Cranbrook Art Museum opened its current Eliel Saarinen-designed building in 1942. Today, its collection features original exhibitions and educational programming on modern and contemporary architecture, art, crafts, and design. A recent $22 million renovation added a Collections Wing, making their rich collection accessible to all visitors.
Permanent mainstay: Tours of the museum's Collections Wing, with more than 6,000 items by artists such as Eames, Knoll, and Saarinen, are all housed in a vault designed to make the collection visible and accessible.
Don't miss: The curator's talks give more in-depth detail about current exhibitions.
Hands-on experiments: In the outdoor sculpture treasure hunt, families seek up to 18 sculptures on the grounds, while learning more about the artists, other works, and which pieces make the best nesting areas for birds.
Future exhibitions: Laura Kalman: Coveted Objects; Theater of the Mind; The Cranbrook Hall of Wonders: Artworks, Objects, and Natural Curiosities; Iris Eichenberg: Bend; MR. MDWST - A REAL GOOD TIME by BEVERLY FRESH; and Alloyed Visions: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia
The building: a meticulously restored structure designed in 1942 by Eliel Saarinen
While you?re in the neighborhood: Nearby on the Cranbrook campus is Saarinen House, the art deco masterwork of renowned architect Eliel Saarinen. The house served as his residence as Cranbrook Academy of Art's first president and has been restored with its original furnishings.
Foster the next generation of artists: at monthly Drop-In Art Sundays, where children explore the kids' gallery and create their own masterpiece inspired by featured artists
Cranbrook Institute of Science grants visitors an up-close look at a collection of more than 150,000 objects and artifacts that adorn 11 galleries dedicated to natural history and science. Interactive exhibits let visitors feel the fur on a mastodon model, run their fingers along a meteorite, and touch the cast taken from the floor of a now-extinct 500,000-year-old sea. More wonders of the natural world fill the Erb Family Science Garden, where flow pools cascade over three terraces dotted with native plants. To study the world above terra firma, the institute holds nighttime sessions in its research-grade observatory and screens space-related films in its planetarium.
Behind the museum, more than 150 species—from jamaican fruit bats to the malaysian flying fox, the world's largest bat—flap freely through the Bat Zone. During award-winning live shows highlighting how they adapt to living at night, the bats emerge into daylight along with fellow nocturnal critters, two-toed sloths and convenience-store clerks.
At Pierce Street Portraits, Elaine Yaker draws upon a keen artistic eye and more than 20 years of experience to invite smiles from subjects of all ages. She has a particular knack for capturing photographs of children and has made her studio a place for young imaginations, photographing them posing in kid-friendly clothes or dressed up in costumes with their favorite toys. But while kids are her specialty, Elaine also helps parents, grandparents, and even pets to flash their brightest smiles, immortalizing precious moments in black and white or color prints, photo books, boxes, and wall hangings.
Settled inside an art gallery heralding myriad international works of art, Danielle Peleg Gallery’s skilled framers draw on more than 33 years of experience to professionally flank canvases with high-end frames. Customers can enlist framing services for treasured family photographs, cherished artwork, or third-place elementary-school spelling-bee certificates in sizes ranging from 16”x20” ($85–$100) to 30”x40” ($250–$350). Trimming technicians suggest frames and mounts to complement styles and customers’ tastes before fitting and framing each piece. The experts also furnish a glass casing as protection from the fingers of barbecue-eating art aficionados.
Named one of the city's best cultural museums by CBS Detroit, the Holocaust Memorial Center is among America’s first Holocaust museums. For more than 25 years, the HMC has memorialized the senseless murder of millions, promoting tolerance while sending out a call to action to prevent future discrimination, hate crimes, bullying, and genocide by keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust and the lives it claimed.
Starting near the museum's lobby, an illustrated timeline tracing 4,000 years of Jewish history leads into The Museum of European Jewish Heritage, which highlights Judaism through artifacts and displays. From there, a ramp descending beyond a 22-foot window display of Nazi propaganda leads into an exhibit on The Final Solution. Here, displays and audiovisual installations usher visitors toward the Survivors' Theater, where live presentations by Detroit-area survivors illuminate the atrocities' personal costs. Daily tours are led by the museum's caring, expert educators, who guide guests through the exhibits while encouraging them to internalize the lessons for use in their own lives.
New to the museum is the Weisberg Gallery, where a Holocaust-era boxcar stands as a reminder of the scale of the period's atrocities. The museum also welcomes traveling exhibits such as Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow, a collection depicting the story of Jewish professors fleeing Nazism and finding teaching positions at historically black universities. The exhibit explores the encounter between these scholars and their students, the impact the relationships had on one another, and the effect on the Civil Rights Movement and American society.
Post-war exhibits cover the Nuremberg Trials, honor the righteous individuals who risked their lives to resist the Nazis or save Jewish lives during the war, and pay homage to those who perished with a memorial flame. The museum also houses a well-stocked library, where guests can research their genealogy with materials dedicated to European Jewish history. Beyond its core exhibits, the HMC hosts special exhibits encompassing photographs, art, and history, in addition to sending survivors to speaking engagements throughout the city and hosting the Kindertransport Memory Quilt, whose patches represent the experiences of Jewish youth rescued from Eastern Europe.
Marvin Yagoda, the owner of Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, has amassed mechanical oddities and coin-operated machines since 1960 and regularly updates his collection of curiosities with new additions. A champion of all things outlandish, Marvin ensures that no nook or cranny in the 5,000-square-foot space remains unembellished with treasures such as P.T. Barnum's famous Cardiff Giant, as featured in RoadsideAmerica.com, or the AutoWed, America's first and only coin-operated wedding-ring dispenser for on-the-fly unions, replete with wedding music and an AutoDivorce voucher. Rafters atop 40-foot ceilings anchor low-flying model planes, and walls cloak themselves in vintage photos and pictures. Modern machines mingle with antique contraptions, whose old-timey noises and quaint images whisk visitors away to days of yore as effectively as a coal-powered wormhole.
A concession stand ensures that players remain sated and hydrated, and a prize shop enables guests to trade in their hard-earned game tickets for rewards such as figurines, toys, and yacht cruises with the Pac-Man family. To share its quarter-munching contraptions with as many visitors as possible, the museum remains open 365 days a year and offers free admission.