Unmistakably Detroit

The places and people that make Detroit unique

History, Art and Science, Oh My! A Detroit Museum Trifecta – Part I

1 parking spot + 2 kids + $5  + 3 Museums = A great Sunday in the D.

I love family outings that require no planning, keep the kids completely engaged, and cost very little. Sunday was one of those days. In four hours we were able to visit the Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), and the Michigan Science Center.  Here is Part I of our three part museum series.

Part I – Detroit Historical Museum

Outside the Detroit Historical Museum

Outside the Detroit Historical Museum

With a $5 parking lot located next door (enter off of Kirby Street), the Detroit Historical Museum was a great place to start our day.  This museum recently underwent a 6 month, $12 million rennovation and it shows.  We started out on the lower level and toured the “Streets of Old Detroit”.  This is the one section of the museum that I can remember visiting as a kid. With cobblestone streets and old buildings, it’s a step back to 19th century Detroit. There were plenty of things to keep the kids’ interest like the Sanders confectionary shop, an old fire engine, and a discovery room with hand-on activities.



Interactive train display

Interactive train display

Also on the lower level is the “Glancy Trains” exhibit. If your kids like trains (and really, what kid doesn’t!?), they could be happy in this room for hours! There is a huge model train display which includes interactive buttons that control different functions in the exhibit. With over 20 different buttons, my kids loved pressing them all to see what each controlled (crossing gates went up and down, a carnival ride spun, a sign lit up – tons of different things!).  We reluctantly left this area after 15 minutes so that we could see more of the museum!


Tiger Stadium!

Tiger Stadium!

Back on the main level we checked out the “Allesee Gallery of Culture” which prominently displays the old Tiger Stadium sign. This exhibit, which is displayed in a circular room, is a trip back through 20th century Detroit culture. Each quarter of the room is dedicated to 25 years of culture and displays sports memorabilia, automotive and music history, and other Detroit cultural icons (such as the Hudson’s department store, Thanksgiving Day Parade and more).  My kids especially loved the interactive touch screen displays where they could see more pictures and even watch movie clips.  Adjacent to the Gallery of Culture is the Kid Rock Music Lab.  The music lab is dedicated to Detroit’s rich musical heritage. From Motown greats like The Temptations, to modern day success stories like Kid Rock and Jack White, this exhibit covers it all.  A touchscreen sound board and some interactive quizzes added some interest for the kids.

Touch screen displays in the Allesee Culture Gallery

Touch screen displays in the Allesee Gallery of Culture

Watching the assembly line from above

Bird’s eye view of the assembly line

We spent about 2 hours at the Historical Museum and while we saw just about everything, we easily could have spent several more hours. Some of our other museum favorites include the automotive assembly line where a Cadillac body is lowered onto the chassis, touchscreens where you can design your own soda, and the World War II era exhibit with some hands-on manufacturing related displays. Each time we walked into a new exhibit area there was something hands-on and interactive. My son even commented, “They should call this the ‘Hands-on History Museum’!” – and I think he is right! Oh, and did I mention that it was FREE? Detroit Historical Museum – job well done.

Check out Part II  for our adventures at the Detroit Institute of Arts.





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