Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum

There is a little something for everyone at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. It is part children's museum, part Kalamazoo history museum, part repository of historical artifacts. And with both permanent and temporary exhibits as well as a planetarium, it is difficult to know where to begin. If you live in the area and have a free afternoon, I recommend that you take a look. Best of all, admission is free, though the planetarium show costs $3 per person.

You may first want to visit their re-vamped website to get an overview of their offerings and to see what temporary exhibits are currently there. As of February 2012, a new exhibit just opened entitled Disease Detectives that will stay at the KVM through May 28th. There are usually four to six temporary exhibits per year between their two galleries on the 1st and 3rd floors.

If you remember the mummy that used to be located in the little museum above the library, you can visit it again at the KVM and see the X-rays done on it in recent years.

Behind the public face of the KVM are scholars who are working hard to collect and make available photographs (through a collaboration with the Kalamazoo Public Library) and documents from our city's past. Through blog posts, segments of letters (from a Civil War soldier) and diary entries (from a young woman starting in 1909) are being shared with the public.

Free monthly lectures (the Sunday History Series), from September through May, are also held here on various topics, some of definite interest to those conducting research into family history, and thus Kalamazoo history.

For those of us who don't live in the area, there is still one thing that the KVM can offer us: their online magazine. Formerly entitled Museography, but just renamed museON, it is more than just an advertisement for the current exhibits in the museum. The magazine is published three times per year. In every issue there are articles relating to Kalamazoo history from prominent citizens to neighborhoods to industries in the area (like automobiles, and I mean before there was ever a GM plant in town). Better yet, all past issues are available for download through the KVM website.

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum has a lot to offer and I encourage you to take a look.

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