If you love museums – and have a library card – have I got a treat for you! For its second year, the Detroit Museum Adventure Pass is offering free passes to 28 Detroit-area museums and cultural attractions. All you have to do is to present your library card to get one.
Last year, over 100,000 people took advantage of this program, and the program has been renewed through October 24, 2009. It is sponsored by an alliance of Macy’s, the Library of Michigan Foundation, and the Cultural Alliance of Southeast Michigan. Passes are good for either 2 or 4 people (depending on the museum) and are offered on a first-come, first-served policy.
This is the way it works: You visit your local library (where you undoubtedly already have a library card, right?) and you’ll see a kiosk displaying large laminated tickets for all the available local museums. Choose one that you’d like to visit, and take it and your library card to the circulation desk, where the librarian will exchange it for a paper pass for a particular museum, which will expire in 7 days from the date issued. Take the paper pass to your local museum, and you’re in!
There are some exclusions, of course. Most passes are for general admission only, and won’t cover any special exhibits with an additional admission cost. They can’t be applied toward the cost of group tours. Each library has only a limited number of passes available at any one time for any given attraction. Also, you can only check out one pass per 7-day period. (Of course if more than one family member has a library card, each cardholder would be allowed a pass.)
The passes are for top-notch local attractions, too – some of the best in the Detroit area. Check these out:
Adventure passes for these museums admit 2 people:
The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn is the first Arab-American museum in the world. It is one of the Detroit area’s newer attractions, since it has only been open since 2005.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, in the Cultural Center area of Detroit, is the largest museum of its kind. It has more than 30,000 artifacts, some magnificent architecture, and houses the Horace Sheffield Collection of the American labor movement. (The Adventure Pass is not good at this museum during the months of July and August.)
The Cranbrook Art Museum is located on the Cranbrook campus in Bloomfield Hills and deals with modern and contemporary art and architecture. The museum is currently closed but is scheduled to reopen in the fall – hopefully before October 24th.
The Cranbrook House and Gardens is also on the Cranbrook Campus. The house was designed by the famed architect, Albert Kahn, in the English Arts and Crafts style, and is furnished with many antiques and interesting items. The grounds cover 40 acres of plants, sculptures, fountains, and architectural items.
The Cranbrook Institute of Science, also on the campus in Bloomfield Hills, features both permanent and changing exhibits on a variety of topics in Natural History, as well as hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and even a bat cave!
The Detroit Historical Museum in the Cultural Center of Detroit features exhibits on the industrial, historical and cultural history of Detroit, including a re-created historical street scene and a cutaway view of part of an auto assembly line.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is, for my money, the best museum of any kind in Detroit. It’s also located in the Cultural Center area, and contains over 100 galleries and 60,000 works of art in an area exceeding 600,000 square feet.
The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores is known for its stunning architecture and its fine furnishings. It was the home of Edsel and Eleanor Ford until their deaths in 1943 and 1976, respectively.
The Ford Rouge Factory Tour combines a walking tour, historical footage, and a gallery exhibition for a look at how automobiles are made. There is also a view of what they call the “world’s largest living roof”, a 1.1 million square foot roof covered with sedum, which can be viewed from an observation tower. The Rouge Factory is located in Dearborn.
The Henry Ford Estate, Fair Lane, is also located in Dearborn. It was the home of Henry and Clara Ford for 30 years.
The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm in Rochester Hills is a complex of historical buildings, including a dairy barn, farmhouse, and various buildings and grounds. The house and farm were the home of Sarah Van Hoosen Jones, the first woman in the country to earn the degree of Doctor of Animal Genetics. Sarah was the fifth generation of the Van Hoosen family to reside at the Centennial Farm.
Adventure passes for these museums admit 4 people:
The Anton Art Center is located in Mt. Clemens, and offers exhibits and classes.
Arts and Scraps, in Detroit, claims to provide 28 tons of recycled industrial scrap annually to over 275,000 children to use in creative projects.
The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn provides exhibits and displays dealing with the automotive history of Michigan.
The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center offers classes, exhibits, and a gift shop. There are currently 25 exhibits open.
The Birmingham Historical Museum and Park includes 2 historic houses and a historic park. There are both historical displays and interactive exhibits for the children.
The Detroit Artists’ Market in the Cultural Center of Detroit offers juried shows and exhibits.
The Detroit Children’s Museum is the third oldest children’s museum in the country. (It dates back to 1917.) It covers the areas of science, history and culture.
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is located on Belle Isle in Detroit. It is a maritime museum, and contains such fascinating items as the anchor of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the Miss Pepsi hydroplane, and even the actual pilot house from the SS William Clay Ford. (You can stand at the wheel and look out over the Detroit River, and pretend you’re the captain!)
The Grosse Pointe Historical Society in Grosse Pointe Farms offers admission to the Provencal-Weir House on the second Saturday of each month. The home is a Greek Revival farmhouse built in the early 19th century and was the home of Pierre Provencal, an Indian agent turned farmer, his family, and a number of orphans.
The Howell Nature Center in Howell is home to a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, as well as to a number of permanently injured wild animals and birds. There are also 4 miles of hiking trails available.
The Lorenzo Cultural Center in Clinton Township is closed until September, but we can expect a new program then: More Than a Game: How Sports Shape Culture. Past programs at the Lorenzo Center have featured exhibits, speakers, videos, and live performances.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is located in the Cultural Center of Detroit. It’s one of Detroit’s newer museums – it only opened in 2006, and features changing exhibits and various public programs.
Pewabic Pottery is Michigan’s only historic pottery, and the building itself is a National Historic Landmark. The pottery was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton, a leading artist in the Arts and Crafts movement.
The Scarab Club, in the Cultural Center area of Detroit, is a facility for artists, students, and teachers. It is housed in a building constructed in 1928 in the Arts and Crafts style. The Club owns about 100 paintings, with about 20 on view at any given time, and also holds special exhibits and competitions on various subjects.
The University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor is particularly noted for its fossils of dinosaurs, mastodons and pterosaurs, as well as its exhibits on current Michigan wildlife.
The Wyandotte Historical Museum, Wyandotte, consists of three historic homes and various displays relating to the history of the region.
The Ypsilanti Historical Museum in Ypsilanti offers a view of the day-to-day life for citizens of historic Ypsilanti.
There is a great deal more information on each of these attractions available at the Adventure Pass website, www.detroitadventurepass.org, including links to most of the individual museums for even more information. You will also find that some of the museums and attractions offer a discount on gift store items to pass holders. (It varies by museum, so be sure to check the website.) Don’t forget that there are a limited number of passes available at any one time, and they are first-come, first-served. If your library has an on-line catalog and reservation system, you can even check ahead of time to see if there are any available, although you’re not allowed to reserve them.
Don’t let another boring day pass you by. Detroit is a great city with lots to see, and you can’t beat the price. (And, if by some chance you don’t already have a library card, wouldn’t this be a great time to get one?)