• Kalamazoo Direct to You

    Kalamazoo Direct to You

About the Exhibit

Immerse yourself in the stories that made Kalamazoo famous and shaped who we are today.


Key Info

Type: Permanent

Location: Museum, 2nd Floor

Exhibit highlights

  • Discover The Community We Created, The Places We Built, and The Dreams We Shared.

  • Explore the products that made Kalamazoo famous, from Checker cabs to medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
  • Investigate how we’ve grown from a frontier town to a major city.

Take a Walk Through History

Checker Cab

Checker Cabs

See one of the last Checker cabs produced up close! For six decades, Checker cabs, with their iconic black and white checkered detailing, were synonymous with taxi service in America’s cities, and those cabs were built right here in Kalamazoo by Morris Markin. The cab on display came off the assembly line in Kalamazoo in 1982 and was part of a fleet of 25 taxis for the Yellow Cab Company of Chicago between 1982 and 1986.


Gibson Guitars

Kalamazoo’s most famous instrument manufacturer unquestionably was Orville Gibson. Browse an array of legendary Gibson instruments and explore how they are crafted. Step on a sound stage, select an instrument, and hear it played. Celebrate local musicians and Kalamazoo’s rich culture of exceptional music making that lives on today. Nationally renowned performers who played Gibsons include B. B. King, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Charlie Daniels and Bob Dylan.

Kalamazoo Direct to You

Kalamazoo’s Beginnings

Learn how the Potawatomi, Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes, known in Michigan as the “People of the Three Fires,” have endured on this land they’ve called home for centuries. See how our area attracted a relatively large number of African American settlers in the 1830s and 1840s. Investigate how we’ve grown from a frontier town to a prosperous city by shopping for goods at a general store of the 1840s or checking out a 1960s suburban garage.

Kalamazoo Direct to You

Our Community

Take a seat at the snack bar of the Douglass Community Center and learn how the dreams of ethnic groups in Kalamazoo, both in the past and today, form a sense of belonging. Stroll through Bronson Park and imagine what it would have been like to hear Abraham Lincoln’s speech in Kalamazoo in 1856. Step into the spotlight as an anchor at the WKVM TV Station.

Where to find

Kalamazoo Direct to You

Kalamazoo Valley Museum
General Admission Is Free

230 North Rose Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
800.772.3370 | 269.373.7990
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The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.

Site by NK

2021 American Alliance of Museums.
All rights reserved.

2021 Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
All rights reserved.