Michigan museum hosts Betty Ford centennial exhibit

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) – A museum in western Michigan is opening an exhibit to celebrate former First Lady Betty Ford’s 100th birthday.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum plans to open “In Step with Betty Ford: A Celebration of Her Centennial” on April 10, two days after her birthday, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Betty Ford

Photo of Betty Ford taken in 1974 by David Hume Kennerly (American, 1947-)

The exhibit will display Ford’s full biography for the first time and is a good way to reintroduce her to the Grand Rapids community she impacted, said Don Holloway, curator of the exhibit.

“This exhibit provides the public an opportunity for an in-depth and personal view of Betty Ford in a way never before told by the museum,” Holloway said. “Her whole life prepared her for the leadership she would demonstrate as first lady and as a public figure after leaving the White House.”

Gerald Ford was a congressman from Grand Rapids before becoming vice president and eventually president following Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation. Gerald Ford died in 2006 and Betty Ford in 2011.

Holloway said Betty Ford may have affected people in more ways her husband did as president because she connected with others on a more personal level. The former first lady was not very political, but was “very much a sympathetic and empathetic person,” Holloway said.

The exhibit will feature more than 150 artifacts and documents from the National Archives. It will also include items on loan from the Grand Rapids Public Museum and historical images reproduced from a collection at the Grand Rapids Public Library.

The exhibit will be free to the public. It will run through Jan. 16, 2019.


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids