Wondering which museums in Michigan are worth your time? Then you’re certainly in the right place because this guide features only the best and most popular museums in Michigan state!
We’ve included the state’s best art museums, aviation museums, history museums, and much more. From some of the most impressive collections of rare vehicles to a museum that houses Michael Jackson’s black fedora, here are all the best museums in Michigan you should visit when you get the chance!
The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the most popular art museums in southeast Michigan, with one of the largest and most significant art collections in the US. It has more than 100 galleries covering a space of some 658,000 square feet!
The Detroit Institute is considered one of the six best museums in the entire United States, thanks to its amazing art collection. It includes pieces from nearly all parts of the globe, spanning periods from ancient Egypt to the present day. Whether you’re looking for ancient, impressionist, or contemporary art, you’ll have plenty of things to see in this Michigan museum.
The vast collection of the Detroit Institute includes works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Pieter Bruegel, Monet, Degas, and many other renowned artists from all over the world.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is situated in Chippewa County, at the Whitefish Point Light Station. It’s a maritime museum with a collection of artifacts that were recovered from the shipwrecks at Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve, as well as the bell that was once on the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is a great place to learn about the importance of the Great Lakes, as well as the many shipwrecks that happened there. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald is the most famous out of some 6000 ships that sank in these lakes, and their histories are truly fascinating.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the museum is part of the Whitefish Point Wildlife Refuge, a park that is popular for birdwatching, rock collecting, and ship watching!
Old Mormon Print Shop Museum is a historical museum in St. James, Michigan. It’s also in the National Register of Historic Places, so it’s one of the top Michigan museums to visit if you’re genuinely interested in history. The museum tells the history of James Strang and the early history of Mormons in the area.
James Strang opened the Print Shop in 1850 and started printing the Northern Islander – one of northern Michigan’s earliest papers. The newspaper dealt with Strang’s religious ideas, which made it easy for him to gain a lot of enemies. He was fatally shot in 1856, and not too long after, Beaver Island got invaded by non-Mormons.
The Print Shop’s permanent collections tell the story of James Strang and his times, and there are also several rotating and temporary exhibits visitors can enjoy at the museum.
Originally founded as the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, the Air Zoo is one of the best museums in Michigan dedicated to aviation. It’s located in Portage in southwest Michigan, and it’s home to quite a few rare and historical aircraft.
Also, it’s not just an aviation museum – the Air Zoo is also an amusement park, with rides that are lots of fun for both kids and adults. The younger visitors will enjoy the 26-foot Ferris wheel and the biplane ride, while adults can have the time of their life in the museum’s 3D full-motion flight simulators!
The Air Zoo’s collection of rare aircraft includes the SR-71B Blackbird, which is the fastest air-breathing aircraft in the world. Visitors can also observe all sorts of jet fighters, racing aircraft, civil planes, and much more!
The Arab American National Museum is the first museum of its kind in the world. It’s located in Dearborn, Michigan, and it aims to tell the story of Arab Americans while dispelling any prejudice about Arab Americans.
This Michigan Museum has three permanent collections, which cover everything from various contributions of the Arab civilization to mathematics, science, decorative arts, etc, to various documents and artifacts that tell the story of Arab immigration.
The museum also boasts two large art galleries that are reserved for the most renowned Arab American artists. There’s also a separate gallery that chronicles the stories and contributions of prominent Arab Americans, including Ralph Nader, Helen Thomas, and others.
The Henry Ford is a huge indoor-outdoor museum complex in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s designated as a National Historic Landmark, and it is one of the most popular museums in the state of Michigan.
It was founded by Henry Ford, and initially, it was just Ford’s personal collection of various objects that he had collected over the years. Today, the museum boasts a collocation that spans 12 acres and includes so many interesting items that you might just consider moving into the museum if it were a possibility.
The museum’s vast collection includes Rosa Parks’ bus, JFK’s presidential limousine, the laboratory of Thomas Edison, the first-ever Ford Mustang to be produced, the chair from Ford Theater in which Abraham Lincoln sat when he was shot, and many others.
It’s worth noting that the exhibits are scattered throughout the museum building and the Greenfield Village – collections such as Edison’s laboratory and the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop are situated in the village, whereas the smaller artifacts are housed in the museum.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was founded in 1965 in Detroit, Michigan. It’s one of the oldest museums dedicated to African American culture in the world, with a huge collection that contains some 35,000 artifacts.
The museum exhibits include letters from Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, as well as various documents detailing the Underground Railroad. The Wright has several permanent exhibits, including the Harriet Tubman Collection, And Still We Rise, the Ring of Genealogy, and others.
This famous museum also hosts quite a few public programs that aim to educate about the history of African Americans. This includes Kwanzaa Celebrations, Juneteenth, the African World Festival, and Camp Africa, to name just a few.
If you are looking to learn more about the history and culture of African Americans in Michigan (and wider), this is certainly one of the first museums you should visit in the state.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is an outdoor sculpture park, an art museum, and a botanical garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was opened in 1995, and it quickly became one of the top cultural attractions that focused on sculptures and horticulture in southern Michigan.
The complex features several interesting attractions, including a tropical conservatory, beautiful outdoor gardens, and a big Japanese garden, among others. Contemporary sculptures are placed in various locations throughout the complex, and just a thorough walk through the museum grounds will allow you to see most of them.
Additionally, the complex features the Wedge Nature Trail, which winds through the forested areas of the property. The purpose of the trail is to promote awareness of all the different ecosystems that are present in West Michigan. The trail extends past the property, and even ventures into the wetlands of Michigan, which are very popular for birdwatching.
Detroit Historical Museum is the perfect Michigan museum for anyone interested in the local history of Detroit. It’s situated in the historic center of Midtown Detroit, and it chronicles the city’s history in detail.
The museum’s permanent exhibits cover a period of 300 years, and they include things like replicas of old Detroit streets and historic buildings, the underground railroad, Glancy Trains, and much more.
This museum also boasts temporary and traveling exhibits, in addition to its 11 permanent collections. it’s operated by the Detroit Historical Society, which is intent on preserving and recounting the history of Detroit as it developed.
The traveling exhibits chronicle different aspects of the city’s history, while the museum’s temporary collections tell the stories of important people, events, and companies in this city.
Port Huron Museum is the umbrella term for a series of four museums in Port Huron. This includes the Carnegie Center, Thomas Edison Depot Museum, the Huron Lightship, and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. Each of the Port Huron museums has something unique to offer to its visitors, and you can choose whether you want to visit just one or all four.
Admission into the museums is purchased separately, although it is possible to get a Huron Experience pass that allows entrance into all four museums at a discounted rate. The Carnegie Center is the main museum in the system, and it’s a historical museum with some 45,000 objects and other items that chronicle the history of the Blue Water Area.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan, built back in 1814. It’s one of a few remaining operating lighthouses that allows public tours. It offers a spectacular view from the tower’s catwalk, which alone is worth the admission price.
The Tomas Edison Depot Museum is situated inside the Fort Gratiot train depot, and it is the very same depot where Thomas Edison worked as a news reporter. The museum’s exhibits offer a look into Edison’s story, with detailed recreations of his various life periods.
The Huron Light Ship museum is an actual, functioning lightship that served for more than 50 years. It houses a large collection of artifacts, which includes model ships, and even a live camera feed of the river bottom.
The Gerald Ford Presidential Museum is situated in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and it chronicles the life story of President Gerald Ford. The presidential museum is also the final resting place of the US’ 38th president and his wife Betty Ford, and the burial place is open to the public.
The Grand Rapids museum has a collection of some 20,000 artifacts from Gerald Ford’s life and career. This includes everything from materials from the time Ford spent as a boy scout, to a section of the Berlin Well that was dedicated to this president.
Visitors can also observe photographs, videos, a full-scale replica of the Oval Office, and a plethora of other exhibits. There’s also an entire gallery documenting the Watergate scandal as well as a video of President Ford’s pardon, which happen to be some of the most popular exhibits at this museum!
The Gilmore Car Museum is without a doubt the best of all Michigan museums for car lovers. It is situated in the town of Hickory Corners, and it boasts the largest collection of vintage and classic cars in the state. There are more than 300 collector vehicles from pretty much all eras in the museum, and they’re scattered throughout more than a dozen campus buildings.
Also, the Gilmore Car Museum campus is home to six other museums, which are much smaller. A ticket to the main museum will get you free admission into these other museums, which are all dedicated to automobiles as well.
Some of the most popular attractions at the main Gilmore Car Museum buildings include the early cars from the late 19th century, a vintage Franklin dealership, the car and movie set from Disney’s The Gnome-Mobile film, one of the 51 Tucker 48 cars that were ever produced, and many others!
The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum is one of the best museums in Michigan’s upper peninsula. It’s located in Houghton, on the campus of Michigan Technological University. This is the official mineral museum of Michigan state, named after professor Arthur Edmund Seaman, who was the museum’s first curator.
The museum’s collection showcases minerals from all over the Great Lakes region, but also from various places around the world. It has the best collection in the world of minerals from Michigan, which includes rare and unique minerals retrieved from the Great Lakes regions.
Also, the museum has a University of Michigan Mineral Collection, which was established only a year after the University of Michigan was moved to Ann Arbor. The collection is a part of the university’s long history of research on minerals, and it includes more than 1500 important mineral specimens.
It’s worth noting that nine minerals were named after the faculty and alumni from the University of Michigan, which should give you a good idea of just how important this university is in the world of minerals.
Motown is a record label founded by Berry Gordy Jr. back in 1959. The first headquarters of the record label was nicknamed Hitsville U.S.A., and the house where the label’s first recording studio was located is still sitting in West Grand Boulevard. The house is nowadays the Motown Museum, entirely dedicated to this label’s legacy.
The museum occupies the original Hitsville house, as well as the adjacent residence. Visitors can observe various artifacts from the label’s successful era. The Motown Museum is also home to Berry Gordy’s apartment above the studio, which features period furniture and decorations from the 60s.
This iconic museum is home to quite a few fascinating artifacts, including Michael Jackson’s black fedora and studded white glove, which he generously donated to the museum. Visitors can also observe the Motown piano, which was used by many famous musicians, including Paul McCartney, the Funk Brothers, and many others.
All music lovers traveling through Michigan state should certainly make time for this fascinating museum!
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