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Museum partners with app for historic tours

Alex Doty • May 19, 2018 at 9:00 AM

There’s a new way to scope out history in the Tri-Cities, and it starts in the palm of your hand.

The Tri-Cities Historical Museum recently announced that it has partnered with the creators of the smartphone app Vamonde to offer a series of free historic walking tours throughout the Grand Haven area.

“I think it is going to be a tremendous opportunity,” said the local museum’s executive director, Julie Bunke. “It’s a very user-friendly program.”

The first published tour made available by the museum on the app is a tour of downtown Grand Haven. It features 11 stops with accompanying history about each location.

Locations featured in the first tour include First Reformed Church, Cutler House Hotel, W.C. Sheldon House, Akeley Building, Fortino’s, The Armory, Story & Clark, Ottawa County Courthouse/Central Park, The Kirby House and Grand Trunk Depot.

Tours can be accessed by downloading the app — available at both the Apple App store and Google Play store — to your smartphone or tablet and selecting nearby adventures.

Bunke said the app utilizes your smartphone’s location to guide and provide information about where you are along the tour.

“As you go along, it will recognize where you are on the map,” she said.

And, if you’ve completed the downtown tour or want to experience more of this area’s heritage, Bunke said additional tours will be made available on the app in the coming weeks. 

“We’re allowed to have five free tours at a time,” she said.

Bunke noted that the museum is not limited to how many they can have in their back catalog, which can be swapped in and out.

“We’re going to do several themed tours,” she said. “We’re working on that right now.”

Possibilities include tours of the waterfront area, dunes and historic homes, and even tours that are season-based.

“The possibilities are endless,” Bunke said.

The app could also offer possibilities for more information to be presented inside the museum via the use of Bluetooth beacons. These would work with the app to provide additional information about exhibits that go beyond what’s shown on a physical placard.

“We’re trying to make the museum much more inclusive for people who have a visual or hearing impairment,” Bunke said.

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