Since 1928, the Flint Institute of the Arts (FIA) has chronicled the cultural history of the city and today continues to influence its rebirth. In that time, the museum has been designated as a National Treasure by the President's Committee on the Arts in 2002 and received the Governor's Award for Arts and Cultural Organization in 2007. As a world-class cultural institution, the FIA draws over 120,000 visitors a year to an array of exhibitions, film screening, lectures, educational outreach programs, and family events that enlighten art lovers and celebrate Flint's diversity. Within the FIA's 150,000 square feet of space, stunning gallleries of over 8,000 objects, including sculptures, paintings, and artifacts, tell the story of Flint's past and future. Its libraries and art school prepare the next generation of artists. The FIA also features a video gallery, a cafe and gift shop, a great hall for large events, and a theater for films and lectures.
The boundaries of children's imaginations expand like a sun on the horizon at the Flint Children's Museum, a creative learning space with more than 40 exhibits. The show-stopping stations are designed to engage tykes of every learning type, whether they figure out their world by experimenting, watching, hearing, or even climbing. At the Discovery Zone, kids explore environments such as the rainforest or outer space by scampering about kid-sized replicas. They get a lesson in cause and effect at the "How Things Work" section by building bridges, and try their green thumbs at urban horticulture in the Sproutside outdoor learning area. While older kids cavort about, their toddling counterparts, ages three and under, can head to the cozy Tot Spot to play with age-appropriate toys.
Saginaw Art Museum gathers both contemporary and classic art in a brick-clad Gregorian Revival mansion that itself is a historical treasure. Originally designed in 1903 by Charles Adams Platt as the Ring family home, the building’s exquisite interior includes dark butternut wood paneling and decorative moldings. Filling the rooms is the museum’s permanent collection of paintings, prints, textiles, and sculptures from American, European, and Asian artists; African artifacts and masks; Native American art; and American and Mexican folk art. A library complements the art collection with more than 1,200 books and periodicals discussing art, as well as Leonardo da Vinci's handmade comic book depicting him as a superhero.
A roster of ever-changing current exhibitions includes showcases of forged metal sculptures, contemporary nature paintings, and the recurring Art in the Heart of the City's ART 4 ALL Exhibitions, which showcase works by local Michigan artists. Visitors peruse temporary exhibits in the exhibition wing gallery, an ultramodern glass-covered hall, or teach flowering plants how to spell “Matisse” in a formal outdoors garden.
To continue arts education outside the gallery, staffers organize themed art history and technique classes for all ages, as well as docent-led tours. They also helm the interactive Visionarea, a gallery space where children delve into art-making, science experiments, and the works of famous artists.
Mary Starring realized her goal of helping local artists step into the spotlight when she opened her gallery in 2005. Since then, Mary's space has featured the work of more than 50 talented creators, each showcased during Northville's First Friday Experience. This monthly after-hours collaboration by the town's merchants unites the community in appreciation of the work of these local artists. To further highlight this local talent, Starring populates her shelves with their art and gifts—elegant, locally blown glass, original paintings, and stylish jewelry. A regularly rotating selection of crafts helps returning customers find the perfect birthday present or replacement for a macaroni necklace they mistook for dinner.
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.