Van Gogh's self-portrait,
The Edmund Fitzgerald lake freighter is chronicled through its tragic Lake Superior voyage during a November storm when all hands were lost.
√Rec Belle Isle Aquarium (Belle Isle Park)– open Saturdays and Sundays only: The Belle Isle Aquarium, designed by Albert Kahn, was originally operated under the auspices of the Detroit Zoo, and is the oldest aquarium in the U.S. Built in 1904, it is largely a replica of the Anton Dorhn Aquarium, the world's first aquarium, opened in Naples, Italy in 1873 where the Belle Isle Aquarium was once a source of pride among local Italians. The Gothic style aquarium is decorated with a keystone carving of Neptune above the entrance. This is a 10,000 square foot brick building with a large gallery, covered by a green glass roof, containing grottos and 60 exhibit spaces. The luminous green ceilings are sheathed in Detroit's ubiquitous Pewabic tile. The aquarium once held about 1,500 fish. (The basement was a Speakeasy during prohibition.)
The Belle Isle Aquarium housed many freshwater species of fish native to the Great Lakes and other areas, some of which were ancient by fish standards and died unexpectedly during transfer to other facilities when the full-time aquarium closed. The Belle Isle Aquarium has suffered from maintenance issues and budget cuts, forcing it to be closed most of the time. It may open again on a full-time basis only if financing is resolved. It opened temporarily during the Shiver on the River event and recently for as much as three days per week due to the generosity of several volunteer docents who work for free. Some aquarium supporters have expressed a desire to open a new, super aquarium Downtown. But groups like the Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium have sought to rehabilitate the facility and bring it back in good standing. Perhaps their chances will be improved under the direction of the Belle Isle Park Conservancy. The State of Michigan has become the island’s proprietor since February of 2014. The aquarium is located next to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory at Inselruhe Ave., Belle Isle Park. (313-852-4141 http://belleisleaquarium.com/aq_hist.html.)
Authentic period paintings of early lake transportation are complemented by dioramas and models
Displays trace lake transportation from Native American canoes to present-day freighters.
Note: Belle Isle Park is a 982 acre Detroit park in the Detroit River accessed by bridge. Belle Isle Park has just been placed under the auspices of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as Detroit’s second state park (via a 30-year lease by the state). Under its operation the state has already begun major new improvement programs to the grounds and facilities.
Since 2014 each visitor entering by car requires a specially designated license plate tag for park access (an $11.00 charge due on their birth month). Anyone entering by approved shuttle bus or on foot or bicycle will be admitted free. Motorcycles require a $5 pass.
Basement Level-- The Streets of Old Detroit, Glancy Trains, Train Depot, Cafeteria, Auditorium, Grand Trunk Passenger Station and Wrigley Hall
In addition, the basement houses a cobblestone, block-long stretch of The Streets of Old Detroit an 1840s to early 20th century collection of shops stocked with period wares and authentic furnishings
Total pieces in the museum's collection number more than 65,000 and are recognized as among the greatest variety and quality found anywhere.
African-American and Native-American Collections
How to use this Page:
This page describes museums and collections in Detroit including a few in the nearby metro area. Together they appeal to interests from history to transportation. It's recommended you take special note of places in this unusual city, shaped by a rare combination of people and events. Detroit's exclusive neighborhoods are insights on living museums built over a century ago while others are visual monographs of affluent Detroiters today. Tours are available to most of these neighborhoods. Some offer bed and breakfasts or other accommodations. Once you complete your review of page 2a you are urged to continue with pages 2b and 2c. (ENJOY THE MOTOR CITY AND HAVE A PLEASANT STAY!)
Early Asian Metal Smithing
1,600 quality objects are on display in more than 100 galleries, making the DIA one of the three finest art museums in America -- a must-see while in town.
American Modern Art
“The Merrymakers,” French Artwork
the Church and Whistler paintings, and subjects of the Impressionist period, by Renoir and Matisse. African American and Islamic Art galleries are among the newly enlarged exhibits.
the medieval suits of armor,
Always popular are the expansive Diego Rivera murals,
A gift shop at the Historical Museum offers books and mementos of the region. Several original Detroit beverages and snacks are sold here.
The museum’s cost of admission is no more than a smile of appreciation.
Exhibits appeal to a variety of interests.
The Motor City exhibit records the rise of nation's auto industry, which first travelled those roads, and visitors can see a portion of a 1990s-era, working assembly line. The first American automobile and other vehicles are on display. Many more vintage autos are stored at the museum's buildings at Fort Wayne, downriver.
Food and refreshment are available, and you can see a fine film at the Film Theatre or listen to a music presentation in Kresge Court on Fridays. (Occasionally Sundays feature live music as well.)
Impressionist Period (” Nut Gatherers,” center)
DETROIT TRAIN STATION & SPORTS PLAQUES
GUARDIAN BUILDING COM- MEMORATIVE (Refer to Page 9 for Guardian Bldg. Details.)
The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward in the Midtown, Cultural Center, across from the Detroit Public Library and the Detroit Historical Museum, near the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Michigan Science Center. (313-833-7900.www.dia.org.)
You’ll find the Detroit Film Theatre at the east side of the DIA. It’s another fine example of the city’s original film palaces. (Refer to Theatre Page 3 for more details.) Most theatres have been converted to live stage venues. This one remains active as a limited release and art film exhibitor. The entire theatre was recently renovated. It’s also the setting for the Friday PBS television series, Film Festival, hosted by Eliot Wilhelm.
√Rec College for Creative Studies (Taubman Center): The banded exterior archways of the Taubman center contrast sharply with the clean sheet austerity of its stark white interior. Albert Kahn designed the building.
This center today is focused more on nature than the former zoo that held large animals on the island.
Belle Isle Nature Zoo(Belle Isle Park): This little zoo is managed by the Detroit Zoological Park. The facilities are housed in a renovated building constructed with the mission of bringing families closer to nature.
Early Ford cars appear in the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit.
Mariner’s Church: This church was built in 1849 and moved to its current location at Jefferson next to Hart Plaza and the Renaissance Center. The city’s oldest surviving Gothic structure, this church performs a memorial service for mariners lost in the immense inland seas of the Great Lakes and its connecting waterways each second Sunday of March. (Perhaps one of the most serious of recent lake tragedies, was the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald freighter in Lake Superior, 1975.) The church is located at 170 East Jefferson. (313-259-2206 www.marinerschurchofDetroit.org.)
HIGHLAND PARK PLANT
This plant was Henry Ford's first plant to introduce the 5 Dollar Day and truly large scale, semi-automated mass production, putting the Ford Motor Co. on the world map on October 7th, 1913. Efforts are underway to make this plant a museum.
They convey the vastness of the Great Lakes as an inland fresh water sea with a transportation culture that is unique in the world.
The total volume of the Great lakes and its connected waterways holds about the same amount of fresh water as Lake Baikal in Russia. Each contribute 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply.
Visitors will find the Dossin museum on Belle Isle an engrossing contribution to the maritime history of the Great Lakes with some beautiful exhibits. Admission is free and the museum was recently renovated. The modest, glazed, blue-brick museum is located at 100 The Strand on Belle Isle Park.
Chart your course to the MacArthur Bridge by following Sunset Drive from East Jefferson and East Grand Blvd. near downtown Detroit to the island. (313-852-4051 www.glmi.org.)
The island is now run as a Michigan State Park and requires a fee for admission or park pass.
(Refer also to the Mariner's Church web site for related details regarding the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald. See the building below. To some it looks like it has a smiley-face expression – easily recognized on Jefferson next to the Ren Cen in downtown Detroit. Or refer to the International Institute, Wilkinson ships collection, in Midtown for more model ships and boats.)
The museum is located at 5401 Woodward in the Midtown, Cultural Center, across from the Detroit Public Library and
a block from the DIA. (313-833-1805.www.detroithistorical.org)
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (Belle Isle): This is a greenhouse and botanical garden inspired by Monticello, and designed by Albert Kahn in 1904. It is the nation's oldest botanical conservatory an aluminum and glass building originally constructed of wood beams on grounds covering 13 acres. Anna Scripps Whitcomb left her 600-plant orchid collection to the conservatory. The conservatory, which is 85 feet tall (at the dome) with total volume of 100,600 cubic feet, includes a palm house, a rose garden, a show house with a variety of blooming plants, and an outdoor lily pond with koi – some so big they’re demanding their own swim lanes.
The two wings of the building include banana trees, sugar cane, coffee plants, orange trees, orchids, succulents and cacti. The collection briefly included rare British orchids during World War II to protect them from bombing raids. The Conservatory's own orchid collection is one of the largest in the nation. Admission is free. This venue has undergone an HVAC upgrade in 2011 but could use some general renovation otherwise. The Conservatory is located at Inselruhe Ave. on Belle Isle near the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and the Belle Isle Aquarium. (313-628-2081 www.absolutemichigan.com/.../anna-scripps-whitcomb-conservatory-belle-isle/.) Refer to Belle Isle, Page 11.
It's now engaged in examining the local wildlife of the area and Michigan in general, providing nature trails and interpretive exhibits on flora and fauna of the land and the surrounding Detroit River.
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European and American Collections
A shipwrecked French barque, named the Griffon, found itself at the center of serious international contention for salvage rights at the bottom of Lake Michigan. Probably the first "ship" to sail the Great Lakes, she was headed for the Green Bay area with a heavy load of furs, and lost near present day Escanaba, Michigan in 1679.
The French government sought control over the Griffon's artifacts when claims of its discovery were made.
FEATURED FIREPLACE & WALL DECORATIONS
Examples have found their way onto the fireplace mantles of many a rich patron as well as the Louvre.
The word "Pewabic" came from a copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and is Ojibwa for copper-rich soils. Today Pewabic Pottery is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Its artisans churn out tiles, commemorative plaques, figurines, reliefs, holiday decorations, bowls, plates, vases, trivets, cups, pots and pitchers -- by tradition. These highly sought after collectibles can be purchased or custom designed.
A half-scale locomotive and other early train technology are found in the Riding the Rails exhibit on the second level.
The visitor may be deceived by the absence of visual distractions in the building but great talent is readily seen on the many design floors. Only a sample of this ability appears in the gallery. It is a product of this school's highly skilled student art culture. Request a tour of the gallery and the classrooms if you wish to be impressed.
√Rec Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: It was first opened in 1965, and is now the world's largest museum of African American history and culture. The structure is topped by a 100 by 55 foot glass dome and has over 30,000 collectibles. It serves the cultural community by preserving the artifacts of African Americans, within several distinct exhibit areas. Beneath the Ford Freedom Rotunda dome is a notable work in terrazzo tile entitled Genealogy, displaying the unique heritage of African Americans and their enduring roots. Genetic testing was made available at the museum to offer individuals a look into their own genetic heritage.
Exhibits include seven bios on the lives of African Americans, and themes such as Our Journey Through African American Culture, And Still We Rise, an interactive exhibit, The Underground Railroad Collection (Blanche Coggin), the Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, The Coleman Young Collection and The Sheffield Collection on the labor movement. The museum also houses The Louise Lovett Wright Research Library and the 317 seat, General Motors Theater (refer to the Theatre Page of this website). A museum gift shop sells genuine African books, art and other keepsakes. The museum is located in the heart of the museum district of the Midtown Cultural Center, near the DIA and the Michigan Science Center at 315 East Warren Avenue and Brush Street. (313-494-5808.www.maah-detroit.org.)
√Rec Model T (“T”-Plex) Automotive Heritage Complex: Founded as a museum in 2000, this is Henry Ford's first (non-automated) mass production factory in the famed Milwaukee Junction area, and is preserved as it looked in 1904 with exactly the same exterior and original windows. The little Piquette Avenue Plant is part of the Motor Cities National Heritage site, which has been operated under the auspices of the National Park Service since 1998. This plant immortalized the Model T as the Universal Car. It was the benchmark vehicle that became available to average citizens and helped to usher in what many regard as the new middle class and defining mobile culture of America. Many of the assembly line's first successful techniques were developed here, helping it to break a production record. The third floor of the facility is maintained much as it was in 1905, and with the original coat of paint from 1910. Included, is the secret Experimental Room where Ford developed the “T” variation of his car. In truth, this is no more than an empty room, but for some auto purists it's thrill enough just to stand where Ford once stood.
The college is primarily a school of design, well-known in the automotive world and in other industries. A portion of CCS is housed in the former Argonaut Building of Harley Earl fame, recently renovated and now known as the Taubman Center, in the New Center area. (Harley Earl invented the stylish "fins" seen on late-50's-early 60's American vehicles.) Both full-time and extension courses are available in this location.
Students design everything from cars and gym shoes to motorcycles and yachts.
Freshmen were ecstatic with the new facility when it opened. Facilities were much improved over those available at the Kirby campus and computer technology made a marked improvement over earlier equipment.
Only the finest students are accepted into the elite programs. They’re treated like Rock Stars as long as their efforts result in the exceptional output expected of a first rate institution. Professional dedication brings them to the classroom from dusk to dawn. Evaluation is rigorous and intense. Many students live in the building’s dorms or in Midtown Detroit to avail quick access to the classroom.
Some of the first-rate student art has made it into prestigious collections. (Art Gallery photos pending.)
The Taubman Center now shares space with the Fossil-Shinola design company. Shinola designs and makes watches and bicycles the start of a new Detroit manufacturing industry. (313-664-7400 Collegeforcreativestudies.edu.)
A number of Model T's are on display in the plant along with several other vehicle designations. Among the many models built here and, which preceded the T of 1908, are the Models C, F, B, K, N, R and S. Also, the popular Liepelt Workshops on Model T maintenance and preservation programs -- offering valuable training to enthusiasts and restoration buffs -- have returned to the "T-Plex." The training sessions include: Curburetor, Commutator, Coil Box and Coil, Generator, Starter and Troubleshooting Problems. You can also directly participate in exhibits by donating defective parts or extra parts to museum displays. The museum includes a Gift Shop, which sells Model T paraphernalia. It's located at 461 Piquette Ave. in the historic, New Center area of Detroit, near the Fisher Theatre and the original GM, Cadillac Center headquarters buildings. (Portions of the museum building are unheated, however.) (Interior photos pending.)(313-872-8759 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
PLEASE GO TO 2b, Museums & Collections, New Center Cont'd.to continue reviewing the many attractions on this page.