Celebrate People's History

GVSU Performing Arts Center Gallery, Allendale Campus
August 28, 2020 - November 6, 2020

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Rooted in the do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced and distributed political propaganda, the Celebrate People’s History (CPH) poster series seeks to generate a diverse collection that brings to life successful moments in the history of social justice struggles. The project has been organized and curated by Josh MacPhee for over twenty years, beginning in 1998 when he created a poster of Malcolm X, and then pasted copies throughout Chicago’s West Side. Over the following years, MacPhee asked artists and designers to join the CPH project by finding events, groups, and people who have moved forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more equitable and just world and to interpret them with their unique vision and style.

Today CPH posters grace the walls of living center rooms, apartments, community centers, classrooms, and city streets. Over 125 different designs have been printed in the past twenty years, adding up to nearly half a million total posters. Although MacPhee has organized and funded these posters himself, the series has always been a collective project. Nearly two hundred artists have designed posters, including Brett Colley, associate professor in the Department of Visual & Media Arts at Grand Valley State University. In addition to the artists, multiple community-based print shops have done the production, dozens of people have run around at night pasting them on the street, and thousands have helped distribute them around the world.

Download the Learning Guide.
View all the posters in the GVSU Art Collection online

video of artist Brett Colley talking about his creative process and involvement in the exhibition

Artist and GVSU faculty Brett Colley talks about his creative process and involvement in the exhibition.

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Posters, Artists, and Featured Stories

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All posters, in order of their addition to the project.

  • Malcolm X,  Josh MacPhee, May 1998 (reprinted October 2018)
  • May Day,  Eric Drooker, April 1999
  • John Brown,  Josh MacPhee, May 1999
  • Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Action,  Darrell Gane-McCalla, March 2001
  • Sylvia Ray Rivera and Stonewall,  John Gerkin, June 2001 (reprinted March 2009)
  • Jane—Underground Abortion Service , Meredith Stern, November 2001
  • Emma Goldman, Ben Rubin , February 2002 (reprinted January 2009)
  • Battle of Homestead , Erok Boerer, November 2002
  • Las Mujeres Libres, Cristy C. Road, June 2004
  • Mothers of East Los Angeles , Jen Cartwright, July 2004
  • The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (& Maids) , Meredith Stern, December 2004
  • Muhammad Ali Refuses to Fight, Colin Matthes, December 2004
  • Milwaukee 14, Brandon Bauer, March 2005
  • Cochabamba Water Struggle , Swoon, April 2005
  • Louise Olivereau , Aprille Thurheimer, April 2005
  • The White Rose , Keinom, February 2006
  • The Occupation of Alcatraz , Josh MacPhee, February 2006
  • ADAPT, Jen Cartwright, September 2006
  • Korean Peasant's League , Nicole Schulman, November 2006
  • Dolores Huerta , Bobby Cortez and Blake Riley , December 2006
  • Miss Molly Jackson , Pete Railand, February 2007
  • Battle of Blair Mountain, Chris Stain, March 2007
  • Secession of the Plebs , Art Hazelwood, March 2007
  • IWW Local 8 , Peter Cole (text) and Marc Nelson (art), May 2007
  • 8.8.88, Keinom, May 2007
  • Act Up Philadelphia , Courtney Dailey (art) and Act Up Philadelphia (text), July 2007
  • Buga-Up , Tom Civil (design) and Iain McIntyre (text/concept), August 2007
  • Durruti Column, Josh MacPhee, September 2007
  • EZLN, Kate Luscher, July 2008
  • Kalamazoo Corset Strike, Shaun Slifer and Sara Meister, August 2008
  • Grace and Jimmy Boggs, Bec Young, August 2008
  • Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker, James David Morgan, September 2008
  • Sequoyah and the Cherokee Writing System, SpeakEasy Press, December 2008
  • Red Feds, Garage Collective, January 2009
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan, Robin Hewlett, February 2009
  • Oaxaca Women's Resistance, Tim Simons and Barucha Calamity Peller, March 2009
  • Youth-Led Resistance to Immigration Raids and Deportations, Jesus Barraza, March 2009
  • Matzpen, Joshua Kahn Russell and Dan Berger, August 2009
  • Atenco Aguanta, Melanie Cervantes, September 2009
  • Dil Pickle Club, Marc Moscato, Fred Sasaki, and Dean Rank, September 2009
  • Madres de Plaza de Mayo, John Isaacson, September 2009
  • Flint Sit-Down Strike, Dylan A.T. Miner, December 2009
  • The Haitian Revolution, Aaron Renier, May 2010
  • Assata Shakur is Free, Molly Fair and Laura Whitehorn, May 2010
  • DRUM, Bec Young, June 2010
  • Los Siete de la Raza, Fernando Martí, October 2010
  • Sacco and Vanzetti, Josh MacPhee, October 2010
  • El Hijo del Ahuizote, Santiago Armengod, October 2010
  • Co-Madres, Nicole Schulman (art) and Mara Komoska (text), October 2010
  • National Prisoners Reform Association, Alexander Dwinell and Sanya Hyland, October 2010
  • Crass, Brandon Bauer, December 2010
  • The Diggers, Erik Ruin, December 2010
  • Jana Sanskriti, Morgan F.P. Andrews, January 2011
  • Jamaican Maroons Fend Off the British, Damon Locks, January 2012
  • Jane Jacobs, Sabrina Jones, January 2012
  • Vieques Libre, Dave Buchen, January 2012
  • Wisconsin Workers' Uprising 2011, Sue Simensky Bietila, February 2012
  • Major Taylor, Janet Attard, February 2012
  • Prison Justice Day, Rocky Tobey, March 2012
  • Seki Ran Kai, Redeye (illustration) and Keisuke Narita (design), April 2012
  • The International Hotel, Claude Moller (design), Jerry Jew and Chris Fujimoto (photographs), April 2012
  • Animal Liberation Front, Karen Fiorito, April 2012
  • New Jewish Agenda, Abigail Miller (text) and Ezra Nepon (art), May 2012
  • Walter Rodney, Josh MacPhee, July 2012
  • The Underground Railroad, Sam Kerson, July 2012
  • For a Society Without Prisons, Josh MacPhee, July 2012
  • Audre Lorde, Katrina Silander Clark, May 2013
  • Grace Paley, Meredith Stern, May 2013
  • Squamish 5, Matt Gauck, June 2013
  • Luddites, Shaun Slifer, June 2014
  • Grandmothers of Austin, The Stockyard Institute, June 2014
  • Matilde Landa, Un Mundo Feliz, July 2014
  • El Maquis, Un Mundo Feliz, July 2014
  • ILWU and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle, Blanco (art) and Peter Cole (text), November 2014
  • The Lesbian Herstory Archives, Carrie Moyer (design) and Morgan Gwenwald (photograph), November 2014
  • Amazon Army, Dave Loewenstein, November 2014
  • The Pueblo Revolt, Dylan A.T. Miner, March 2015
  • Primo Tapia de la Cruz, Christopher Cardinale, March 2015
  • Seattle: Direct Action Shuts Down the WTO, Nicolas Lampert, April 2015
  • Chico Mendes, Colin Matthes, April 2015
  • The People of Egypt: We’re Still Here, Ganzeer, June 2015
  • The Red Wheelies, Rachael House, June 2015
  • J18, or the Carnival Against Capitalism, Edd Baldry, September 2015
  • James Baldwin, John Jennings, November 2015
  • Yarmouk, Ethan Heitner, November 2015
  • Amilcar Cabral, Josh MacPhee, November 2015
  • Feminist Comix, Emily Brymer, September 2016
  • Bayard Rustin, Eli Brown, September 2016
  • Ghassan Kanafani, Jamaa Al-Yad, October 2016
  • Dockum Drug Store Sit-In, Cheyenne Garrison, December 2016
  • U.S. Indian Industrial Training School at Haskell, Lana Grove, December 2016
  • The Young Lords Organization, Ricardo Levins Morales, January 2017
  • Annie Diggs, Emi Gennis, March 2017
  • Québec 2001: Un Carnaval Contre le Capitalisme, Kevin Yuen-Kit lo (art and design) and Stefan Christoff (concept and text), April 2017
  • Woody Guthrie, Scout, May 2017
  • Sister Corita Kent, Shannon Gerard and Mary Tremonte, May 2017
  • Loukanikos the Riot Dog, Zola, April 2018
  • The Brown Berets, Julio Cordova, April 2018
  • Las 17+, Micho Vega, May 2018
  • Lick Your Elbow, Josh MacPhee, May 2018
  • Rani of Jhansi, Bishakh Som, August 2018
  • Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, Andre Perez, August 2018
  • Harry Hay, Miriam Klein Stahl, November 2018
  • Ray Jackson, The Ray Jackson Memorial Collective, November 2018
  • Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, Jenny Schmid, August 2019
  • World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights, Devika Sen, August 2019
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, Sophie Yanow, October 2019
  • Octavia Butler, Susie Wilson, October 2019
  • Protect Mauna Kea, Ashley Lukashevsky, November 2019
  • Take a Knee Protests, Brett Colley, July 2020
  • The Battle of Mactan, Kill Joy, August 2020
  • The Paris Commune, Fred Sochard, August 2020
  • Angel Island Liberty Association, Christine Wong Yap, August 2020
  • Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Miriam Klein Stahl and Josh MacPhee, August 2020
  • Vanguard Street Sweep, Edie Fake, August 2020
  • Landless Workers Movement (MST), Camila Rosa, August 2020
  • Reparations Now, Reparations Won!, Monica Trinidad, August 2020


All posters, listed alphabetically by artist last name.

  • Al-Yad, Jamaa, Ghassan Kanafani , October 2016
  • Andrews, Morgan F.P., Jana Sanskriti , January 2011
  • Armengod, Santiago, El Hijo del Ahuizote , October 2010
  • Attard, Janet, Major Taylor , February 2012
  • Baldry, Edd, J18, or the Carnival Against Capitalism , September 2015
  • Barraza, Jesus, Youth-Led Resistance to Immigration Raids and Deportations , March 2009
  • Bauer, Brandon,  Milwaukee 14 , March 2005
  • Bauer, Brandon, Crass , December 2010
  • Berger, Dan and Joshua Kahn Russell, Matzpen , August 2009
  • Bietila, Sue Simensky, Wisconsin Workers' Uprising 2011 , February 2012
  • Blanco (art) and Peter Cole (text), ILWU and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle , November 2014
  • Boerer, Erok,  Battle of Homestead , November 2002
  • Brown, Eli, Bayard Rustin , September 2016
  • Brymer, Emily, Feminist Comix , September 2016
  • Buchen, Dave, Vieques Libre , January 2012
  • Cardinale, Christopher, Primo Tapia de la Cruz , March 2015
  • Cartwright, Jen,  Mothers of East Los Angeles , July 2004
  • Cartwright, Jen, ADAPT , September 2006
  • Cervantes, Melanie, Atenco Aguanta , September 2009
  • Civil, Tom (design) and Iain McIntyre (text/concept), Buga-Up , August 2007
  • Clark, Katrina Silander, Audre Lorde, May 2013
  • Cole, Peter (text) and Marc Nelson (art), Secession of the Plebs, May 2007
  • Colley, Brett, Take a Knee Protests, July 2020
  • Cordova, Julio, The Brown Berets, April 2018
  • Cortez, Bobby and Blake Riley, Dolores Huerta, December 2006
  • Dailey, Courtney (art) and Act Up Philadelphia (text), Act Up Philadelphia, July 2007
  • Drooker, Eric, May Day, April 1999
  • Dwinell, Alexander and Sanya Hyland, National Prisoners Reform Association, October 2010
  • Fair, Molly and Laura Whitehorn, Assata Shakur is Free, May 2010
  • Fake, Edie, Vanguard Street Sweep, August 2020
  • Fiorito, Karen, Animal Liberation Front, April 2012
  • Gane-McCalla, Darrell,  Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Action, March 2001
  • Ganzeer, The People of Egypt: We’re Still Here, June 2015
  • Garage Collective, Red Feds, January 2009
  • Garrison, Cheyenne, Dockum Drug Store Sit-In, December 2016
  • Gauck, Matt, Squamish 5, June 2013
  • Gennis, Emi, Annie Diggs, March 2017
  • Gerard, Shannon and Mary Tremonte, Sister Corita Kent, May 2017
  • Gerkin, John,  Sylvia Ray Rivera and Stonewall, June 2001 (reprinted March 2009)
  • Grove, Lana, U.S. Indian Industrial Training School at Haskell, December 2016
  • Hazelwood, Art, Secession of the Plebs, March 2007
  • Heitner, Ethan, Yarmouk, November 2015
  • Hewlett, Robin, Narmada Bachao Andolan, February 2009
  • House, Rachael, The Red Wheelies, June 2015
  • Isaacson, John, Madres de Plaza de Mayo, September 2009
  • Jennings, John, James Baldwin, November 2015
  • Jones, Sabrina, Jane Jacobs, January 2012
  • Keinom, 8.8.88, May 2007
  • Keinom, The White Rose , February 2006
  • Kerson, Sam, The Underground Railroad, July 2012
  • Kill Joy, The Battle of Mactan, August 2020
  • Lampert, Nicolas, Seattle: Direct Action Shuts Down the WTO, April 2015
  • Lo, Kevin Yuen-Kit (art and design) and Stefan Christoff (concept and text), Québec 2001: Un Carnaval Contre le Capitalisme, April 2017
  • Locks, Damon, Jamaican Maroons Fend Off the British, January 2012
  • Loewenstein, Dave, Amazon Army, November 2014
  • Lukashevsky, Ashley, Protect Mauna Kea, November 2019
  • Luscher, Kate, EZLN, July 2008
  • MacPhee, Josh - John Brown, May 1999
  • MacPhee, Josh - Malcolm X, May 1998 (reprinted October 2018)
  • MacPhee, Josh, Amilcar Cabral, November 2015
  • MacPhee, Josh, Durruti Column, September 2007
  • MacPhee, Josh, For a Society Without Prisons, July 2012
  • MacPhee, Josh, Lick Your Elbow, May 2018
  • MacPhee, Josh, Sacco and Vanzetti, October 2010
  • MacPhee, Josh, The Occupation of Alcatraz, February 2006
  • MacPhee, Josh, Walter Rodney, July 2012
  • Martí, Fernando, Los Siete de la Raza, October 2010
  • Matthes, Colin,  Muhammad Ali Refuses to Fight, December 2004
  • Matthes, Colin, Chico Mendes, April 2015
  • Meister, Sara and Shaun Slifer, Kalamazoo Corset Strike, August 2008
  • Miller, Abigail (text) and Ezra Nepon (art), New Jewish Agenda, May 2012
  • Miner, Dylan A.T., Flint Sit-Down Strike, December 2009
  • Miner, Dylan A.T., The Pueblo Revolt, March 2015
  • Moller, Claude (design), Jerry Jew and Chris Fujimoto (photographs), The International Hotel, April 2012
  • Morales, Ricardo Levins, The Young Lords Organization,  January 2017
  • Morgan, James David, Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker, September 2008
  • Moscato, Marc, Fred Sasaki, and Dean Rank, Dil Pickle Club, September 2009
  • Moyer, Carrie (design) and Morgan Gwenwald (photograph), The Lesbian Herstory Archives, November 2014
  • Perez, Andre, Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, August 2018
  • Railand, Pete, Miss Molly Jackson, February 2007
  • Redeye (illustration) and Keisuke Narita (design), Seki Ran Kai, April 2012
  • Renier, Aaron, The Haitian Revolution, May 2010
  • Road, Cristy C.,  Las Mujeres Libres, June 2004
  • Rosa, Camila, Landless Workers Movement (MST), August 2020
  • Rubin, Ben,  Emma Goldman, February 2002 (reprinted January 2009)
  • Ruin, Erik, The Diggers, December 2010
  • Schmid, Jenny, Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, August 2019
  • Schulman, Nicole (art) and Mara Komoska (text), Co-Madres, October 2010
  • Schulman, Nicole, Korean Peasant's League, November 2006
  • Scout, Woody Guthrie, May 2017
  • Sen, Devika, World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights, August 2019
  • Simons, Tim and Barucha Calamity Peller, Oaxaca Women's Resistance, March 2009
  • Slifer, Shaun, Luddites, June 2014
  • Sochard, Fred, The Paris Commune, August 2020
  • Som, Bishakh, Rani of Jhansi, August 2018
  • SpeakEasy Press, Sequoyah and the Cherokee Writing System, December 2008
  • Stahl, Miriam Klein and Josh MacPhee, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, August 2020
  • Stahl, Miriam Klein, Harry Hay, November 2018
  • Stain, Chris, Battle of Blair Mountain, March 2007
  • Stern, Meredith,  Jane—Underground Abortion Service, November 2001
  • Stern, Meredith,  The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (& Maids), December 2004
  • Stern, Meredith, Grace Paley, May 2013
  • Swoon, Cochabamba Water Struggle, April 2005
  • The Ray Jackson Memorial Collective, Ray Jackson, November 2018
  • The Stockyard Institute, Grandmothers of Austin, June 2014
  • Thurheimer, Aprille,  Louise Olivereau, April 2005
  • Tobey, Rocky, Prison Justice Day, March 2012
  • Trinidad, Monica, Reparations Now, Reparations Won!, August 2020
  • Un Mundo Feliz, El Maquis, July 2014
  • Un Mundo Feliz, Matilde Landa, July 2014
  • Vega, Micho, Las 17+, May 2018
  • Wilson, Susie, Octavia Butler, October 2019
  • Yanow, Sophie, Ursula K. Le Guin, October 2019
  • Yap, Christine Wong, Angel Island Liberty Association, August 2020
  • Young, Bec, DRUM, June 2010
  • Young, Bec, Grace and Jimmy Boggs, August 2008
  • Zola, Loukanikos the Riot Dog, April 2018

Featured posters and the stories behind their creation or subject.

Notes from the Curator, 15 Years On
"I’ve now been organizing the Celebrate People’s History poster series for over 15 years, and have printed almost 80 different posters. In order to add another layer of depth to the project, I have been asking the poster artists and designers to send me texts about what inspired them, sketches, and source photos." - Josh MacPhee, 2012


The Making Of...

  • The Luddites , Shaun Slifer, June 2014
    "Last autumn, I finished up a design for a new poster in the Celebrate People’s History series, and it’s just now hot off the presses (you can get it here)! The subject of the poster is the Luddites – not those contemporary freaks without Instagram accounts, but rather the original insurrections in the Midlands of England, roughly 1811-1813, during the violent creep of mechanization of the trades into the cultural fabric of English society. I thought it would be worthwhile to detail my design process here." - Shaun Slifer. Read more here.
  • Oaxaca Women's Resistance , Tim Simons and Barucha Calamity Peller, March 2009 
    A look behind Tim Simon’s Celebrate People’s History Poster (taken from his blog, Some News, Mostly Propaganda). 



About the Curator

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Josh MacPhee is a designer, artist, and archivist. He is a founding member of both the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and Interference Archive, a public collection of cultural materials produced by social movements based in Brooklyn, NY. MacPhee is the author and editor of numerous publications, including Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now and Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture (and other books linked above). He has organized the Celebrate People's History poster series since 1998 and has been designing book covers for many publishers for the past decade (AntumbraDesign.org). His most recent book is An Encyclopedia of Political Record Labels (Common Notions, 2019), a compendium of information about political music and radical cultural production. 

Artist and designer Josh MacPhee holding a poster depicting pennants that list the words dream, learn, fight, think, strike, build, grow, listen

Curator, Josh MacPhee

Key Themes & Research Tools

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The posters in this exhibition feature events, groups, and individual people who, in the words of curator Josh MacPhee, "have moved forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more equitable and just world." You will find posters depicting lesser-known human rights activists, posters honoring protests from decades past, and posters celebrating histories that don't always show up in text books. MacPhee explains, "The posters tell stories from the subjective position of the artists, and are often the stories of underdogs, those written out of history. The goal of this project is not to tell a definitive history, but to suggest a new relationship to the past." 

This exhibition engages themes related to social justice, the mass production and distribution of DIY visual media, and how artistic interpretation plays a role in our relationship with history. The GVSU Library subject guides listed below and the databases list under "Additional Resources" help you find articles related to these themes. Download the Learning Guide (right) for more information about these themes.

Can't make it to the gallery? Then take a virtual tour of the exhibit while maintaining safe social distancing practices. 

Subject Guides

Learning Guide
(click to open in new window and download)

Recommended Reading

Check out the following GVSU Library books and articles covering key themes of the exhibition. Or use the Libraries Catalog to find more books and articles.

Download the full reading list

Activities & Events

The activities and events linked below were created specifically for this exhibition, and engage a variety of themes, creative processes and media related to the artwork and artists in the exhibition. They are still available via the links below.

Make your own poster inspired by the Celebrate People's History program. 
Click for a downloadable template and step-by-step instructions!

View past Live from the Gallery talks on our YouTube channel.

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Additional Resources

Additional Reading / Viewing


Get Involved On Campus


Research & Writing Resources


  • Alt-PressWatch This link opens in a new window: Alt-PressWatch showcases unique, independent voices from some of our nation's most respected and cited grassroots newspapers, magazines, and journals. The database features over 670,000 articles from more than 210 publications, offering a wide range of unfettered, critical coverage of the news.
  • America: History and Life: The premier database for research on the history of the United States and Canada.
  • American Indian Experience: Is a full-text resource exploring the histories and contemporary cultures of the indigenous peoples of the United States featuring more than 150 volumes, hundreds of primary documents, and thousands of images.
  • Art Abstracts and Retrospective: Art Full Text and Retrospective indexes more than 500 worldwide publications covering the fine, decorative and commercial arts, crafts and media as far back as 1929.
  • ARTstor: ARTstor is a digital library of nearly one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences with a set of tools to view, present, and manage images for research and pedagogical purposes.
  • Daily Life Through History: Provides a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary resource that supports history, social studies, English, and language students. It moves seamlessly from past to present, providing context for contemporary life and culture. The content is enhanced with new books, articles, images, maps, primary documents, and more on a regular cycle.
  • GenderWatch: Provides authoritative historical and current perspectives on the evolution of gender roles as they affect both men and women.
  • GVSU Visual Resources Library (GLEAN©): The GVSU Visual Resources Library is the Department of Visual and Media Arts Collection consisting of more than 260,000 digital images to support teaching and learning in art and design. To access the collection from off-campus, please contact the Visual Resources Library at [email protected] or (616)331-3644 for username and password.
  • International Bibliography of Art (IBA): The International Bibliography of Art (IBA) is the successor to the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA). It includes the subject areas of fine arts, archaeology, museum studies, classical studies, and architecture. This resource has an international scope with over 60% of content from non-English publications. Date coverage: 2008-present.
  • Oxford Art Online: Oxford Art Online is an art reference library that searches Grove Art Online, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, and The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. This resource contains images, biographies, subject entries, and thematic timelines.
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More from the GVSU Art Gallery & Permanent Collection


August 28, 2020 - November 6, 2020

Performing Arts Center Gallery
Performing Arts Center
1 Campus Dr.
Allendale, MI 49401

Monday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 1:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.


For special accommodation, please call:
(616) 331-2563

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions
[email protected]

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email:
[email protected].

Page last modified February 9, 2023