History Collection

The Furniture Collection is one of the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s most historically significant collections. Composed of approximately 2,000 pieces of furniture, mostly manufactured in Grand Rapids in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this collection is internationally recognized for its scope and completeness.

Over 400 companies are represented within the collection, including early cabinetmakers like William “Deacon” Haldane, large Victorian-era firms like Berkey & Gay and Nelson & Matter, huge producers like the Michigan Chair Company and Imperial Furniture Company, well known residential companies like Kindel and Baker Furniture, as well as the office furniture and fixed seating concerns that changed the industry during the twentieth century like Steelcase, Herman Miller, and the Irwin Seating Company.

The furniture collection features pieces by some of America’s most notable furniture designers and artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright, George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, David Wolcott Kendall, T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, George Nakashima, and Alois Lang.The furniture represents a wide variety of pieces from hand carved, one-of-a-kind pieces to mass produced, plastic and metal stadium seating.  Taken as a whole, these objects offer a striking material history of the furniture industry and by extension the history and culture of Grand Rapids and its surrounding communities.