Collections and Archives

Help Us Build Our Collection

The Tri-Cities Historical Museum maintains an expansive collection of more than 60,000 artifacts that have been donated by generous organizations, businesses, and community members. The collection includes a broad range of items – from archival materials such as photographs, maps, and books, to three-dimensional items as large as pianos and as small as buttons.

We are happy to consider items you’d like to donate to the collection. In keeping with our mission statement, we collect artifacts and archival material related to northwest Ottawa County.

How we evaluate donations

The Donations Review Committee, made up of board, staff, and knowledgeable members of the community, meets each month to consider donated items. We evaluate items against these acquisition requirements:

  • Is the item relevant to the history of northwest Ottawa County?
  • Does the item have exhibit or research potential?
  • Could the item be used for educational programs?
  • Can the item be properly stored, protected, and preserved in its current condition and with our available resources?
  • Does the item fill an identified gap in the collection or could it replace an inferior example?
  • Will this item be an unnecessary duplication?

If you are interested in donating:

Download a donation form and email it to along with a photo of the item(s) you wish to donate. This is the preferred method for items that are large and difficult to transport, or for a large collection of items that would be burdensome to drop off, and difficult for the Museum to store, while they are being considered.

Alternatively, you may bring your item to the front desk of the 200 Washington Ave. location, fill out a donation form, and leave the item with us to consider.

If you have any questions please contact:
Meredith Slover
Collections Manager

Work With Our Collection

The Community Archive and Research Center (CARC) is now open!

In order to better serve our community and fulfill our mission, the CARC building was renovated to properly house the artifact collection, allow a greater ease of access to research and local history information, and provide space for interaction with dedicated collections staff.

Independent Research Open Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:00pm-4:00pm

The research library contains many books and files on an array of local history topics and is available for independent study during open hours.

  • Please no food or drink in the Research Room
  • Pencils only
  • Photocopying available for research files – first 10 pages free, 10 cents per page after that

Other Requests by Appointment Only

Have a local history question or looking for photographs? Collections staff will research the permanent collection for items pertaining to your request. For your convenience, we can often share watermarked digital copies of photographs or information via email. For rare occasions when artifacts need to be seen in person, an appointment can be made and staff will handle the artifact. For any questions or special requests please download a research request form or contact: Meredith Slover, Curator of Collections or call 616-842-0700 ext. 200.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Museum purchase my object(s) for the collection?

No, the Museum relies on donations from the community, organizations, and individuals for the artifacts in the collection.

Can the Museum give me an appraisal for my object(s)?

No, our collections policy prohibits Museum personnel from making appraisals. Donors seeking tax benefits must contact a licensed professional.

Why can't my donation be on display all the time?

The Museum's gallery space is limited and our exhibits change each year. But even if space were not an issue, artifacts need a periodic "rest" from the damaging stress of light they are exposed to on exhibit. Some objects will not be displayed until an appropriate interpretative opportunity is developed, while others may require conservation or are being used for research. Exhibiting the collection is an important part of the Museum's mission but the collection also serves as a historical record of northwest Ottawa County – a record that we work to preserve and protect for future generations.

    Help us continue to preserve and present the history and culture of the Tri-Cities. Learn about giving options and volunteer opportunities – and get ready to be appreciated.

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