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Michigan Women's Hall of Fame on the move

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Moving day at the Cooley Haze House

A museum dedicated to honoring Michigan women is moving to a new home, near to the food court in a Lansing area shopping mall.

Last week, movers were busy loading cardboard boxes at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame. For 3 decades, the museum has called the Cooley Haze House home.   But the building, overlooking downtown Lansing from its perch next to General Motors Grand River assembly plant, is showing signs of its age. 

Interim Executive Director Caitlyn Perry Dial says it’s time to move.

“Where we are right now we don’t get a lot of foot traffic and our parking is limited.  The building is not really very accessible for those who have accessibility needs,” says Dial, “so going to Meridian Mall we really felt like that was the best place for us to go and where we’ll find those things.”

The museum’s board has been looking at relocating since 2015.  

Nevertheless, Dial admits the move to the Meridian Mall in nearby Okemos was not an easy decision, especially since the decision to go had to be made quickly earlier this year.  

“We were standing at the edge of a cliff and wondering ‘should we go? Should we not go?’” says Dial, “and we kind of had that shove and we have to do it.”

Dial admits it’s a bit of financial gamble. The Women’s Historical Center is in the midst of a big fundraising push to pay for added employees to staff the mall location and provide additional security for its collection. The center is also having to put more of its collection in storage.

Dial is optimistic a more visible location will result in more individual and foundation donations. 

The Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame will have a ‘soft’ open next month at the Meridian Mall.   A formal grand opening is scheduled in June.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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