ceremonies are set up in Muskegon and Traverse City.
“To pass that along to our kids and our future generations is, I think, one of the cornerstone reasons that not only are we honored to host the events, but it’s so important that it continues another 20 years,” said Aaron Gach, deputy scout executive with the Gerald R. Ford Boy Scouts Council.
Because the event is outdoors, it will proceed.
“We can spread out, socially distance and be outdoors,” Gach said.
There will be a virtual option for those who want to take part but are concerned about the virus.
“Logging in to our Facebook channel to watch the livestreams of the programs that go on throughout the day, interact socially with us,” Gach said, “some people will feel that’s a more safe way for them to participate. Either way, come out and participate.”
Officials said that outside exhibits for ArtPrize, set to begin Sept. 16, will not be affected by the shutdown.
Kent County’s high community transmission level classification from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention triggered the decision to close the museum. The door will reopen once that risk comes down.
The museum noted it will continue to offer virtual programs. A full list of available programs can be found online. Any tickets that have been purchased will be refunded. For the latest updates, follow the Gerald R. Ford President Museum on Facebook or visit its website.