GREENVILLE — It’s a one-of-a-kind subterranean museum.
The Fred Meijer Flat River Trail Tunnel Museum was dedicated Tuesday to celebrate its completion. Many community members came together for the dedication including most people who helped bring the idea to life.
“The project speaks for itself,” said Pete Blinkilde, chairmen of the Greenville Area Community Foundation board.
The unique tunnel museum, which sinks beneath M-57 at the Maplewood intersection, consists of several panels filled with tiles hand-painted by Greenville Public Schools students, Montcalm Community College art students and the Montcalm Area Art Association.
The panels depict periods in Greenville’s history, from ancient times to the period when American Indians roamed the land to the present. The museum concept came to life with a committee of art teachers from Greenville Public Schools and Montcalm Community College’s art department, said Alison Barberi, president and CEO of the community foundation.
“It is tremendous,” Blinkilde said.
Barberi thanked everyone who helped put make the museum idea come to life.
It took about a 18 months to complete the tunnel museum, she said. Although the tunnel has been finished for a few months, it took time to plan the dedication.
Everyone bounced ideas off of each other, Barberi said of how to get the idea.
“We ended up with a beautiful museum piece in the tunnel,” she said.
Larry Hutchinson, owner of Hutchinson Studios in Farmington, was brought to Greenville to consult and help with the design.
“We had to take everything into account,” Hutchinson said about the process of designing the museum.
He said the idea was to include different elements into the museum to attract people alike.
“We wanted a universal design,” he said.
He said the museum has tiles in the middle of the display to depict the Flat River. Above the river are pictures to describe that time and underneath the river are items pressed into the clay.
A lot of research was put into the museum, Hutchinson said, to make sure the display is accurate.
“I am very proud to be a part of this process,” Hutchinson said.
Dan Welch, of Welch Tile and Marble in Kent City, said he chose to do this project because it was close to home.
“It was unique,” Welch said.
Welch said there were some challenges his crew had to face such as weather, the tunnel being unlevel, lighting and more.
But in the end, everything came together.
Mike Stafford, director of Cranbrook Institute of Science, said the museum was set to inspire people.
His thought was how to get a city history into a handful of titles.
“That footprint translates into other communities,” Stafford said. “I hope you’re as excited as I am. I am so pleased to be a part of it.”
The experience has been incredible for Barberi, she said. She was able to meet people throughout all the work that stood out to her.
Barber said the tunnel museum is unique for the community to celebrate the area’s heritage.
“It has been a wonderful journey,” Barberi said.