John Bartley Science Museum

John Bartley Museum ExhibitExperience the all-new 2019-20 exhibit: 

“A World of Water”

Room 1073 (across from Carr-Fles Planetarium)
221 S. Quarterline Rd.
Muskegon, MI 49442

Mondays and Wednesdays: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Fridays: By Appointment

Guided Tours:
For docent-led tours, please contact the Math/Physical Sciences Department at (231) 777-0289.

Two areas address times in Michigan history where water was really important:

BArtley Museum Exhibit“Dive In”
The most ancient time when water was very important in Michigan was during the Devonian Period (417 – 354 million years ago). This was long before dinosaurs but after the first rapid diversification of life which brought about sharks and some seriously scary looking fishes. Michigan was south of the equator and covered by a warm, shallow, saltwater sea. Coral from this time period was later fossilized and we now know them as Petosky stones! In this exhibit’s “undersea habitat”, visitors can dress up in play SCUBA gear and “dive in” to our coral reef display, with a make-your-own coral and sea creature origami craft stations and sea creature search-and-find and bingo hands-on activities.

John Bartley Museum Exhibit“Making of the Great Lakes”
Water was also important during the Pleistocene Epoch (2.6 million – 11,700 years ago), when Michigan was covered in ice. During this time, glaciers advanced and retreated across the region several times. The meltwaters formed the water that is so important for our state’s present day commerce and recreation, the Great Lakes! Visitors can turn a wheel on the exhibit to cause the glacier to “retreat”, revealing a map of meltwaters forming the Great Lakes beneath. They can also see a miniature wooden replica of a mammoth skeleton and learn about ice age creatures and Michigan fossils from that time.


Several stations explore general properties of water:

John Bartley Museum Exhibit“Water as a solvent”
One exhibit is a water gun shooting gallery – where visitors can help us observe the dissolution of a 50 lb salt block over time. The original college student design for this exhibit was for a power washer and a rock… but, as fun as that sounded, we decided to scale it back a little. We still don’t know how long it will take to make a dent in the salt, but we’ve already had a lot of fun shooting at it.

John Bartley Museum Exhibit“Water in motion”
In this exhibit, we have one mechanical (fan-driven) whirlpool and one human-powered whirlpool, a wave machine, surface tension experiment, several sediment jars, and a calming bubble tube. At this station, visitors can explore water in motion and make connections between what they can see in hand-sample to the lakes and oceans at large. The bubble tube is the focal point of the museum’s reading corner with books for every reader’s water-related interests, from facts about sharks and weird deep sea creatures to Denise Brennan-Nelson’s adorable children’s book about “Tallulah: Mermaid of the Great Lakes”.

Bartley Museum Exhibit“Artifacts from the ocean”
Our museum display case exhibits several old fossilized corals (MI Petosky stones!) and some skeletal coral specimens along with a few shelves of recent collections from the Florida Keys, including an old ship’s chain and some ballast stones.


Two exhibits explore water usage and scarcity:

John Bartley Museum Exhibit“Water footprint”
A colorful watering can’s “water droplets” draw your attention down from the ceiling to a table of fact “flowers”, which give examples of how much water it takes to grow or manufacture various daily use items. Visitors discover how much water it takes to make a variety of things, from a pound of cheese or a hot dog, to computer paper or a pair of jeans. Can you figure out your daily water footprint?




“Our thirsty world”John Bartley Museum Exhibit
In this exhibit, visitors spin a wheel to select one of eight roles to play from a water-poverty stricken region from around the globe or across the United States. Stations explore the consequences of water scarcity, pollution, and societal attempts to overcome these dire situations. Visitors have the opportunity to see a variety of traditional ceramic water vessels (replicas made by MCC’s own art department), try lifting a 1- and 5-gallon water weight, and try a few drops of saltwater to see what it tastes like!

The Bartley Legacy

John Bartley Museum Exhibit“We are very excited to expand our community outreach to include science exploration with free interactive exhibits,” said John Selmon, the MCC provost and executive vice president. “We also hope this will enhance and continue MCC’s commitment to our community.”

The museum engages children and adults alike in science education that’s fun and interesting. Visitors will be fascinated by the tactile scientific investigation stations, which continue Bartley’s legacy of and strong commitment to scientific outreach. The late MCC instructor, who resided in Holland, MI, was a scientific researcher in the world of bryozoans, which are aquatic invertebrate animals sometimes called “moss animals.”

“We are excited that our students will be able to give back to their community through designing exhibits,” said Kumpf, MCC instructor of geology and oceanography.

“I hope that the museum will inspire youth to pursue careers in STEM fields for many years to come,” added Moleski, MCC instructor of physics and physical science.

John Bartley

From 1989 to 2011, Bartley taught geology at MCC. Highly revered for his teaching style by his MCC geology and math students, he earned their affectionate nickname of “The Big Kahuna.” Bartley was equally beloved by MCC’s faculty and staff for his kind and gentle manner, for being a founding member of the “Human Potential Committee,”

Dr. John Bartley

Dr. John Bartley

and for his omnipresent Hawaiian shirts lovingly made for him by his wife, Jackie.An active faculty member, he served on many committees and for several years was the Math and Physical Sciences Department chair. Bartley’s love for science included the Science Olympiad. For many years, he volunteered as the president of the Michigan Science Olympiad. Unfortunately, just a few months shy of his retirement in 2011, John was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and succumbed to the disease shortly thereafter.


Donate Now!

Help support this valuable resource to our community! Contributions to the Bartley Science Museum are being accepted in a number of ways:

  • online by clicking on the “Donate Now” button below
  • charge by phone at (231) 777-0226, or
  • by mail to: Foundation for Muskegon Community College, Muskegon Community College, Room 2109L, 221 S. Quarterline Road, Muskegon, MI 49442. Make your check payable to: Foundation for Muskegon Community College and write Bartley Science Museum in the memo line.

Donate Now