Detroit has rich and diverse history. The city is known as the Motor City for its automotive history, Motown for its contribution to music history, and Tigertown for the famous Detroit Tigers baseball team. Detroit is a cultural hub with museums, galleries, concert venues and theaters that provide world class entertainment. The city has some historic churches and buildings that are beautiful examples of architectural designs of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It is a diverse community where people can experience authentic world foods, music and dances at special events. Discover which Detroit venues can teach you the most about Detroit history.
2648 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48208
The Motown Museum provides the history of Motown Records and the distinct music style of many of its artists, including the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes. Motown Records was established in 1959 by Berry Gordy, and many music legends, such as Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross, began their career with the company. Motown Records operated out of a two-family flat called Hitsville USA, with a studio and a control room. The Gordy family lived on the premises. Hitsville USA was transformed into the Motown Museum by Esther Gordy Edwards, wife of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, in 1985. Visitors can walk through Studio A, the control room, view the gallery featuring the Motown music story, see special exhibits and get a glimpse of where the Gordy family lived. The museum is open on Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. – 6p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Visitors view the museum through guided tour groups that are organized as visitors arrive. The tours are available on a first come, first serve basis. The last tour starts one hour before close. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for seniors over age 62, and $10 for youth ages 5-17. Children 0-4 have free admission. Group admissions can also be purchased for groups of 20 or more people. Museum memberships are available and provide free unlimited admittance to the museum. Visit the museum’s Facebook page for more information.
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
If you want to go one place to learn about Detroit history, pick The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. When you visit The Henry Ford, you have access to four educational venues – Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory and Giant Screen Experience. Each of these venues provides a wealth of Detroit historical information. At the Henry Ford Museum, you can learn about inventions, civil rights, technology, historical artifacts and much more. Greenfield Village is an outdoor museum where visitors can explore 83 historic structures with reenactors and activities that create an authentic experience of the era. The 80 acres are divided into seven historic districts: Working Farms, Liberty Craftworks, Henry Ford’s Model T, Railroad Junction, Main Street, Edison at Work and Porches & Parlors. Henry Ford’s Model T district is a great place to learn about Detroit automotive history. You can learn about Thomas Edison’s contributions to Detroit history at Edison at Work and Railroad Junction. The Ford Rouge Plant allows visitors to tour a working truck plant and learn Detroit history from their gallery of iconic Ford vehicles. The Giant Screen Experience features Michigan’s largest 2D/3D screen with 4K digital projection and sound. The theater plays educational movies, sometimes showing a Detroit historical film. For current hours and ticket information, visit The Henry Ford’s Facebook page.
5401 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
The Detroit Historical Museum, part of the Detroit Historical Society, features permanent exhibits and special exhibits celebrating Detroit history. The museum was founded by attorney Clarence M. Burton in 1914, and then later founded the Detroit Historical Society with 19 local historians in 1921. Permanent exhibits include “America’s Motor City,” “Streets of Old Detroit,” “Doorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad,” “Gallery of Innovation,” and “Allesee Gallery of Culture and Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy.” The Detroit Legends Plaza, outside the building, is a tribute to local sports, media and entertainment celebrities. Many Detroit celebrities have made autographed handprints in cement on the plaza. The Detroit Historical Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is free to the public.
315 E. Warren Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
Detroit is home to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the largest African American history museum in the world. The museum showcases important moments in African American history and culture throughout the nation through their permanent collection and special exhibits. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, once known as the International Afro-American Museum and the Museum of African American History, was founded by Dr. Charles Wright in 1965. The museum is an important part of Detroit’s history, and also features displays specific to Detroit history. The permanent collection includes the “Harriet Tubman Museum Collection,” the “Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection,” the “Sheffield Collection” and the “Coleman A. Young Collection.” The Wright Museum’s features also include the interactive exhibit called “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture,” the “Ring of Genealogy” celebrating famous African Americans in history, and the General Motors Theater which shows films and live performances. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. Admission cost $8 for adults ages 13-61, $5 for seniors over 62, and $5 for children ages 3-12. Children under 3 years old and members have free admission. To learn more about the Wright Museum, visit their Facebook page.
13624 Michigan Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126
Metropolitan Detroit is home to the only Arab American museum in the nation. Located in Dearborn, Michigan, the Arab American National Museum celebrates the history and culture of Arab Americans. The museum features exhibits that show important moments in Arab American history through permanent collections and special exhibits, including displays relating to Metropolitan Detroit history. The permanent exhibits includes “Coming to America,” “Living in America,” “Making an Impact,” and the community courtyard exhibit, “Arab Civilization: Our Heritage.” Arab American National Museum hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Admission costs $8 for adults ages 13-58, $4 for seniors over 59, $4 for children ages 6-12 and $4 for student and teachers with ID. Children under 6 years old and members have free admission. Visit the Arab American National Museum Facebook page to learn more about current exhibits.
Adrienne Warber is a Freelance Writer with more than 15 years of professional writing experience. After earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Michigan, Adrienne worked in marketing, where she specialized in communications writing. She is now a full-time freelance writer and writes on many topics, ranging from arts and events to crafts and health. Her work has appeared both in print and online. Her work can be found at Examiner.com and adriennewarber.com.