The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is part of the Presidential Libraries System of the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency. Unlike most other presidential libraries and museums, Ford's are two geographically separate buildings. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Presidential Museum are located approximately 130 miles (210 km) apart.
The Presidential Library is located at 1000 Beal Avenue on the north campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where Ford was a student and football player. The Presidential Museum however, is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan at 303 Pearl Street NW (at Scribner Street), near Grand Valley State University's Pew Campus in Grand Rapids, on the banks of the Grand River. Despite the physical separation, the library and museum are a single institution with one director.
The 44,000-square-foot (4,100 m2) two-story triangular museum was designed by Marvin DeWinter Associates and built at a cost of $11 million. The museum is one of the highlights in a 20-acre (81,000 m2) park complex that includes the Grand Rapids Public Museum along the West Bank of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids. The building was dedicated September 18, 1981 with a gala celebration attended by President and Mrs. Reagan, President José López Portillo of Mexico, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sunao Sonoda, former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Bob Hope served as master of ceremonies and part of the festivities were recorded for TV broadcast.