Presidents Day is a time to celebrate patriotism and reflect upon the history of America. Learning about history can be an exciting experience, especially with the numerous collections and exhibitions found in the Detroit area. Many feature general American history, while others relate directly to the historical aspects of the city of Detroit. All provide a wealth of knowledge showcasing unique artifacts and extensive collections, each telling the story of our past in its own way,
Henry Ford Museum
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
The Henry Ford Museum offers visitors a true vision of American History — over 430 years worth, spanning from 1575 to 2011. The exhibition, “Presidential Limousines,” features automobiles used by American presidents during their terms in office and includes the infamous vehicle which President John F. Kennedy was traveling in when he was assassinated. Other notable artifacts of former presidents includes George Washington’s original camp bed and chest, as well as the Lincoln Chair; the chair where President Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated. The exhibition, “With Liberty and Justice for All” highlights important pieces that showcase the history of American freedom and all that it encompasses, including achievements and struggles. In addition, the Henry Ford Museum also showcases a rare signed copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
Recently renovated and re-opened, the Detroit Historical Museum features long-standing permanent collections, the addition of five new exhibitions and the opening of two special galleries. Explore three levels of learning, discovery and innovative interactive displays. Experience Detroit history in one of the many displays, including “Frontiers to Factories: Detroiters at Work, 1701-1901,” “Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy” and the recreation of the Detroit urban landscape in the1800s – “The Streets of Old Detroit.” The newly expanded collection also features “Doorway to Freedom – Detroit and the Underground Railroad.” A schedule of events can be found here.
Detroit Drunken Historical Society
(Meeting spots vary monthly – please see website for event info)
This is a unique and engaging way to learn more about the history of Detroit. This discussion group is comprised of a lively group of over 1,000 members who love the city of Detroit, its history and alcoholic beverages. Each meeting includes a themed discussion focusing on a segment of the city. Past lectures have included Detroit’s bicycle history, the history of cigar-making in Detroit and Stompin’ at the Senate – 1920’s Night. Once a month, the group meets at a different establishment. Some meetings feature special speakers and presentations and occasionally “field trips” are on the roster. The event calendar can be found here.
University of Michigan
Williams Clements Library
909 S. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Located in the Great Hall, within the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library, is a wealth of historical knowledge. The library houses a vast collection of rare documents, correspondence and maps. Features include books, prints, photographs and manuscripts which represent the history of people in America. The collection spans from the late 15th to the 19th century. The library is a historical setting in itself. It was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn, whose work can be found throughout the Metro Detroit region. Exhibitions and events are held on an ongoing basis, with lectures and presentations given monthly. A current exhibition schedule can be found here.
Related: Best Art Walks In Detroit
Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
The Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the finest collections of art in the nation. The American Art wing houses pieces from the 16th to the mid-20th centuries. The extensive collection includes sculptures, decorative pieces, furniture and paintings. Visitors can view the history of the Americas through the historical artwork on display, visually experiencing the broad scope of our rich and varied past. Diego Rivera created his fresco “Detroit Industry” in the Detroit Institute of Arts. This important work is a cultural masterpiece that depicts Detroit’s leading role in the industrial world.