The Rapidian

Welcome Center at Grand Rapids Art Museum gets reinvented

GRAM and Experience Grand Rapids have collaborated to develop the Welcome Center at GRAM.
Welcome Center at GRAM

Welcome Center at GRAM /Courtesy of the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Underwriting support from:

/Courtesy of the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Looking for fun things to do and see in Grand Rapids?  Are you a visitor, a new resident, or perhaps a local looking to discover something new? Whichever describes you, planning your Grand Rapids experience now begins at the Grand Rapids Art Museum!

To establish a public welcome center for Grand Rapids visitors, GRAM and Experience Grand Rapids have collaborated to develop The Welcome Center at GRAM—a hub for all things Grand Rapids. The center serves as a prominent location for all to easily access the resources they need for a first-rate Grand Rapids experience.

While city welcome centers are often stand-alone buildings, or are located within the maze of a city’s government infrastructure, the Welcome Center at GRAM is a unique hybrid venture designed to best serve local needs. The Welcome Center at GRAM is located in the Museum lobby, granting visitors access to the space during regular GRAM hours. An annex location in the northeast corner of the Museum Store accommodates visitors during weekday and weekend hours when the museum is closed.

The location at GRAM was based on observations over the past year and a half recording how visitors discovered the space, and on discussions with outside partners–including Experience Grand Rapids—for insight on making the transition.

“It’s important that downtown visitor centers are easy to find and centrally located,” said Janet Korn, Senior Vice President of Experience Grand Rapids. “The welcome center provides area information for visitors and convention attendees.” Convention attendees are a large population Grand Rapids has increasingly played host to—and the Welcome Center will serve as an easily located information station for fun events and places to eat and drink throughout Grand Rapids. 

Along with the addition of the Welcome Center, the GRAM frontline staff, including Visitor Services associates and museum store staff, are Certified Tourism Ambassadors (CTA). This official nationwide program is offered by Experience Grand Rapids on behalf of the Tourism Ambassador Institute.

“Those who go through the CTA program are informed about Grand Rapids which can enhance a visitor’s experience,” said Lisa Verhil, CTA, Visitor Services Manager at Experience Grand Rapids. “The program also makes people acutely aware of the economic impact that visitors bring to our city. We not only want visitors to have a first-class experience, we want them to tell others about Grand Rapids and come back to visit. “

As Grand Rapids continues to grow and evolve, so does the visitor experience, and thus how local businesses and organizations welcome visitors to the city.

“I believe the partnership between Grand Rapids Art Museum and Experience Grand Rapids in the formation of the new Welcome Center at GRAM is a perfect way to warmly welcome all visitors to Grand Rapids and Kent County,” said D. Neil Bremer, GRAM’s Chief Operating Officer. He continued, “Visitor Services staff in all museums find themselves recommending events, retail, and restaurants to visitors and we are the first partnership in the country to take that to the next level. Whether you are coming in to see an exhibition or to get a bus route map, we’re here to take care of your needs and help you find the best Grand Rapids has to offer. I find that very exciting!”

With the creation of the Welcome Center, GRAM is looking forward to continue helping re-invent how people experience Grand Rapids.

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