Shifting Shoreline Exhibit at Lakeshore Museum Center


Shifting Shoreline Exhibit at the Lakeshore Museum Center

By Joni Dorsett

Shifting Shoreline, a new exhibit which examines the changes to the Muskegon Lake shoreline over the past 200 years, is now on display at the Lakeshore Museum Center.

Animation and maps in the exhibit will show visitors how Muskegon Lake shrunk by 27% from the time of the lumbering industry to the present day. Early lumber barons saw the potential of using the Muskegon River to move timber down to their sawmills on Muskegon Lake where it could be sorted, cut and loaded onto ships to be transported on Lake Michigan. The lake became an easy place to send unwanted waste from production processes and the hardening of the shoreline began pushing out fish and wildlife.

Industries such as Chase Brothers Piano Company, Central Paper Company, and Continental Motors replaced the lumber mills along the shoreline. Businesses used fill to expand the shoreline out into Muskegon Lake to accommodate their needs.

The impact of mill and industrial debris on the lake habitat and shoreline wetlands was significant. Not only were wetlands filled with this debris, but habitat for fish spawning and nursery areas for young fish were eliminated. In 1985, it was designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern by the Environmental Protection Agency and restoration work began in phases and continues today.

A mock core sample created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration interprets what each decade of lake bottom might have looked like based on events occurring at the time. Equipment used to collect data and samples is displayed along with 12 types of invertebrates that are indicators of lake health as well as debris removed from the lake bottom. A video shows the changes to the shoreline decade by decade and a hands-on station offers visitors an opportunity to create a souvenir log mark.

This project has been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.Project partners include: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) restoration Center, West Michigan Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC), and Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI).

The Shifting Shoreline exhibit will be on display through May 2017 and family and adult programming to complement the exhibit with take place throughout its run. The Lakeshore Museum Center is located at 430 W. Clay Avenue in Muskegon and is open weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, call 231-722-0278 or visit


Categories: Fine Art

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