The building that houses the Port Huron Museum is a piece of history in its own right. Originally constructed by Andrew Carnegie in 1902, it served as the public library, and was slated for demolition just a few decades ago before being saved and lovingly restored by volunteers. Today it's home, not to books, but to more than 45,000 objects relating to the history of the Blue Water area, including Native American artifacts and one of Michigan's largest model ship collections. Alongside physical displays, the museum also hosts educational programs and field trips to teach visitors all about subjects as wide ranging as Mount Everest and the history of cartooning.
But beyond the walls of the main building, the Port Huron Museum also includes several historic locations where visitors can step back into the region's past. These include the Huron Lightship, a floating lighthouse that was stationed at the Great Lakes in the 1900s, as well as the Thomas Edison depot, where the young inventor once published his own newspaper for the train riders.
With thousands of frame and mat samples, The Great Frame Up can satisfy any and all framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (most diplomas can be framed for around $100), personalized jerseys glisten (most for under $300), and dorm-room movie posters sparkle (many 24x36 pieces are under $100). The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. The Great Frame Up’s no-hassle guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.
As the sun rises and sets on the shore of Lake St. Clair, it illuminates a historic mansion surrounded by 87 acres of gardens, meadows, and lagoons. The light catches the elm and sugar maple trees, blue lilacs, and other local florae, treating guests to the same idyllic views that Edsel Ford—the only son of Henry Ford—used to enjoy with his wife, Eleanor Clay Ford, and their children. Built in 1929 and now open to the general public, this historic house and its surrounding grounds give visitors a glimpse into the everyday lives of one of America's most prominent families.
Edsel and Eleanor Ford were renowned for their progressive design tastes and support of the arts, and these forward-thinking sensibilities are readily apparent throughout their Gaukler Point home. Detroit architect Albert Kahn chose to characterize it as a cozy escape from city life by recreating the aesthetic of a Cotswold village cottage, complete with stone roofs, vine-covered walls, and lead-paned windows. But the Ford's decidedly modern style is still visible—for every antique and stuffed and mounted Model T, guests can also spot the sleek, custom-made furnishings and leather-paneled walls recommended by interior designer Walter Teague. The acres outside those walls were shaped with equal care by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen, who chose to accentuate the area's natural beauty without giving any indication of manmade interference.
Of course, the Ford House would be incomplete without the invention that made the Ford name—the automobile. Reflecting that legacy and Edsel's own passion for designing vehicles, the garage houses a 1934 Brewster Town Car, a 1938 Lincoln K Brunn Brougham, and a 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, each of which was customized to Edsel's specifications. The crown jewel of the exhibited collection—when it is not being displayed at car shows and museums across the country—is Edsel's treasured 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster, a vehicle that he personally spent years conceptualizing and then refining into a sleek, aluminum-bodied roadster.
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.