Ford Foundation kicks off $15 million museum expansion


A rendering of the planned student learning center at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum downtown. The center will allow teachers to bring full classrooms to the museum to study history, civics and learn about the Ford family's core values. Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Foundation

Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation revealed they have already received pledges totaling $10 million toward their $15 million goal of building a 10,500-square-foot addition to the former president’s museum at 303 Pearl St. NW.

The addition will house a student learning center that will feature interactive exhibits and offer online access to a significant number of historical documents that are located in the Ford Library in Ann Arbor.

“The vision of this campaign is to attract students of all ages to the museum and provide online access to the museum’s and library’s incredible holdings,” said David Frey, a trustee with the Ford Foundation and co-chairman of the campaign.

“This expansion will let individuals explore the Ford presidency, the lives of Gerald and Betty Ford and a significant number of historical documents associated with the history of our nation during the 1974-1977 time period,” said Frey.

The Ford Foundation is collaborating with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University to develop a curriculum that will benefit students and others who visit the museum, library or online learning sites.

“The addition of an on-site student learning center will allow teachers to bring full classrooms into the museum to study history, civics and see first-hand the core values mom and dad shared throughout their lives,” said son Steven Ford, who added that the trustees collectively pledged the $10 million to jump start the campaign.

A groundbreaking date, which could usher in the closing of the museum for six months due to construction, has not been decided on yet, but the project is expected to be finished in two years.

Those interested in donating to the Campaign for the Legacy of Gerald R. Ford can contact the foundation at (616) 254-0396 or go to

In addition to the campaign, a series of special events are being planned to commemorate the former president’s 100th birthday next year. More information on those events and the expansion project will be made available in the coming months. So far this year, more than 250,000 individuals have visited the Ford presidential museum, which was dedicated in September 1991.

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