Things To Do
Grand Rapids is a vibrant and energetic city on your average day, and ArtPrize® cranks that to 11. Art is everywhere you look, local businesses and restaurants are transformed into ArtPrize Venues, and some of the region’s most prestigious educational and cultural institutions open their doors as Exhibition Centers.
The central event is the Public Vote, and the number one thing to do during ArtPrize is see incredible art by Artists from all over the world—and vote for who you think should win the $200,000 First Prize!
But ArtPrize is more than the competition itself. From rich educational programming to intimate Q&A sessions to full-blown parties, there’s something for everyone to learn, experience, and celebrate.
Explore the full ArtPrize Events calendar.
In Grand Rapids
Although ArtPrize may seem to take over the entire city for a few weeks, there are still lots of other things going on in downtown Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas during ArtPrize—from great local food and exceptional craft beer to downtown shopping, music, and entertainment. Plus, with biking, hiking, fishing, and an abundance of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts within the area and the beautiful West Michigan coast just 30 minutes away, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re traveling to ArtPrize from out of town, fear not—it’s pretty easy to get here. Grand Rapids is less than three hours from Detroit or Chicago, and less than six hours from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Toronto. Also, the Gerald R. Ford International airport is only 20 minutes from downtown, and Greyhound and Amtrak stop in the heart of the city.
Travel to Grand Rapids
- Plane: Gerald R. Ford International Airport
- Train: Amtrak Grand Rapids
- Bus: Greyhound and The Rapid
- Car: Google Maps
You'll find car rentals from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National/Alamo on the first level of the parking garage at the Gerald R. Ford Airport, just steps from the baggage claim. Or, ride The Rapid, Grand Rapid’s city bus system, from the airport to downtown. Taxis are also available within the city.
More information about transportation options can be found at experienceGR.com.
Meijer Park and Ride
If you’re traveling from the outskirts of Grand Rapids and want to avoid parking downtown, you can leave your car at one of several area Meijer stores and ride The Rapid (Grand Rapids’ excellent bus system) to ArtPrize!
Stop inside Meijer and pick up an ArtPrize Wristband (2 for $5!) to enjoy unlimited rides on the DASH and all Rapid buses for the duration of ArtPrize. (Wristbands are also available at the HUB and all Exhibition Centers.)
|Riding From:||Take This Bus:|
2425 Alpine NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Gaines Township Meijer
1801 Marketplace SW, Gaines Twp, MI 49316
3434 Century Center SW, Grandville, MI 49418
Grandville & Rivertown
Knapp’s Corner Meijer
1997 E Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
315 Wilson NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Route 7 & Route 12
West Leonard (7) West Fulton (12)
(Note: These routes do not run on Sundays)
28th Street/Kalamazoo Ave Meijer
1540 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
54th Street/Clyde Park Meijer
5500 Clyde Park SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
Visit ridetherapid.org or call 616-776-1100 for scheduled times and a bus stop locator.
Once you’re here, there are plenty of places to stay, including several hotels right downtown in the middle of all the action.
For a full list of area hotels, visit experienceGR.com.
The Public Vote
At ArtPrize, spectators and visitors like you take an active role as judge and critic, and an unprecedented top prize is determined solely by public vote. Artists from all across the globe travel to Grand Rapids and bring their artwork to compete for the world’s largest art prize—and you determine the winners!
Here’s how it works:
During Round 1 of voting, every entry at every Venue in the ArtPrize District is in the running for the big prizes. See as much art as humanly possible and vote for the Entries you think are most worthy of the top prize. Round 1 opens at noon on September 18th and goes until 11:59pm on September 28th.
Public Vote Rankings & Juror Short Lists
During Round 1, ArtPrize releases a Public Vote Top 25, Top 50, and Top 100 list, tracking the frontrunners in real time on September 24th. See the art everyone else is talking about—or stir up buzz about your favorite Entry to boost their chance of making it into the Top Ten!
The Juror Short Lists are released at the same time, allowing the art experts who will be deciding the Juried Awards (see below) to have their say in the public conversation. These lists draw attention to the artwork the jurors believe is most worthy of the big cash prizes. This event is not to be missed and will occur on Septemeber 23rd.
Top Ten Announcement
When Round 1 closes, the ten Artist Entries with the most Round 1 votes are announced and move on to Round 2. The Top Ten, announced on September 29th, are guaranteed an award, and any Entry that doesn’t make the Top Ten is no longer in the running for Public Vote Prizes.
During Round 2, you have one final vote to cast: of the Top Ten, choose the one Entry you think is most deserving of the $200,000 First Prize. When Round 2 closes, the votes are tallied and the winners are announced at the ArtPrize Awards! Round 2 begins directly after the Top Ten Announcement at 2pm on September 29th and goes until October 3rd at 11:59pm.
A contest within the contest, ArtPrize presents six Juried Awards—five for Artists and one for a Venue. These awards include: 2-Dimensional, 3-Dimensional, Time Based, Best Use of Urban Space, Best Venue, and the Juried Grand Prize. Chosen by internationally acclaimed art experts, the Juried Awards put critical favorites in the spotlight and add to the public conversation about what makes good art. The Juried Awards are decided completely separate from the Public Vote.
Sign Up & Check In
To vote at ArtPrize, the first step is to sign up for an artprize.org account. Simply provide an individual e-mail address and choose a password, or, to make things even easier, you can sign up using your Facebook account—just one click and you’re done.
Once you’re signed up, or if you already have an artprize.org account, you just need to check in at the event.
Option 1: One Time Check-in at a Voting Site
Visit the ArtPrize HUB, any Exhibition Center, or another Voting Site and present a government-issued photo ID (either a driver’s license, state ID, or passport). That’s it! While you’re there, we’ll make sure you have everything you need to get the most out of ArtPrize.
*For a full list of Voting Sites, click here.
Option 2: One Time Check-in using the ArtPrize Mobile app
Skip the line and use the free ArtPrize app for iPhone and Android phones to check in on the go! If your phone has built-in GPS, the app will automatically ask if you would like to check in once you’ve crossed into the ArtPrize district. Click “Yes” and you’re done!
- You must be at least 16 years old to sign up and check in to vote at ArtPrize.
- You must have an individual e-mail address to sign up for an ArtPrize account. If you don’t have an e-mail address, visit mail.google.com to create a free Gmail account, or go to the HUB at 41 Sheldon and an ArtPrize volunteer will help you create one.
- If you check in at a Voting Site, you must bring a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. No other form of ID will be accepted.
- Read the Official Rules for Voters for more detailed information.
How To Vote
- Sign up for an artprize.org account.
- Check in to ArtPrize by visiting a Voting Site or by using the ArtPrize App (for iPhone or Android).
- Go out and explore ArtPrize Venues and Exhibition Centers to see as much art as you can!
We’ve made the voting process really simple. Each Artist Entry is displayed with an Artist Label that includes the title of the Entry, the Artist name, and a unique five-digit Artist Vote Code. Use this code to vote for your favorite entries. It’s easy.
You can vote three ways:
- Online: Sign in to your artprize.org account and find the art you’ve seen and liked, then simply click the thumbs-up icon beside an Entry to cast your vote.
- Text message: Vote on the go by texting Artist Vote Codes to 808080. To vote by text, add your mobile phone number to your artprize.org account and follow the simple set up instructions in the confirmation text message.
- Mobile app: If you have a smartphone, download the free ArtPrize app for iPhone or Android to make voting super easy as you explore the event.
After you’ve voted, you can view your voting history online—and easily change your vote—by signing in to your account on artprize.org. If you vote by text message, you’ll also receive a confirmation of each vote by text as required by your texting service. Text message votes will appear in your online voting history on artprize.org shortly after.
You can change your votes at any time during Round 1. During Round 2, you can change your final vote up until the end. Go out and see art, and have fun!
The ArtPrize HUB
Located at 41 Sheldon Blvd SE, the ArtPrize HUB is the perfect place to begin exploring all that ArtPrize has to offer.
- Sign up to vote and check in
- Grab a free map (when you register to vote)
- Pick up a copy of the Event Guide
- Buy an ArtPrize Wristband for unlimited shuttle and bus rides during the event
- Shop the ArtPrize Store
- Get help—from how to vote to recommendations for lunch
- Take a break in the public lounge areas
- Enjoy free WiFi
As the official ArtPrize HQ, the HUB also serves as home base for all ArtPrize Volunteers and provides a private lounge, concierge service, and other resources for competing Artists.
The ArtPrize HUB open hours:
Monday thru Saturday 11am - 8pm
Sunday 11am - 6pm
*The HUB closes at 6pm on Friday October 4th
During ArtPrize, the whole city of Grand Rapids is an art gallery. Large or small, indoors or out, any space within the ArtPrize district can register as a venue to host artist exhibitions and visitors from around the world. You’ll find ArtPrize Entries everywhere—from world-renowned museums and private galleries to public parks, restaurants, and local coffee shops.
You can browse all Venues online, or pick up a copy of the Event Guide and Map at the ArtPrize HUB or any of the Exhibition Centers for a complete listing of participating locations.
Here are a few suggestions about where to start exploring:
The area’s finest cultural and educational institutions anchor the event with major art installations, public transportation stops, Voting Sites, ArtPrize gear, Event Guides, restrooms, and so much more. These must-see Venues will have the highest concentration of artwork on display and provide additional resources for visitors. Learn more about the Exhibition Centers.
A small number of Venues are selected each year as Showcase Venues. Featuring curated art installations in distinctive settings, these Venues promise an intriguing experience for ArtPrize visitors and are not to be missed. Learn more about the Showcase Venues.
Sponsored City Sites
Each year, the Downtown Development Authority and the City of Grand Rapids makes several City parks, landmarks, and other public spaces available as curated ArtPrize Venues.
Exhibition Centers & Showcase Venues
- Monday – Saturday: Noon – 8:00 p.m.
- Sunday: Noon – 6:00 p.m.
All Other Venues
- Monday – Thursday: 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Friday & Saturday: Noon – 8:00 p.m.
- Sunday: Noon – 6:00 p.m.
Many Venues have hours that extend beyond the required minimums listed here. Specific venue hours are available on each Venue Profile.
The ArtPrize district spans three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, MI, and any space within its boundary can be an ArtPrize Venue. Within the ArtPrize district, you’ll find communities as diverse as the art itself.
The tidy cobblestone stretch of the Monroe Center Walking Mall welcomes visitors with artistry, innovative ideas, and character. Explore a Wolverine Worldwide retail site outfitted with items salvaged from the shoe leather tannery in Rockford, Michigan, where Hush Puppies and Wolverine boots were originally made. Or visit Central District Cyclery, an urban bike shop that caters to experienced riders, novice cyclists, and bike enthusiasts. Be sure to stop by the statue of Rosa Parks and take a moment to appreciate Rosa Parks Circle. Designed by Maya Lin, the renowned architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., it fulfills her vision to create a “green respite in the heart of the city.” See Venues in Center City.
The story of Heartside is one of hope, cultural diversity, and revitalized businesses. Today, it provides an atmosphere where artists can flourish and people who need compassion can seek assistance from a variety of upstanding community services. In 2005, a group of residential, commercial, and nonprofit groups banded together to create “Avenue for the Arts,” a vibrant section of the South Division commercial corridor. A community of inventive thinkers, Avenue for the Arts helps sustain artists by developing public projects including murals made by local residents, creative works by local art students, and installations in vacant storefronts. Heartside is also home to The HUB @ 41 Sheldon, a.k.a. ArtPrize headquarters. See Venues in the Heartside neighborhood.
Hillside encompasses the Heritage Hill Association, one of the country’s largest urban historic districts. Founded in 1968 to preserve the oldest residential neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Heritage Hill features hundreds of historic homes significant to the architectural community. Aficionados can take self-guided or public tours showcasing more than 60 architectural traditions including Dutch Colonial, Italianate, Greek, Gothic, and Prairie. The most famous example of Prairie style within the neighborhood is the Meyer May House, built in 1908 by Frank Lloyd Wright and restored by Steelcase during the 1980s. Touring Heritage Hill provides an opportunity to view art surrounded by the architecture that shaped the 20th century. See Venues in the Hillside neighborhood.
Atop the bluffs of Belknap Hill sits a neighborhood with a view of the past and a vision of the city’s future. Victorian homes built by furniture craftsmen nestle alongside the sparkling health facilities of the Medical Mile, where Spectrum Health System, Van Andel Research Institute, and the 14-floor Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital are quickly transforming the city into a pioneer in world-class health care and cancer research. The North Monroe business district once produced some of the finest cabinetry and handcrafted furnishings in the country. Now refurbished to resemble their original design, these former manufacturing sites house state-of-the- art office spaces, chic taprooms, art galleries, and upscale salons. See Venues in the Monroe North/Belknap neighborhood.
Thousands of artifacts from ancient and recent times are housed in the two museums along the Grand River. The Grand Rapids Public Museum features a planetarium, a working 1928 carousel overlooking the river, a recreated street from historic Grand Rapids, and diverse exhibits on the area’s Native people, habitats, and furniture industry. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum celebrates our 38th president, a Grand Rapids native. Highlights include a replica of the Oval Office, interactive Cabinet room, relics from the 1970s and Vietnam War, and other artifacts from Ford’s presidency. The Westside is also the center of Grand Rapids’ Latino community, with many Spanish- speaking businesses and organizations serving the area’s growing population. See Venues in the Westside neighborhood.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park grew out of the West Michigan Horticultural Society’s wish to promote understanding and appreciation for gardens, art, and most importantly, the natural environment. Covering 132 acres of natural wetlands, woodlands, and meadows, The Gardens blends art with nature, integrating sculptures throughout the site. Besides the critically acclaimed sculpture garden, the site features miles of nature trails and boardwalks and an amphitheater which hosts major recording artists. The popular Children’s Garden welcomes young visitors with interactive stations and a playhouse, a perfect place for imaginations to run wild. Tours are offered daily, and a café and gift shop are also located on the site.
*Meijer Gardens is the only Venue outside the boundaries of ArtPrize. It is located at 1000 East Beltline NE. Only the ArtPrize Exhibition Center is free to the public.
Start at the HUB or any Voting Site and check in to get your free copy of the ArtPrize map. Whether you prefer to walk, bike, or ride, it’s easy to get around Grand Rapids and get close to the ArtPrize action.
During ArtPrize, buy an ArtPrize Wristband (2 for $5!) at the ArtPrize HUB, any Exhibition Center, or one of several area Meijer stores to gain unlimited rides on the DASH and all Rapid buses for the duration of the event.
The Downtown Area Shuttle provides the best transportation in the downtown area. DASH West and DASH to the Hill offer a great east-west connection, and the DASH has partnered with ArtPrize to link the DASH North and DASH South routes to create a single north-south transit line during ArtPrize. Grab a copy of the ArtPrize Event Guide or check the blog for schedules, maps, and more details closer to the event.
The Rapid Buses
The Rapid, Grand Rapids’ excellent bus system, offers routes throughout the greater Grand Rapids area. Visit ridetherapid.org on your computer or mobile device for schedules, maps, and quick search tools including Nearest Stop, Next Bus, and a handy Trip Planner that make it easy to visit ArtPrize and explore the city. More information can be found in your Event Guide.
The DASH and all Rapid buses are wheelchair-accessible. ADA service animals are permitted on all transit. A complete list of Rapid mobility services is available here.
ArtPrize Walking Tours
With its bridges, riverside walkway, parks, and sidewalks, Grand Rapids is a pedestrian-friendly community, and the entire downtown is open to ArtPrize. To help visitors explore on foot, we’ve created a series of walking paths that will take you past ArtPrize Exhibition Centers and venues, along with many of the city’s finest natural features, landmarks, restaurants, and shops.
Start your journey at Rosa Parks Circle, choose a neighborhood, and follow the walking path markers on the sidewalks. And if a particular piece of art, Venue, or restaurant entices you to stray off the path, so be it. That’s one of the many reasons it’s so enjoyable to experience ArtPrize on foot—you never know what you’ll find along the way.
For maps of each route and more information about the ArtPrize Walking Tours, pick up a copy of the Event Guide at the HUB or any Exhibition Center.
ArtWalk is a three-mile group walking tour through the heart of downtown, and it’s a great way to kick off your weekend. Walkers are advised to bring drinking water and wear comfortable shoes. You can find more information about this annual sponsored event on the Events calendar.
Take your bike out to explore ArtPrize and avoid the hassle of parking! With nearly 1,000 bicycle parking spaces available throughout downtown Grand Rapids, you can almost always find a safe and convenient spot to lock up on the street, in a ramp, or in a lot. Spots are particularly prevalent around college campuses—GRCC, Ferris/KCAD, WMU, Cooley Law School, Douglas J Aveda Institute, GVSU—and all Grand Rapids museums.
Furthermore, all DASH and Rapid buses are equipped with bike racks to make it easy to transfer your bike to and from ArtPrize. Read more about bringing your bicycle on the Rapid.
ArtFitness Bike Tour
Learn how to exercise your body and mind by exploring the core questions that guide you through a discusion about art. This bike tour will glide through Grand Rapids three times throughout the 19 days and is a great introduction to ArtPrize. Check the blog and Events calendar for more information about the ArtFitness Bike Tour.
ArtPrize is committed to connecting visitors with all abilities to the world of art. Of 169 venues, 129 are self-identified as being handicap accessible. ArtPrize advocates for venues to be physically accessible for all visitors.
In addition to the 129 self-identified venues, we know that ALL of our Exhibition Centers are ADA handicap accessible. To explore accessible venues click here.
ArtPrize : Description of our Event Site
The ArtPrize boundary covers a 3 square mile radius. Our hope is that, by using the accessible transportation options provided by The DASH and Rapid buses, you are able to see as much of ArtPrize as possible! We welcome suggestions and feedback about how to be more accessible, it is very important to us that ArtPrize is experienced by everyone. If there is something we are missing, we look to you to point it out as we move forward and plan future events.