Boyne City’s new museum planning nears end of first phase

museum plan web
Boyne City's new museum should tell a story. And, everything from pre-history to a modern portrait of Boyne could be included in the city’s historical time-line.


Those interested in the future of Boyne City’s history saw the latest overview of the planning process last week.

City and museum officials, along with their planner Joe Hines, of Project Arts & Ideas, updated the community on Boyne’s proposed historical museum project.

“Today’s another exciting day in the history of Boyne City,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain during the Wednesday Oct. 4 meeting. “Not only are we celebrating Boyne’s history, but we’re making some new history as well.”


Cain said the new city hall facility has given Boyne an opportunity to start over with its museum.

“We had a museum in our old facility, it was nice—it had a lot of really interesting artifacts—but, as this building came together, and as we looked at the space we have downstairs … a number of people came to the conclusion that Boyne could probably do better.”

He added, “We put the construction of the museum space downstairs on hold.”

Cain said the space is open for the community to determine how it wants to tell the history of Boyne City.

The status of the museum planning is currently near the end of phase one.

There will be three more phases before the museum opens; they will include a more developed design and construction among other numerous tasks.

Museum officials plan to create a non-profit to oversee operations of the museum.

“It’s been a real, real joy and truly an honor to be witnessing the development of this building and everything else,” Hines told the audience of nearly two dozen.

Hines said he has been working with many Boyne folks to learn their vision for the museum.

“We’re working on planning and development really right now,” Hines said. “The simple way to see planning is the analysis, study of the creation of a general sense of space within the facility; the development is more the gathering up and shaping of content for your future museum.”

Hines said the next phase is conceptual design and will give an architectural shape to things.

The third phase, which is a ways down the line, is production design—where actual refinements at the architectural level, vendors, contractors will begin taking over their aspect of the project. At that point, Hines said he will act as a project manager.

Hines said he has toured the region and reviewed local historical materials in addition to attending some open houses in order to learn more about Boyne City’s history.

Hines said museums are great for first impressions and inspiring impressions but that longer explanations should be sought in books and magazines.

Hines said museum planners should always be thinking of visitors when designing the space as well as the exhibits.

He also said the design should create an expressive experience for visitors.

“Museum exhibits are communications, they aren’t stuff,” he said. “They are ultimately for getting across stories, getting across messages.”

Hines added, “And, the last thing: a good exhibit really should offer some surprises. It should be something that is just unpredictable.”

Hines said you can surprise people in various ways such as posing questions to get folks to think about the exhibit further.

Things to keep in mind are what the old museum was, which Hines called a gathering of objects without much communication.

Hines said the old focus was on the boom period, with most objects and imagery in the museum focused on a short time-frame and narrow demographic.

“I would almost say it’s not history but the presentation of an era,” Hines said. “I’m looking forward to stretch out the story-line which is literally thousands of years.”

Everything from pre-history to a modern portrait of Boyne could be included in the city’s historical time-line.

Hines also said the museum used to be off to the side and less of a featured site. He also said adequate security will be necessary in the new museum to ensure the safety of Boyne’s artifacts.

The name of the new museum was also addressed. It had been called the Boyne City Historical Museum but there are considerations to call it “The Boyne Heritage Center.”

“It’s a very current approach and embracing Boyne City of course but it also embraces more than the exhibit,” Hines said.

According to Hines, the greater geographic region should be considered when telling Boyne’s story. He said this could mean elements of history from Ironton, Horton Bay, Walloon Lake, and even East Jordan should be considered to determine if they fit with Boyne City’s history.

The museum should also make people feel like they’ve been transported to another time and place.

Hines said there is still much design work to be done but that there should be a visual feature which creates a splash for visitors as they enter the museum.

Elements in the new museum could include maps from the 1800s, an antique timepiece, the door from an old jail, information about the early indigenous peoples, critical infrastructure, the city’s logging boom period, information from the decline period following The Great Depression, pieces which illustrate Smeltania, and items and information dealing with Boyne City’s rebirth and rebuilding up through contemporary Boyne.

Phase two of the museum planning process will be announced at a future date. For more information, contact Boyne City Historical Museum Manager Kecia Freed