GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Public Museum will explore a painful chapter of our nation’s history with a new traveling exhibit.
The exhibit is called “Overcoming Hateful Things: Stories from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery.” The traveling exhibit comes from Ferris State University, which recently invested in a larger facility for its Jim Crow Museum.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum will be the first stop for the newly created traveling exhibit. GRPM President Dale Robertson called it an honor to play a role in this educational endeavor.
“We are delighted to partner with and support the Jim Crow Museum and FSU in this important educational effort. It is fitting that two West Michigan-based public institutions cooperate and support each other in this endeavor,” Robertson said in a statement.
The collection is curated by David Pilgrim, an applied sociologist who now serves as the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at FSU. He says the goal is to help facilitate “thoughtful, nuanced discussions about our racial past, present and future.”
“The Jim Crow Museum is committed to the triumph of dialogue,” Pilgrim said in a statement. “When hearts and heads meet through honest, courageous dialogue, especially about difficult, even painful topics, the possibility for lasting change emerges.”
The museum first started as a hobby for Pilgrim, who began collecting racist imagery in the 1970s. In his university biography, Pilgrim talks about how he first became “obsessed” with racist objects. It connects to his time at Jarvis Christian College, learning from his Black professors and hearing their stories.
“The stories I heard were not angry ones; no, worse, they were matter-of-fact accounts of everyday life in a land where every black person was considered inferior to every white one, a time when ‘social equality’ was a profane expression, fighting words,” Pilgrim wrote.
“Overcoming Hateful Things” will open June 3. Visitors will need to obtain a special ticket to enter the exhibit. The exhibit ticket can be added to a general admission ticket free of charge on the museum’s website or at the museum’s front desk.
Because the exhibit contains some mature themes, images and language, it is not recommended for children under 12. GRPM says all children 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult.