Telling the Story of Meijer through its Archives and Heritage Center
Meijer, a family-owned, Midwestern supercenter chain, was renovating its corporate headquarters. The campus plan included a new Heritage Center to showcase Meijer’s transition from a small-town grocery into a regional supercenter. Meijer also wanted to move its company archives to a larger, more modern facility adjacent to the new museum. Throughout the project, History Associates worked closely with design firm Gallagher & Associates, company executives, and museum staff to help Meijer preserve and present its unique company history.
Exploring the Meijer Historical Archives
History Associates provided Meijer with a preliminary assessment and inventory of select historical materials to help the company prepare to move its archival collection to the new facilities. History Associates archivists visited the corporate headquarters to review Meijer’s collection, which was spread across several storage areas.
The assessment team inventoried more than 500 assets, also reviewing an estimated 230 linear feet of archival records and 230 linear feet of artifacts, artwork, promotional items, and other memorabilia. For each item, archivists created an identifying number and brief description, indicated the item’s location, and made note of any special conservation needs. They tagged and photographed historically significant objects so that they would receive special attention during the move. Archivists also marked items that could help tell Meijer’s story in the Heritage Center.
Telling the Meijer Story
Next, History Associates collaborated with Gallagher & Associates to develop content for the Heritage Center exhibits. Working with Meijer employees, History Associates researchers and writers crafted the story of the company. Centered on the artifacts selected from the Meijer Historical Archives, the exhibits explore the core values and history of Meijer, from its beginnings through its expansion across Michigan and into five other states.
History Associates historians developed exhibit concepts, researched and developed content, identified artifacts, wrote panel text, and acquired images for the 5,000-square-foot museum. Researchers also provided content suggestions and media assets for interactive exhibits.
Enhancing the Story with the Archives
One of the most important collections in the Meijer Historical Archives is correspondence received over the years from customers, employees, and suppliers. They include letters to Fred Meijer, son of the company founder. These original documents, highlighted in an exhibit called “Legacy of Letters”, demonstrate Meijer’s longtime commitment to community engagement. Multimedia touchpads along with the original letters allow visitors to view those relationships up close. Other exhibits present memorabilia from the years when the company operated under the name Thrifty Acres. Video testimonials feature former and current employees who continue to craft Meijer’s legacy. They highlight the family-owned company’s focus on quality products, customer service, competitive pricing, innovation, health and wellness, and community investment.
The Meijer Heritage Center opened in September 2016 and continues to inform and inspire employees, their families, and members of the public. Enthusiastic comments from Heritage Center visitors reflect History Associates’ effectiveness in finding and presenting information and artifacts from Meijer history in a way that speaks deeply to company culture. One visitor noted, “FANTASTIC exhibits-Very Well Done!!! It’s good to see Meijer people still honor the family and company history.”
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Call us at (301) 279-9697 or contact History Associates for a customized proposal.