Located in Detroit's Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is one of the world's largest institutions dedicated to the African-American experience. Covering 120,000 square feet, the museum houses five rotating exhibitions, including Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment, and five permanent exhibitions, such as the 22,000-square-foot core exhibit And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture. Also at the museum are the Louise Lovett Wright Library & Archives and the Ford Rotunda, which boasts a 55-foot-high glass dome that dumps artificial snow when shaken by giants.
Since the 1950s, the Ford Drive In has invited audiences to enjoy double features from the comfort of their own automobiles. The alfresco theater’s five screens show back-to-back screenings of first-run movies throughout the whole year, with films paired based on their rating and genre. Viewers can stay warm with the heat flowing from the outdoor car heaters, which keep them comfortable during the winter and prevent popcorn kernels from freezing to their tongues.
A 1,201-seat auditorium that values acoustic excellence as much as visual grandeur, the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center houses ornate wooden accents and intricate wall panels that soar over a sweeping balcony peppered with plush red seats. Ample wheelchair seating and elevators to all levels abound, ensuring audience members seated in the balcony won’t need to rely on the creaky wooden catapults still in use at many theaters.
Game Headz powers up electronic arsenals with its selection of pre-owned games and machines. With portable systems such as a used Nintendo Game Boy Advance ($19.99), nature-loving gamers entertain themselves while basking in summer’s embrace. Button mashers whip lazy thumbs into shape with recent titles ($20–$30) such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Saints Row 2, Fable II, and Resident Evil 4. Classic Atari games let customers dust off their “Tilden 4 President” bumper stickers and revisit an earlier chapter in video-game history. An affable staff of console buffs is always on hand to point visitors to exciting titles and engage in debates about the finer points of pixilated entertainment.
During its 20th season of socially engaging theater in southwest Detroit, Matrix Theatre Company continues to create challenging and visually compelling work that includes the community it calls home. The year of six plays begins with Southwest Story (October 14–November 13), a Detroit take on the story of Romeo and Juliet that explores the conflict between African-American and Latino cultures but fails to solve the mystery of how Shakespeare kept his goatee so pointy.
Music Authority's diverse and experienced team of instructors coaches students of all ages in their choice of eight instruments in one-on-one, 30-minute lessons held once a week. Music mavens teach students how to decipher sheet music and tones expressing Morse code messages as they usher in rehearsal compositions for piano, guitar, drums, violin, flute, accordion, trumpet, or voice. Musicians in training learn about music theory and technical elements such as finger placement and submission holds to wrestle tunes from a stubborn trumpet. After sharpening their skills in the lessons, all students may showcase their mastery in the annual spring and winter recitals.
The Detroit Institute of Arts takes the “s” at the end of its name seriously. The immense Beaux Arts building on Woodward Avenue isn’t only a setting for a top-tier collection of visual works that include Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes, a van Gogh self-portrait, and ancient sculptures from Africa and Asia. It also opens the doors of its lecture halls, event spaces, and auditoriums for craft workshops, wide-ranging talks from historians and people who know how to draw really good cubes, film, and music. The latter two art forms find a home in the Detroit Film Theatre, a gilded, neoclassical auditorium that preserves a sense of coziness amid the grandeur.