Select Items from the Ford Museum Artifact Collections
The Ford Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits a wide variety of items, which includes items from Gerald Ford's life and career, gifts received from heads of state and the public, and other objects that document American culture and history. More information about the museum holdings is available here.
Below are just a few examples of artifacts found in the Ford Museum's collections.
- Gerald R. Ford Sr. Revolver
- USS Mayaguez
- Omani Falcon
- Yonatan Netanyahu Memorial Award
- Burnt Piece of 1814 White House
- Benjamin Franklin Bust
- 1963 Barry Goldwater Michigan Fundraiser Wine Glasses
- Pulley Plaque
- Rock Jerry
- Scale model of 1975 Apollo Soyuz
- Commemorative Medallion
- Wolf-Skin Fur Coat
- Polish Cossack Doll
- The Bicentennial Jewel
- Roman Vessel
||(2012.24.1-.3) Gerald R. Ford developed an interest in government and politics from an early age due to his stepfather’s participation in local politics. His stepfather, Gerald R. Ford, Sr., became active in the Grand Rapids political scene during the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, Frank D. McKay (known as “Boss” McKay to many) had tremendous influence over the region’s politics. McKay, a self-made millionaire, built a political machine that came to dominate the state. Read more.
(2011.75.1-3) The international drama known as the “Mayaguez Incident” tested the resolve of our nation and our military in trying times. Drawn into the fray were two men who hailed from Grand Rapids. One took the reins and made the tough decisions from the highest office in the land, while the other entered harm’s way to implement the military response. Afterwards, both drew honors for their leadership and heroism. Read more.
Omani Falcon (1981.126)
This exquisite bird made of gold, diamonds, rubies, and silver, was given to President Gerald Ford when the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos Bin, visited the United States on January 13, 1975. Since the early 8th and 9th century, Falcons have played a major role in the Middle East. They stand as a symbol of rank and social standing. They were often used by lower classes to attain their food. Read more.
Yonatan Netanyahu Memorial Award (1989.29.1 a-b)
In June 1977 President Gerald Ford received the Yonatan Netanyahu Memorial Award from the American Friends of the University of Jerusalem. The award, in the form of a bronze plaque, includes a relief picture of Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, an Israeli who played a major role in the rescue of Jewish hostages in Entebbe, Uganda on July 4, 1976. Read more.
Burnt Piece of 1814 White House (2003.3)
This small, charred piece of wood was removed from the White House during the renovation in the early 1950s. The piece was believed to have been burnt in the 1814 White House fire started by the British. Read more.
Benjamin Franklin Bust (2007.8.14)
In 1923 a young Warren Burger sculpted a bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin. In 1969 Burger become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and his bust of Franklin came to the attention of the Franklin Mint. The Mint, headquartered in Franklin’s adopted home town of Philadelphia, cast twenty bronze and three silver copies of Burger’s work in 1987, entrusting them to the artist to give as gifts to whomever he wished. Read more.
1963 Barry Goldwater Michigan Fundraiser Wine Glasses (2007.345.2-5)
These glasses were used at a fundraiser for the 1963 campaign of Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. The $100 per-plate-dinner gave attendees a chance to mingle with many of Michigan’s elite, including Governor George Romney and Congressman Gerald R. Ford. The gathering was held in Ford’s home town, Grand Rapids, on November 24, 1963 at 7:30 p.m. Read more.
Pulley Plaque (1991.174)
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!
Oliver Wendell Holmes
From Old Ironsides 1830
On October 13, 1975 president Gerald R. Ford was presented with a plaque made from pieces of the naval warship the USS Constitution in celebration of the Bicentennial of the United States Navy. The plaque consists of a block of wood, an oval pulley, and a few copper pieces that were taken directly from the ship during her restoration in 1974. Read more.
Rock Jerry (1983.95)
This Bicentennial caricature of Gerald Ford was presented to future Vice President and Ford’s Chief of Staff, Dick Cheney, while he was on a trip to Philadelphia in September 1976. The sculpture, created by artist Michael Manning, weighs approximately 70 pounds and is made of Pennsylvania river stone. Read more.
Scale model of 1975 Apollo Soyuz (1992.3)
A scale model of Apollo-Soyuz presented to President Gerald R. Ford by cosmonauts Aleskei Leonov and Valeri Kubasov in the Oval Office on September 7, 1974. Read more.
Commemorative Medallion (1987.761 a-b)
This commemorative medallion was a gift to President Gerald R. Ford from Councilman Merle D. Gilliland and T. Mel Anderson, President of St. Mary’s College of California. Read more.
Wolf-Skin Fur Coat (1999.10)
President Gerald Ford received a wolf-skin fur coat from his friend, Jack Kim, an Alaskan furrier, when Air Force One stopped in Anchorage to refuel. Read more.
Polish Cossack Doll (1981.127)
The Polish Cossack doll, which stands approximately 22 inches high, was a gift of his Excellency Edward Gierek, first secretary of the Polish United Workers Party in Warsaw, Poland. Read more.
The Bicentennial Jewel (1983.24)
The Bicentennial Jewel is made of white gold, diamonds, rubies and sapphires and is in the shape of the official 1976 Bicentennial symbol. Read more.
Roman Vessel (1989.1157)
The Roman Vase is made of hand-blown glass, and painted brown. Read more.