By Kim North Shine

Detroit is a history-rich city in culture, architecture, business, art and more. Museums abound in and around the city, telling the story of Detroit’s as well as sharing national and international works of interest. Besides being a way to stir up the thinking juices, museums get us out off the couch. Often they can be a family outing, and most admissions are a reasonable cost. Don’t’ forget to call ahead for discounts. The Detroit Adventure Pass is an ongoing program to bring people in to see – and learn – with discounted and free admissions to many institutions across metro Detroit.

Detroit Institute of Arts

5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-7900
Hours: Wed to Thurs 10am-4pm; Fri 10am-10pm; Sat to Sun 10am-5pm
Price: Adults – $8; seniors – $6; 6- to 17-year-olds, $4; college students with valid ID, $5; children 5 and under, free; Detroit residents free on Fridays
Website & Reviews

The DIA is Detroit’s cultural gem and definitely metro Detroit’s most hallowed hall of art and more. Housed in a 1927 Beaux-Arts building along the city’s famous Woodward Avenue, the DIA hosts a wonderful and varied collection of art. Renovated in 2007, the museum boasts more than 100 galleries. The museum has many important works of art in its permanent collection, including Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait” and Diego Rivera’s mesmerizing fresco “Detroit Industry.” It also hosts many important traveling exhibits. There’s no way to see it all in one day, but that’s part of the allure. The DIA I Spy exhibits and at least one piece of art that you CAN touch, make this a fun museum for children too. The museum also features live music events on Friday nights, brunch and classical music on selected Sundays, and many workshops and activities for children. Don’t forget the DIA café and its changing selection of quality, fresh food. There’s also the Detroit Film Theater if you have extra time.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

4454 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-6622
Hours: Wed, Sat, Sun 11am-5pm; Thurs to Fri 11am-8pm
Price: Free. Also, free, guided tours are given on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Website & Reviews

Located in the vibrant Midtown area, MOCAD – as it is called – is host to cutting-edge contemporary art exhibits, live musical performances, literary events and other activities. Housed in a former car dealership, MOCAD recently reopened (Sept. 16) after being closed for more than a month while two new exhibits – Stéphanie Nava: Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) and barely there (Part II) – were installed. The museum’s innovative approach to contemporary art has made it a popular stop for art enthusiasts. MOCAD is perfect as a stop on a gallery museum tour of the area, several of them located on Woodward Ave. alone.

Detroit Historical Museum

5401 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-1805
Hours: Wed to Fri 9:30am-3pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Sun noon to 5pm
Price: Adults – $6; seniors 60 and older, college students and 5- to 17-year-olds – $4; Children under 4 – free
Website & Reviews

One of the oldest museums in America dedicated to chronicling a city’s history, the Detroit Historical Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in learning more about the Motor City – or in teaching their young ones. The museum features more than 600 Detroit artifacts throughout 10 exhibit halls and galleries. Among the museum’s notable exhibits is a walk down a 19th century Detroit street, a look at the life of the city’s early settlers, and an assembly that tells the story of the auto industry. There are also many interactive exhibits. Many of the exhibits feel like toys that widen the eyes of adults and children alike.

Motown Museum

2648 West Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48208
(313) 875-2264
Hours: Tues to Sat 10am-6pm; open same time Mondays during summer months
Price: Adults – $10; seniors and children 12 and younger – $8;
Website & Reviews

There’s a lot packed into this modest, white and blue two-story house topped with a Hitsville U.S.A. sign. It’s the actual spot where the Motown Record Corporation recorded some of the greatest artists and greatest hits of all time and spawned a sound and a nickname that is forever connected with to the city. It doubled as Motown headquarters and the home of Motown founder, Berry Gordy. Inside, you’ll see how one of the world’s most popular music genres took off and spread around the world. There’s been talk – and fundraising – for years about moving the museum into fancier, more modern digs, but part of its charm is walking the same walk, the same steps, through the same rooms, same recording studio, as some of the music industry’s most famed artists: Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5 and many more. Don’t be surprised if you run into a German or other international visitor here as the museum is an attraction for visitors around the country and the world. With the recent death of founder Esther Gordy Edwards, pilgrimages from near and far, are expected to increase. Wait for a guided tour, given regularly, to get the full effect of a visit to this unassuming house that packs such a punch.

Photo Credit: University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art

525 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 764-0395
Hours: Tues to Fri 10am-7pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Sun noon to 5pm
Price: $5 suggested donation

Located in the heart of the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Museum of Art recently completed a mammoth expansion and renovation. Added was a new 53,000-square-foot wing, and the historic Alumni Memorial Hall, the original permanent home of the university’s art collection beginning in 1910, underwent extensive renovation. The result is an art space that UMMA officials say serves as a “town square” for the campus and community. The university’s art collection was established in 1865 and is varied and diverse at more than 18,000 works of art collected over a 150-year period.

Charles H. Wright Museum

315 E Warren Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 494-5800
Hours: Tues to Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 1pm-5pm
Price: Adults 13 to 61 – free; Seniors 62 and older and youth 3 to 12 – $5; Children under 3 – free
Website & Reviews

The impressive, 120,000-square-foot, rotunda-topped museum houses extensive collections on African and African-American history. Established in 1965 by Detroit physician Dr. Charles Wright, the museum moved to its new building in 1997. It features seven exhibition areas and houses more than 30,000 artifacts and other material, making its collection the country’s largest for African American history. There are several permanent collections, including those about the Underground Railroad and the role of African-Americans in the U.S. labor movement. The inspirational exhibit is the museum’s, “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture,” which chronicles African-Americans’ struggles and triumphs through the years. The museum also hosts traveling exhibits throughout the year, as well as films, programs and lectures.

Kim North Shine is a Detroit-area freelance writer who loves seeing something new and hidden on every visit to the DIA’s Diego Rivera mural, fresco depiction of the Detroit’s auto industry’s workers and head honchos.