Grand Rapids Public Museum blends technology, pop culture in successful exhibition


GVL / Jonathan Lantiegne

Allison Rafferty, Staff Writer

Since the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s exhibition “Popnology” opened in May, it has seen huge success with the Grand Rapids community. 

The name “POPnology” comes from the combination of pop culture and technology. The exhibition was curated to celebrate the ways that science fiction and pop culture have intertwined with, and evolved into, science fact. 

With over a dozen interactive games and modules, visitors can engage in operating robots, building creations with wooden blocks, building rockets, and more. 

GRPM Marketing Manager Alee’a Cherry described POPnology as having a unique approach of blending popular culture with the idea of evolving technology. 

“The exhibit includes nostalgic moments through some of the pop culture and technology references, and dives deep into what movies, TV, and books predicted and what maybe they weren’t exactly correct about,” Cherry said.

Cherry said that POPnology is a great place for tactile learners. 

Among many other modules and presentations are a giant Lite-Brite that visitors of all ages can enjoy making artwork with, and a photo booth with unique, digital backdrops that allows visitors to send their pictures directly to their email for free. 

POPnology is just as educational as it is entertaining. There are stations located throughout the exhibit where visitors can build a rocket to launch to Mars, control NASA’s Mars Rover to collect data points, and engage in virtual reality experiences. 

Along with the modules, games, and interactive stations, POPnology also features iconic replicas. Visitors will encounter icons from popular sci-fi movies including E.T., R2D2, the Terminator and the Delorean time machine. 

“We hope this exhibit sparks curiosity within visitors of all ages, while encouraging them to learn more about the science field and to activate their creativity to push boundaries for what is possible,” Cherry said. “This exhibit features pioneers in the science field and showcases how a simple idea can become something that’s ingrained within society, such as the cellphone. POPnology even displays the evolution of cellphones through engaging interactives.” 

Community members of all ages have the opportunity to attend this unique learning experience. 

GRPM’s Board Level Committee selected the exhibit because of its theme and appeal to the entire Grand Rapids community. 

“POPnology is a great exhibit for the Grand Rapids community because it appeals to people of all ages, whether they’re familiar with the movies and experience nostalgia in the exhibit or whether they simply enjoy the interactives and the atmosphere,” Cherry said. “There’s truly something for everyone.”

Members of GRPM receive free admission to POPnology during ArtPrize, now through Oct. 3. The public can also add on POPnology tickets to their visit for $5. 

As a thank you for the millage that was passed by taxpayers to support the GRPM, Kent County adults receive reduced general admission and free parking, and Kent County kids enjoy free general admission.

“The Museum strives to bring in a diverse range of exhibits related to science, history and culture to appeal to visitors of all ages,” Cherry said. 

Cherry said that POPnology has received exceptional feedback from the public, with visitors calling the exhibit a “must see.” Tickets can be purchased through the GRPM website. 

The exhibit will be at the museum until Jan. 2022.