Reflections on 2015 and a look ahead to 2016

• Dec 29, 2015
Often the years’ end is not just a time of celebration, but also one of reflection of the past year and a chance to look ahead.

 For many years, the Tri-Cities Historical Museum has been a hub of information, education resources and celebration for Northwest Ottawa County. As we take a look back at 2015, we saw growth in our education services, school tours and classroom visits; we hosted two wonderfully, well-received new exhibits — “60 Centuries of Copper and Obsolete Technology”; and launched a successful capital campaign to acquire and remodel new storage space in order to continue the preservation of the museum’s vast collection of photographs and artifacts. Record attendance occurred at many of our museum and community events — more than 700 people visited our Haunted Museum in October, over 900 kicked off the holidays at our Holiday Marketplace and again more than 1,000 attended our Night Light open house.

We also continued a long-time tradition with the 15th annual Feast of the Strawberry Moon on Harbor Island.  The museum is steeped in both local history and current activity. If you were to look at some of the earliest photographs of the committees and groups that began the path to form a local historical society, you would see an air of excitement. People throughout the community came together with a plan and a mission as well as a lively spirit to ensure not only the preservation of history but a vision of a place to gather and enjoy and celebrate each other’s company. When the Akeley Building project was finished in 2004, that specific gathering place was created. The enlarged space allowed the museum to host larger exhibits and community events. We became a central downtown location in one of the most recognizable buildings on Washington Avenue.

As we now begin to look ahead to 2016, we are very excited to expand our offerings to include cultural events with art openings and exhibits and live music in Centennial Hall. On Jan. 8, the museum, in partnership with the Red House Concert Series, launches Music at the Museum, a five-part concert series.  For centuries, groups of people have gathered to listen to live music. Starting in small pioneer cabins where a man played a fiddle and the neighbors listened and clapped along, continuing to band shells and concerts in parks to modern-day music festivals and sold-out stadiums. People came and the music formed a sense of community.

Our hope is to draw on that same sense of community and provide a positive, fun environment for people to again gather and enjoy music. We invite ticket-holders to enjoy live music in Centennial Hall, a cash bar with Michigan craft beer and wine, and explore Tri-Cities Historical Museum — all in one evening.  Our concert line-up includes critically acclaimed, award-winning and nationally touring headline musicians as well as local opening bands. Concerts take place once per month through May.

On Feb. 27, the museum will host the second annual Cajun Night, bringing a little bit of the New Orleans’ bayou heat to the winter in the Tri-Cities. A wonderful Cajun band will entertain with music and dance lessons, and guests can sample a variety of authentic New Orleans cuisine.  Beginning in March, the museum will host the spring Lakeland Artists show. This show features recent art pieces by local artists working in a variety of mediums.

We encourage you to continue to gather with friends and neighbors and the community where that same lively spirit continues today. Our hope will be that, as you reflect on your previous years, you will remember the time you spent attending a museum event and visiting with our director, Steven Radtke, or our long-time historian, Alice Seaver, or hearing a local school child recite his knowledge of the Michigan fur trade because Mr. Kevin or Miss Cate came to his class.

Our hope is to continue to provide the Tri-Cities with the history they need so that, as a community, we all continue to look toward the future with a sense of excitement.

For more information about our 2016 events and programs, please contact Abbei Monroe or Kevin Geary at 616-842-0700, or log onto

— By Abbei Monroe, Tribune community columnist. Monroe is the membership coordinator for the Tri-Cities Historical Museum in Grand Haven.

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