Van Andel Arena memorabilia to be displayed at GR Public Museum

Grand Rapids

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

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

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

“In 25 years, we’ve been ranked no lower than sixth relative to Billboard magazine and Pollstar on top arenas capacities (10,000 to 15,000) in the world,” MacKeigan said. 

Photographs of sporting events, concerts and other events held at the arena and artifacts like Griffins bobblehead dolls and championship rings collected throughout the arena’s history will soon be displayed at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. 

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

The partnership came to be because of the pandemic. 

“We normally would’ve been so focused on a major run of events to celebrate 25 of Van Andel Arena,” MacKeigan said. “We couldn’t pull that off this year. We figured what better way to celebrate and commemorate 25 years than to get all this stuff together in one place for the benefit of community.”

Getting the items to the museum takes time. Before they hit a display case, they are sent to the City Archives and Research Center. 

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

The process usually takes around three months. 

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

No date has been set on when the artifacts will be displayed at the museum. MacKeigan says there is a chance that artifacts could also be displayed at other locations, including the arena. 

“Could be a scenario we borrow some of the stuff or a private entity borrows it,” MacKeigan said. 

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