The earliest history museums had little actual history to draw on, and instead padded exhibits with wildly speculative displays about how dinosaurs would be elected to Congress by the year 2000. See how far we've come with today's Groupon: for $32, you get a yearlong family membership to the Detroit Historical Society (a $65 value).
Founded in 1928, the Detroit Historical Museum transports more than 100,000 visitors each year into the past via cobblestone streets lined with 19th-century storefronts, giving Detroit-area residents glimpses of the Motor City before and after the motor rose to prominence. Society members will receive free admission to the 80,000-square-foot museum for themselves, one guest, and any children or grandchildren in their family age 18 or younger, the age at which humans learn to hunt and gather their own museum memberships. After acquiring a complimentary parking space and entering the museum, visitors may stop by a fur-trading post that predates the American Constitution, before slipping through a wormhole and emerging at an interactive automobile-assembly-line exhibit.
The trajectory of the working-person’s life in the Midwest manifests itself across two centuries of breadwinning and back-breaking in Frontiers to Factories: Detroiters at Work 1701-1901. At the close of each historical escapade, visitors may stop by the Museum Store to redeem a 10% discount on all purchases, and customers will additionally be able to avail themselves of reciprocal membership at more than 175 other museums and historical societies across the country.
Detroit Historical Museum
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.