Current Exhibits

The “Hotel Ottawa: Illuminating History” exhibit tells the story of when the hotel opened in 1886 and how the growing middle class had both time and money to travel.
At the same time, America was entering the Second Industrial Revolution, aka the Electric Revolution. This would progressively elevate the hotel experience and change the American way of life.
The Museum building, originally an isolated electric power plant, and the big Deming water pump are the two most significant artifacts which remain from the hotel.
This exhibit explores how these innovations affected the world in general and Holland, Michigan, in particular.

The “Sparking Change” exhibit explores innovations in communication, transportation, recreation, and mechanization, which sparked a transformation in many aspects of the American way of life.

Visitors will be challenged to send and receive telegraph messages in Morse code and can also learn about the funicular inclined railway on the Macatawa side of the Holland channel. They can even marvel at the earliest motion pictures from the 1890s and early 1900s.

The biggest artifact in the Sparking Change exhibit is an unrestored 1921 Ford Model T. At an interactive display, visitors can learn about the complicated process of starting a Model T, and then try on the interactive. Those who successfully follow the steps will hear the sound of a Model T starting up.

Digital displays in both galleries have information about the Big Red lighthouse, Lakewood Farm and Jenison Electric Amusement Park, and the Kids Corner with hundreds of examples of student art and writing projects about the history of our area. Visitors can look at themselves in the Fun House mirrors, or ride the roller coaster car which displays a video of a 1920’s figure 8 roller coaster.

How to light up the Hotel Ottawa

The newest interactive display in the Pump House Museum and Learning Center describes the isolated electric generating plant which was installed in the Museum building in 1901.

The video ‘How to light up the Hotel Ottawa’ highlights the various parts of this interpretive exhibit.

The central part of the exhibit is a very intricate and detailed working model of an early steam powered electric generating plant. When visitors to the Museum spin the handle on the exhibit, they’ll see the antique generator in action – and the lights on the big postcard of the Hotel Ottawa will light up