Dirk Gringhuis Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Gringhuis, Dirk, 1918-1974
Dirk Gringhuis papers
undated, circa 1965-1967
1.0 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Richard H. "Dirk" Gringhuis was born on September 22, 1918 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended Greason School of Painting in Douglas, Michigan in 1937, followed by the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Illinois from 1938 to 1940. In 1941 Gringhuis took a break from school to marry Helen Lees. He returned to school in 1942; this time attending the Grand Central Art School in New York, N.Y.

For the first 10 years of his career, Gringhuis worked as a freelance artist in Grand Rapids, then as Director of the Art Department at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. In 1952 he began working as a freelance artist in East Lansing. Gringhuis started his career at Michigan State University as Assistant Curator at the Abrams Planetarium in 1963. The following year he was transferred to the museum to work as an artist. He was promoted to Curator of Exhibits in 1967, a position he held until his death in 1974. In 1971 Gringhuis became an Associate Professor of Elementary Education and Special Education.

Gringhuis wrote and illustrated 20 childrens books and served as a artist, producer, and host of the weekly television program "Open Door to Michigan." The program began at WMSB-TV at MSU in 1964 as an educational show targeted to children in grades 3 through 5. Gringhuis also served as a consultant for Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Preparing illustrated bulletins, research reports, and painting murals depicting scenes from Michigan history were a few of the tasks he performed for the Commission.

Following a short illness, Gringhuis died on March 31, 1974 at the age of 55.

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Scope and Content

The Dirk Gringhuis Papers contain drafts, gallery proofs, photographs, and illustrated drawings for two of Gringhuis' books: Stars on the Ceiling: the Planetarium Story and  Open Door to the Great Lakes. The collection also contains MSU Museum pamphlets, newspaper articles concerning Gringhuis and the MSU Museum, publications by Gringhuis, reminiscence about Gringhuis by his coworker Charles Smith, a drawing of Charles Smith? by Gringhuis, photographs of museum staff members, and a watercolor and sketches by Gringhuis.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections July 2012

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Michigan State University. Libraries. Special Collections Division.


  • Galley proofs
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Photographs

Geographic Name(s)

  • Great Lakes (North America)
  • Michigan -- History


  • Planetariums

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Collection Inventory

Stars on the Ceiling: the Planetarium Story 1967 

Box Folder

Final draft, galley proofs, correspondence 

4025 1

Illustrations - drawings 

4025 2


4025 3

Page proofs 

4025 4

Oversize illustrations 

4026 1

Open Door to the Great Lakes 1966 

Box Folder


4025 5

Galley proofs 

4025 6


4025 7

Oversize illustrations 

4026 1-2
Box Folder

Drawing of Charles Smith? by Gringhuis undated  

4025 8

MSU Museum Pamphlets undated  

4025 9

Newspaper Articles - Otters on Exhibit; Piecing Together the Past 1970-1971 

4025 10

Publications by Gringhuis 

Box Folder

The Big Hunt: A Museum Exhibit Comes to Life 1962 

4025 11

Mystery Mammals of the Ice Age 1972 

4025 11

Moccasin Tracks: A Saga of the Michigan Indian 1974 

4025 11
Box Folder

Reminscence from "But in Here" book by Charles Smith undated  

4025 12

Watercolor of Labrador Tea by Gringhuis 1964 

4025 13

Photographs of Museum Staff 1961-1970 

4025 14

Drawing of Men Working in the Woods by Gringhuis (oversize) undated  


Photo of Drawing of Mountain Lion Killing an Elk by Gringhuis (oversize) undated  


Drawing of Otter Exhibit by Gringhuis (oversize) undated