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.
On November 19, 1928, the Detroit Historical Society opened the Detroit Historical Museum in a one-room suite on the 23rd floor of the Barlum Tower, earning it the nickname of highest museum in the world. These days, Detroit?s Cultural Center accommodates the museum in an 80,000-square-foot space, where interactive exhibits preserve more than 300 years of city history. Frontiers to Factories traces Detroit's transformation from French-frontier outpost to industrial city, while America's Motor City celebrates its automotive dominance with a changing display of classic vehicles and a 1903 Model T that guests can sit in. Streets of Old Detroit brings the 19th century to life with recreated cobblestone streets that wind past stores of the era such as a five-and-dime, a soda shop, and a barbershop for powdered wigs.
Thanks to recent renovations, the society has expanded its chronicle of Detroit with three new permanent exhibitions. Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy covers the ways the city's industrial infrastructure adapted to demands of World War II, and The Gallery of Innovation includes videos about renowned innovators and hands-on activities involving trial and error. As The Allesee Gallery of Culture examines the city's cultural history, its Kid Rock Music Lab lets visitors create and share their own music using interactive displays. Outside, the Detroit Legends Plaza honors the city's sports, entertainment, and media legends with cemented handprints and signatures from stars such as Lily Tomlin and Martha Reeves.
Standing in the shadow of Hitsville USA—the original home of Motown Records and the studio that launched the careers of Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson—Motown Museum preserves the legacy of soul’s most successful label. Immersive exhibits trace the roots and eventual impact of Motown on popular culture, demonstrating how Gordy achieved the signature sound or how James Jamerson challenged and beat the devil in a bass-playing contest. Visitors get a chance to sing into the innovative Echo Chamber—a hole cut into the ceiling that created the reverb sound synonymous with hit recordings such as "Dancing in the Street." A steady stream of photographs and other rhythm-and-blues memorabilia leads amblers into “Studio A,” which contains the original instruments and equipment used to record The Jackson Five and Gladys Knight during Motown’s Detroit era. Crowds gather around Michael Jackson’s signature glove-and-hat ensemble, which he himself donated to the museum.
SemSeg's Segway experts equip urban explorers to cruise through Detroit at up to 12.5 miles per hour during self-guided tours. A brief orientation covers proper techniques for turning, stopping, and impromptu jousting. Then, motorists hop aboard scooters and travel up to 24 miles on a single charge. The long battery life allows motorists to cruise down the Riverfront, circle 14-acre Hart Plaza, and crisscross the Rivard Plaza in a single trip. Though SemSeg encourages DIY tours, their guides lead weekend tours through downtown and down the Riverwalk.