Art in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids has long been a mecca for creators and admirers of art. In the 19th century, we were known as "Furniture City" for the artistry of our fine wood furniture. In the 20th century, we made art an integral element of the city's identity, starting with the very first public project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. And in this century, we've revolutionized the global art scene with ArtPrize, the world's richest, most radically open art competition. Grand Rapids is also home to one of the world's 100 most visited art museums, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of the Top 30 Must-See Museums on the planet.
In late September and early October of each year, 1,500+ artists from around the world display their work in every corner of downtown Grand Rapids - and more than 400,000 visitors vote on which artist will receive the $200,000 grand prize. This is ArtPrize, a cultural event like no other - named one of the world's top five festivals by Time magazine.
Grand Rapids also hosts a number of annual festivals beyond ArtPrize, showcasing all manner of art:
- LaughFest (March), a 10-day, community-wide celebration of the art of comedy
- Art.Downtown. (April), a gallery, studio and shop hop featuring the work of 100s of local artists
- Grand Rapids Film Festival (April), focusing on unique independent cinema
- Festival of Faith and Writing (April), with workshops and well-known guest speakers
- Heritage Hill Home Tours (May), honoring the art of historic preservation
- Festival of the Arts (June), a three-day street party highlighting visual, performing and culinary arts
- Various music festivals: Blues on the Mall (June-August); City Lights Music Festival (Electronica - July); GRandJazzFest (August); and more
Grand Rapids is home to three top-notch art institutions: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of the world's 100 most visited art museums; Grand Rapids Art Museum, internationally known for its distinguished, earth-friendly design; and Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts, which focuses on cutting-edge visual art, film, performance, music, and more.
Stroll the sidewalks of downtown Grand Rapids to see all kinds of art - starting with "La Grande Vitesse," the 42-ton, 32-foot high, bright-red sculpture by acclaimed artist Alexander Calder. The very first public art project partially funded by the National Endowment for the Art, the Calder (as it is commonly known) has become the symbol of Grand Rapids and its creative spirit. Take a walking tour of downtown's outdoor art.
The Art of Live Music
A thriving local music scene finds expression in clubs and bars throughout the city, from live jazz nights to "acoustic stews." Outdoor concerts run the gamut from free "Blues on the Mall" events in downtown GR to a Summer Concert Series on the lush grounds of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Check out upcoming music events.
Professional ballet, opera and symphony companies, several outstanding community theatres, and a variety of performance venues ensure a steady stream of top-flight entertainment - from La Boheme to Lady Gaga to Les Miserables.
The Business of Art
Grand Rapids is the center of the office furniture industry, which marries design and commerce. Local companies including Steelcase, Haworth and Herman Miller shape the future of the global workplace.
Downtown's Kendall College of Art & Design is a nationally prominent school offering a broad range of creative degrees, including furniture design, metals & jewelry design, digital media and fashion studies. Stop by to see student art, displayed throughout Kendall's public spaces. Non-professional artists can learn tips and techniques at Grand Rapids Art Museum, Brush Studio and Wine & Canvas.
Ideas to Discover Art in Grand Rapids
- Family Fun
- Food in Grand Rapids
- Beer City, USA
- Art In Grand Rapids
- Historic Sites
- Grand Rapids Outdoor Recreation
- Tours & Experiences
- Winter Activities & Holiday Events