- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will be closed until next summer as crews install new permanent interactive exhibits and conduct renovations.

A ceremony was held Monday afternoon to place the final beam for the new DeVos Learning Center at the museum in Grand Rapids. The 8,000-square-foot DeVos Learning Center is set to be completed in fall 2016.

“Our hope is to teach our next generation of leaders the importance of leading with character and integrity, just as President Ford demonstrated with his leadership,” said Red Cavaney, who served on Ford’s White House staff and is chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.

The “topping-off ceremony” follows three years of planning by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum. More than $15 million was raised for projects, including the learning center and exhibit updates.

The aim is “to create conversations about the character and integrity of President and Mrs. Ford,” the museum said in a statement. The project also includes digitalization of important papers at Ford’s presidential library, which is located in Ann Arbor.

“The addition of the DeVos Learning Center will allow teachers to bring full classrooms into the museum to study history, civics and see first-hand the core values Mom and Dad shared throughout their lives,” Steven Ford, son of the late president, said in the release.

Steven Ford attended the ceremony with Cavaney, Amway co-founder Rich DeVos and others.

“I am proud to be a part of this important addition to West Michigan, which will inspire young minds and the leaders of tomorrow,” DeVos said.

Gerald Ford died in 2006, and former first lady Betty Ford died in 2011. They lived in Rancho Mirage, California, for decades. Their hometown was Grand Rapids, which Gerald Ford represented for years in the U.S. House.




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