The Rapidian Home

Community updates: Monday, June 15

Grand Rapids Public Museum reopening in July, Grand Rapids Coalition to End Homelessness launches online dashboard with local homelessness data, and Michigan Department of State launches online absentee voter application.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum's exhibition, West Michigan Habitats; reopening to the public on July 6.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum's exhibition, West Michigan Habitats; reopening to the public on July 6. /Grand Rapids Public Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum reopening in July

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) will be reopening to the public in July, after nearly four months of shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 1, the museum will welcome back its members, followed by a welcoming back for the general public on July 6. The museum will be closed the weekend in between in celebration of Fourth of July.

Among the exhibitions on display when the GRPM reopens is Bodies Revealed, which has been extended to September 27. Featuring real, preserved body specimens in promotion of healthy living, the exhibition opened in November 2019 and was originally planned to run through spring 2020. Sean Kenney’s Wild Connections Made with LEGO® Bricks exhibition at the museum has a shifted start month of November in light.

As most, if not all, would expect, new safety protocols at the GRPM will be in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Our team has taken many steps and precautions to limit risks associated with COVID-19 transmission in our spaces.” said Dale Robertson, GRPM President and CEO. “Visitors will see new procedures, including at the Museum’s entry, and throughout our exhibition spaces.”

The museum will have new capacity limits, with temporarily removed touch screens and virtual reality experiences. GRPM staff and visitors will also be asked to wear face coverings, unless they’re medically unable to. Locally-made face coverings and hand sanitizer will be available for purchase in its Curiosity Shop.

Other changes include signage around the building reminding visitors to keep a six-feet distance from others, the addition of hand sanitizing stations, and more frequent and detailed cleaning protocols.

More details about GRPM exhibitions and activities upon its reopening are available on its website.


Grand Rapids Coalition to End Homelessness launches online dashboard with local homelessness data

Helping to ensure efforts to end or reduce homelessness in Kent County are informed by timely data, the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homeless (CEH) launched a new online dashboard with easy-to-use features for the community.

Found on the CEH’s website, the dashboard breaks down data about area homelessness since quarter four of 2018. Included features are the demographics of those experiencing homelessness, whether experiences are first-time or returning, length of time homeless, positive outcomes, and more.

The CEH’s dashboard is produced exclusively with data from the Michigan State Homeless Management Information System, locally administered by Heart of West Michigan United Way.

Details about the CEH’s actions to end or reduce area homelessness are available on the What We Do page on its website.


Michigan Department of State launches online absentee voter application

The Michigan Department of State has launched an online platform offering Michigan voters another way to request an absentee ballot, it announced Friday.

Available at, registered voters can apply for an absentee ballot using their driver’s license or state ID, and last four digits of their Social Security Number.

“The more choices a person has when it comes to exercising their right to vote, the better they are able to make the choice that works best for them,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “This tool provides another digital option for voters to safely and conveniently apply to receive their absentee ballot, while also offering clerks an easy, cost efficient way of processing the application securely.”

After approval for an absentee ballot, local clerks will mail the ballot to the voter within the appropriate timeframe for the election they’ve requested to vote absentee. Voters must mail back paper ballots to the clerk’s office, deposit them in a drop box, or cast a ballot in person with the clerk by 8pm on Election Day in order to be counted.

To prevent voter fraud, voters must sign the ballot return envelope, so it can be verified and matched to the voter’s record for the ballot to be counted.

Details about how to register to vote in Michigan are available on the Michigan Department of State’s website.


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