Get to know Grand Rapids (and the world)

The Green GRAM

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Saturday I was fortunate to tour the Grand Rapids Art Museum with the finance director of the museum, Randy Van Antwerp.

He gave a behind-the-scenes tour to a group of about 20, show us very rarely seen places at the world’s first LEED art museum.

A lot of the stuff seemed fairly standard, in terms of energy efficiency.

But what blew my socks aways is the museum can go without city water for 10 months. It collects rain and snow melt and and stores it in giant tanks underneath the museum.

It’s a heck of building though, and really the LEED accreditation is made more amazing by the standards they must hold to qualify for loans and such of art.

They must maintain temperature within two degrees either side of 70, and a specific humidity. That takes a massive amount of energy to maintain those numbers.

Just a few years before Newsweek named Grand Rapids a dying city, it named the museum one of the six best new buildings of 2007. It received plenty more publicity from press across the country.

The temperature and humidity regulations system is quite amazing, and I’m still trying to figure out why the American art standards are so high when most other industries are so low.

Head to Europe and you’ll see horribly conditioned museums with artwork from the middle ages and it’s fine.

I just find it interesting. Regardless, the museum itself is a piece of art and much of the art inside is wonderful. Still, some of it, mostly some of the paint by number abstract art, I just don’t understand. Probably never will.

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