A Whole Mess of Museums

This is a longer post than usual because I want to give lots of information to create your own museum tour.  I’m happy to take you around, but you can do this on your own!  This isn’t D.C.  You don’t even need a car to discover the extensive museums and galleries that Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan offer.  They are all free to enter, but donations are always appreciated.

The kids’ favorite on campus is the Museum of Natural History, which features permanent exhibits on prehistoric life (including the largest display of dinosaurs in Michigan) as well as Michigan wildlife, anthropology, geology and a wide range of temporary exhibits.  There are weekend shows in the planetarium, transporting you to the furthest reaches of space.  In the same building are the Museums of Anthropological Archeology, Peleontology and Zoology, which are primarily for research, but the public is welcome.

A few minute walk across central campus leads you to the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, which contains nearly 100,000 ancient and medieval objects from the Mediterranean and Near East.  Just across the street, behind the huge bright orange metal sculpture is the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), which added 53,000 square feet a few years ago.  UMMA boasts African, Asian, American and European collections of more than 18,000 objects collected over the last 150 years.

Around the corner, and technically a library, the William L. Clements Library houses a wealth of rare books, manuscripts, maps, prints, photographs and other primary sources on American history from 1492 to 1900.  This 90-year-old Albert Kahn building (one of many on campus) is undergoing at $16M renovation, and has been temporarily moved until the Fall of 2015.  Like most libraries, it’s mostly used for research purposes—-the Pulitzer prize winning author and historian David McCullough used the Clements for his book 1776but everybody is welcome and there’s usually an exhibit of something on display.  Just check their site first.

Located in the U’s Special Collections at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, is the premier collection for the study of culinary Americana, The Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.  Ms. Longone started her collection in her Ann Arbor home over 50 years ago.  In 2007, she donated over 20,000 pieces to the U—-diverse materials from the 16th through early 20th century—-books, diaries, advertisements, menus, maps, catalogs.  If you’re into culinary history or written history in general, this is the place for you!

One of the more unique museums on campus is the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, housed in the School of Dentistry.  The museum features more than 15,000 items showcasing the evolution of dental technology from the 18th century through today.  Just down the street from the School of Dentistry, you can hop on a free bus to North campus (or get in your car) and go to the Stearns Collection in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, which displays more than 2,500 musical instruments from around the world.  Also on North Campus is the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, which contains 25 million pages of documents, audiovisual materials and exhibits related to Ford’s presidency.

There are a number of permanent and revolving art collections and galleries around campus, including exhibits in the University Health System throughout its buildings intended to help calm and comfort patients, visitors and staff and to support the healing process.  The Ross School of Business collection of art consists of more than 250 contemporary works on paper and sculpture.

Off campus, but only a few blocks away, is our great children’s Hands-On Museum.  If you’re interested in the history of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, stop at the Kemf House Museum or the Museum on Main Street, both located in historic Ann Arbor homes from the mid 1800’s.  You really don’t run out of things to do here!

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