Any visit to Ann Arbor isn’t complete without a visit to one of its museums. With a number of excellent university museums, a Presidential Library and some fun and educational choices for kids, it’s certainly home to a variety of options. So, whether you want to see art or archaeological artifacts or learn about science or snakes, these are the best museums in A2.
The premier children’s museum in Ann Arbor, the Hands-On Museum enables kids to get to grips with the wonders of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The museum, which occupies a historic, four-story firehouse, contains over 250 interactive exhibits suitable for children of all ages. Admission is $12.50 or $5 after 5 pm on Thursdays.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
Paired with the Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, the Ann Arbor-based Presidential Library contains a wealth of documents and photographs from the 1974–77 presidency of Michigan-raised Gerald R. Ford, his wife Betty, his White House staff and more. Permanent and temporary exhibitions tell his life story through rare photos and documents; it also hosts guest speakers who focus on different aspects of Ford’s life.
University of Michigan Museum of Art
Housed in a building that combines the historic Alumni Memorial Hall with a new modern wing, the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art has a broad collection of around 20,000 objects and artworks from around the world, with a strong range of European, Asian and African pieces. It also hosts rotating exhibitions and regular gallery talks and tours. Admission is free of charge, though the suggested donation is $10.
Leslie Science and Nature Center
The Leslie Science and Nature Center is a partner of the Hands-On Museum and has a similar mission to inspire kids and adults to engage with the natural environment. It was established by the city on the land of the Leslie family, who gifted it to Ann Arbor with the request that it be used for children. Along with wooded trails to explore, it’s home to birds of prey and a Critter House with frogs, snakes, and turtles.
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
The University’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is a treat for history fans, with rich collections and an active exhibitions program dedicated to Classical, Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeology. There are approximately 1,500 artifacts on permanent display, including ancient sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry, and it hosts several new exhibitions each year, all of which can be seen for free.
Kempf House Museum
Get a taste of life in Ann Arbor around the turn of the 20th century by touring the restored home of the German-American Kempf family. While the house was built in the 1850s, it has been preserved as it was in the 1890s—when they lived and worked in the city—complete with an 1877 Steinway Concert Grand Piano that has been in the house for over 100 years. Look out for lectures in spring and fall.
University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
Currently closed throughout 2018, the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History will reopen in 2019 in a brand new building. Promising to break down the boundaries between the public and research areas of the museum, it will feature observable, real working laboratories, more interactive and hands-on exhibits and expanded programs to promote the understanding and appreciation of the natural world and our place in it.