Sightseeing in Midtown

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For an art museum, the flat, cracked facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is shockingly stark, yet there's beauty in its realness. The walls that once framed an abandoned car dealership now host Barry McGee's "Untitled" mural of writ-large graffiti on the building's exterior, greeting people with an uncompromising sense of honesty that permeates through to the art collection within. MOCAD's informal approach to art exhibition shares a kindred spirit with few other museums, with exhibits that swap museum-imposed artifice for relatable, raw beauty. That didn't go unnoticed by The New York Times, who hailed the collection for "seeing the seediness, and celebrating it."

Never straying from a mission to present contemporary works that reflect the current culture, inspire dialogue, and engage the community, MOCAD's stunning exhibitions narrate the history and future of the Motor City. Public programs such as lectures, literary readings, live music performances, films, and children's educational activities further engage visitors, and the MOCAD store offers exclusive t-shirts, magazines, kid's toys, and jewelry.

4454 Woodward Avenue
Detroit,
MI
US

Preservation Detroit, founded in 1975, is Detroit's oldest group dedicated to historic preservation. Over the past three decades, the architectural preservation organization has become a leading advocate for the protection and rehabilitation of Detroit's historic abodes, skyscrapers, and culturally rich sites. They have used a variety of educational and research programs, along with advocacy and awareness campaigns to help grow support for the conservation Detroit's built heritage. Part of this mission includes encouraging the redevelopment of neighborhoods throughout the city around these historic structures, providing an anchor for residential areas and helping increase economic investment.

An all-volunteer organization, Preservation Detroit's staff continues to nurture their community's passion for historical treasures through lectures, seasonal newsletters, and tours. The organization continues to live up to its name; it recently helped conduct a historic preservation resource survey that recorded property-by-property information in six historic Detroit districts.

4735 Cass Ave
Detroit,
MI
US

Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Charles Wright is proof that one person can make a big difference. In the 1960s, Dr. Wright was consumed by a vision: to create a center for the development and preservation of African American culture and history. He drew 30 other Detroit citizens to his cause, and together they established the International Afro-American Museum, which was renamed in honor of Dr. Wright in 1998. Today, the museum remains a place to explore the history of African Americans, from their origins in Africa to their struggle to overcome slavery and discrimination in America.

  • Size: a 125,000-square-foot facility with more than 30,000 artifacts and archival materials
  • Permanent Exhibit: And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture, where more than 20 galleries travel from ancient African civilizations to modern-day Detroit
  • Eye Catcher:Ring of Genealogy, a 37-foot tile mural surrounded by the names of prominent African Americans

  • Special Programs: films, lectures, educational programs, and annual events, including the African World Festival
  • Don't Miss: the handcrafted artwork inside the museum store, which comes from local and African artisans
  • Hands-On Learning: A is for Africa, an exhibit with 26 interactive stations that introduce young visitors to African history
  • Pro Tip: The museum is closed on Mondays.
315 E Warren Ave.
Detroit,
MI
US

Maccabees at Midtown's spacious dining room?with its wood accents, pendant chandeliers wrapped in bronze-colored filigree, and Art Deco?style ceiling?looks like something from the 1920s or '30s. But its bistro food is decidedly modern. Housemade chicken fingers made from all-natural chicken dip into wasabi ranch, Kobe beef burgers support applewood-smoked bacon and garlic aioli, lobster meat joins bacon in the BLT, and certified-Angus new york strip steaks arrive alongside pesto mashed potatoes. The eatery also embraces brunch, a tradition that became popular in the 1930s, along with using a black-and-white filter on every photograph.

5057 Woodward Ave.
Detroit,
MI
US

The Detroit Science Center lets aspiring engineers and scientists get their tiny hands on more than 200 exhibits that explore space, biology, and physical science. Glimpse the mysteries of space travel or learn the fundamentals of electricity and magnetism that fuel online dating logarithms. A virtual universe of swirling stars and planets awaits inside the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium, where live presenters lead you on an intergalactic adventure followed by earthbound questions and answers. The Chrysler IMAX Dome theatre brings state-of-the-art technology and cinematronics to the 67-foot wide, four-story tall screen. The theatre immerses visitors in a rotating schedule of shows; currently, guests can explore Arabia, visit the Hubble, or allow the adrenalin-pumping excitement of NASCAR in digital surround to vroom off the screen and into unlicensed eyeballs.

5020 John R St
Detroit,
MI
US

Described by the Wall Street Journal as "probably America's most visitor-friendly art museum," the Detroit Institute of Arts has been building one of the top six collections in the country since it was founded in 1885. Along the way, the institute acquired standout pieces such as Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to enter a public museum's collection in the United States. Former director William Valentiner commissioned Diego Rivera to paint the world-renowned Detroit Industry mural cycle in an indoor courtyard—a more lasting tribute to the beauty of labor. In total, more than 60,000 works of prehistoric, modern, contemporary, and multinational art have found a home within the museum's more than 100 galleries.

The institute’s broad range of art comprises not only American and European works but also significant pieces of African, Asian, and Native American origin. An auditorium and recital hall also make the institute a haven for film and live music on Friday and Sunday. Guests can even attend free-with-admission drop-in workshops to make their own unique works of art.

5200 Woodward Ave
Detroit,
MI
US