Hope College students and faculty are adding an out-of-this-world touch to a unique exhibition in Grand Rapids that is involving more than 200 artists from seven area colleges and art institutions.

They are among the contributors to "Michigan - Land of Riches:  Re-Examining the Old Grand Rapids Public Museum," a one-of-a-kind exhibition opening in the old Grand Rapids Public Museum building - and featuring installations specific to the location and its history--on Friday, April 16.

"This is a really unique opportunity," said Bill Mayer, professor of art and coordinator of Hope's participation.  "It's an unusual faculty-student collaboration, and it's going to be seen by thousands of people.  This will be a major event."

The art deco building, which opened in 1939, housed the museum until replaced by the current Van Andel Museum Center in 1994.  The exhibition, which will present work by student and faculty collaborative groups, will occupy two floors of the building, including 13 gallery and exhibition spaces, the laboratory and offices.  The projects will incorporate museum specimens, artifacts, interactive displays and dioramas from the museum's collections.  The exhibition is curated and the project directed by Paul Amenta, who is an assistant professor of sculpture and functional art at Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University.

Mayer noted that Hope's installation is responding to the tradition of UFO sightings in the state.

"There are reported sightings as far back as the 1800s," he said.  "There's a rich history, and we're having a lot of fun with this."

The Old Grand Rapids Public Museum is located at 54 Jefferson Ave. in Grand Rapids.

The exhibition will open with a reception on Friday, April 16, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and there will be an open house with family activities on Saturday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m.  Additional opportunities to tour the exhibition will include a "Brown Bag Lunch Series" on Thursdays, April 22, April 29, May 6 and May 13 from noon to 2 p.m.; and a community open house on Saturday, May 15, from noon to 5 p.m.  Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

In addition to Hope, the participating institutions are Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art & Design, the University of Michigan and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts' ArtWorks program.