gramexteriorAfter one year in operation as the world’s first art museum to win a Gold LEED medal from the United States Green Building Council, the Grand Rapids Art Museum has doubled its attendance. The new GRAM welcomed twice as many people to its galleries in one year as the number of those who visited GRAM in its last year in the former federal building.

Over those twelve months, the 70,000 viewers to the old GRAM have grown to 140,000 people who came through the doors of the new “green” art museum. Even more significant for the future is that 1,000 new people have signed on to become members of GRAM. Another sign of success in its first year is that 185 tour groups, including visitors from Germany, visited the art museum this year.

GRAM earned national recognition when Newsweek Magazine named the 125,000 square-feet new art museum one of the “Six Most Important Buildings of 2007.” Its location in the heart of Grand Rapids overlooking the Rosa Parks ice rink—the city’s own Rockefeller Plaza—has made GRAM a popular destination. After walking through the galleries, visitors browse the gift shop and watch the skaters over lunch in the cafeteria.

Peter Wege, President of The Wege Foundation, donated the lead gift that initiated the campaign to give his hometown a world-class new building to house its only art museum. His one stipulation: “I want it to be the first LEED-certified museum in the world.” The U.S. Green Building Council’s historic announcement that GRAM had earned the first Gold rating ever awarded to a museum honored Peter’s request—and fulfilled his dream.

Read more on the history and wonderful gift given by Peter M. Wege @ Fast Company Magazine