When you walk into a museum, you are stepping into a real-world treasure hunt. Whether it’s a fine art museum with masterpieces around every corner or an intimate community museum filled with artifacts showcasing daily life around town, a museum is a place where you can learn more about yourself while uncovering the secrets of the world around you.
In Michigan, there are so many towns with fascinating museums. So if you are a museophile and living in or visiting the Mitten State, these are the destinations that you need to visit.
Resting on the shores of Thunder Bay, Alpena Michigan is a town that is proud of its maritime heritage, and the museums that can be found there reflect that pride.
Besser Musem for Northeast Michigan
The 8-acre campus of the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan sets the stage for a day of exploration.
The exhibits at this massive museum focus on art, history, and science — with some of its most famous exhibits being the 1890s Avenue of Shops, the Alpena Motor Car Company exhibit, and the Natural Wildlife Gallery.
The planetarium, known as the Sky Theater, is a favorite among visitors of all ages who like to learn more about the galaxy above.
Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
In downtown Alpena, you will find the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center — a museum that spans more than 10,000 square feet and tells the story of life along Lake Huron.
In addition to its engaging and interactive exhibits, the museum offers immersive experiences that stimulate the senses, such as the chance to feel the winds of a Lake Huron storm as you walk along a boat deck.
Famously home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has long been a town steeped in culture, education, and sophistication. Naturally, it’s the perfect place to house a plethora of museums.
UM Museum of Natural History
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is one of the town’s most well-known museums thanks to its larger-than-life residents — the reconstructed fossils of dinosaurs, mastodons, and prehistoric whales.
Of course, this museum houses so much more than just fossils. Some of its popular exhibits include one dedicated to geologic formations in Michigan and another that focuses on the relationship that has long existed between humans and our planet Earth.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Children and families from across Michigan flock to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, an interactive science museum that encourages kids to touch, play, and maneuver the equipment in the exhibits.
From the state-of-the-art STEAM PARK to the H2Oh! gallery with plenty of splash-filled fun, your kids will be having so much fun that they won’t even realize how much they are learning along the way.
Dearborn is home to Michigan’s most famous museum — the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Consisting of three facilities, the museum strives to bring American history to life and highlight the spirit of American ingenuity.
The Henry Ford Museum is a sprawling museum filled with incredible artifacts, including the chair that President Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated and the bus where Rosa Parks bravely sat in the front row in opposition of bigotry, hatred, and racism.
On the same campus, visitors will find Greenfield Village, a seasonal attraction that allows guests to walk through time as they explore many of America’s most historic homes and buildings.
At this outdoor living history museum, you can ride an authentic Model T, watch a game of historic baseball as it was played in the 1800s, and step into the home where Henry Ford was born.
Ford Rouge Factory Tour
The final component of The Henry Ford Museum is the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. This excursion takes you over to the factory where the history of manufacturing and the contemporary spirit of sustainability collide.
As Michigan’s largest city, it comes as no surprise that there is a commitment to arts and culture that is revealed through Detroit’s many museums. No matter your age or interest, you are sure to find a museum that sparks your curiosity and leaves you wanting to learn more about a particular subject.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is affectionately known by locals as the DIA, and it boasts one of the largest and most diverse collections of art in the nation. Here are some of Detroit’s other best museums.
Located in a historic home on West Grand Boulevard, the Motown Museum would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.
However, you would be remiss to stop by the city and not take a stroll through the Home of Hitsville, U.S.A., where you can learn about the music of Motown and how the past effortlessly leads toward the future.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
As one of the oldest independent museums focused on celebrating African-American history, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is a must-do for people of all ages.
It has a permanent exhibition that focuses on African-American resilience and rotating exhibits that cover topics such as contemporary African-American art and sustainable living in Detroit.
This relative newcomer to Michigan’s museum scene was opened in 2012 in a building on Grand River Avenue that has long been considered an architectural marvel.
The modern design of the building juxtaposes the historic nature of the campus, immediately setting the stage for an inviting and exciting experience. The museum boasts a collection of more than 10,000 works of art, and its curators prioritize art that is created for and by people from underrepresented communities.
In many ways, Grand Rapids is considered the museum capital of Michigan with more than 20 museums in the city and surrounding area. These are just a sample of the museums that you can visit during your visit here.
Grand Rapids Public Museum
With more than 250,000 artifacts and works of art in its collection, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is the largest of its kind in the community. It focuses on telling the stories of West Michigan.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum
Highlighting the life and work of the Ford Administration, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum is the only presidential museum in Michigan.
There is a deep sense of appreciation for culture and history in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Houghton is one of the best places to visit if you are interested in learning more about the state’s past.
The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum is operated by Michigan Tech and is located on the campus. Its collection has been building since the 19th century and includes more than 40,000 mineral specimens from the Great Lakes region. The most awe-inspiring ones are on display in the museum, including a 19-ton native copper vein.
Muskegon Michigan is known for its Lake Michigan beaches and sandy dunes, but it also is home to one of the state’s most unique museums. The USS Silversides is a submarine museum that has perfectly preserved the history of the World War II naval craft.
The complex includes a two-story museum that focuses on the stories of the people who served on the submarine, as well as the preserved USS Silversides submarine that guests can walk through.
Owosso is a town that is best described as being small but mighty. Located in the heart of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, it has maintained its charm over the years and stayed true to its past.
In addition to its famous and historic Curwood Castle, Owosso also boasts the Steam Railroading Institute. This small museum is dedicated to preserving the steam engines that used to chuff along the railroads in Michigan and throughout the country.
In addition to a small building that showcases the history of steam railroads in Owosso, this museum operates steam locomotives that guests can ride. Its most famous excursion is the North Pole Express — a holiday trip that takes guests on board the famous Pere Marquette 1225 engine and transports them to the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas spectacular.
If tales of the mighty Great Lakes are what you are craving, then Paradise is the town you need to visit. Located on the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Paradise is home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
It’s a fitting spot — the museum rests on the edge of Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast. The exhibits showcase artifacts, photographs, and stories from Michigan’s most famous shipwrecks, including the tragic wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Design a Tour of Michigan Towns With the Best Museums
From a quick Michigan day trip to a new city with an interactive museum to a multi-day museum crawl across the state, you can easily plan an adventure that takes you to some of the most educational and inspiring museums in Michigan. Plan your getaway today.