The Michigan State Museum was established in 1857 with the idea of collecting items from the natural world for the benefit of the students at the brand new university. Since it was founded, the MSU Museum has grown to not only be a natural science museum, but also a culture museum. The museum is free, however donations are greatly appreciated (suggested $5 for adults, $3 for children.)
Possibly best known for its dramatic full dinosaur skeletons of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus, the MSU Museum actually has close to one million objects. While most of these are featured in the museum on a rotating schedule many are housed around the campus. What is on display in the museum is only about ten percent of the full collection. When exhibits are not on display, they can be viewed for research purposes by contacting collections managers (specific to types of artifacts.)
The MSU Museum is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian museums. There are about 150 affiliates throughout the country, many of which are located at public universities like Michigan State. The goals of the Smithsonian affiliate program, which is only ten years old, are to expand educational programs and exhibition development and strengthen research partnerships across the United States.
One of the greatest things about the MSU Museum is the variety of its exhibits. Currently, the museum has an exhibit on display call “re: Dress” which features spectacular dresses by MSU undergraduates made entirely from recycled materials. By partnering with other MSU departments the museum broadens the wealth of information it can give to its visitors. Another great exhibit on display right now is the Mask exhibit. Located in the main gallery, the mask exhibit, called “Mask: Secrets and Revelations,” houses masks from cultures all around the world, including our own. Masks of famous superheroes, as well as MSU’s Sparty, decorate the walls of the mask exhibit providing a cool and thought-provoking experience for all who visit it.
The MSU Museum also offers great family friendly events throughout the year. In August the museum hosted the Great Lakes Folk Festival in downtown East Lansing. The stereotypical thought about museums is that they are always fixed in time. The MSU Museum is the exact opposite of this stereotype. With the great infusion of exhibits, the MSU Museum is worth not just one visit, but many visits. It is truly an awesome place in the state of Michigan. Don’t forget to find the museum on Facebook and on Twitter before you visit!! ~Melissa Warner, Associate Editor