Be A Tourist in Your Own Town: Explore the Art Scene in Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids

Vacations are not only fun, but they are good for you.  Studies suggest that taking a vacation is good for your health and helps to boost happiness.  While weeklong getaways to far-away destinations are popular, you can often find a great getaway by being a tourist in your own town.

Weekends are a great time to plan a “staycation” and in our new series, Be a Tourist in Your Own Town, we’ll be highlighting some of the great things to do, when you want to get away without going far.  

Exploring the arts and culture scene is not only enjoyable, it can help you learn things you didn’t know. Try visiting a museum or an art exhibit that you haven’t been to, or find a place where you can create artwork of your own. We’ve put together some suggestions for exploring the art scene in Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids. You may even discover a favorite gem that was hiding in plain sight. After all, there’s no place like home.

Ann Arbor

Take a tour of Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor

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Photo courtesy of Motawi Tileworks

Motawi Tileworks is an art tile manufacturer on the west side of Ann Arbor. This locally owned, nationally known art studio creates unique handmade tile reflecting the classic styles and craftsmanship of 20th Century American design. The company’s team of talented artisans uses locally produced clay and glazes hand-mixed to their own recipes to make Motawi tiles. The tiles are created for distinctive installations and as art pieces. Fun and educational guided tours are free every Thursday at 11am, no reservations required. Private tours are available by appointment for a minimum fee of $50, which includes up to ten people. $5 per person after ten people.

Ann Arbor Art Center

This unique gallery shop offers original, one of a kind artwork, fiber, jewelry, ceramics and paintings from local and regional artists. The exhibition gallery showcases the talents of different Michigan artists each month in individual and group exhibits and themed competitions. ArtVentures, an art activity studio, invites children and adults to drop in and learn about art around the world through fun, educational, hands-on projects! Group bookings are available.

If you’ve worked up an appetite after your tour, Ann Arbor is also a great culinary destination with restaurants that will satisfy any palate.

Lansing

Take an afternoon to explore the Eli and Edyth Broad Museum in East Lansing

 The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is a venue featuring international contemporary art. It serves as a hub for the cultural life of Michigan State University, the local and regional community, as well as international visitors. The unique building, designed by the world-renowned, Pritzker Prize winning architect, Zaha Hadid opened to the public in the Fall of 2012. Open Tuesday – Sunday. Admission is free except for some special events.

Visit Lansing’s Saper Galleries

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Photo courtesy of Saper Galleries

Saper Galleries is an award-winning gallery which features high-quality works of art of all media. Since 1978 Saper Galleries has been a leader in making available works of art by noted artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, Peter Max, Pissarro, Alvar, Norman Rockwell and many other superb artists who are not yet as well known.

After a leisurely stroll through the gallery, try out a unique farm-to-table dining experience at Red Haven.

Grand Rapids

Explore the exhibits at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) collection spans Renaissance to Modern art, focusing in on European and American 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture including The Works on Paper Study which features more than 3,500 prints, drawings and photographs. The Grand Rapids Art Museum also serves as a unique gathering place in the heart of downtown with exhibitions, programming, and special events designed to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.

Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Hop on the Tram at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a botanical garden and sculpture park that serves more than a half-million visitors annually. The 132-acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Chadwick.

Wander through Grand Rapids Public Museum

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Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum

This education and entertainment center offers exhibits that display community treasures and explore the regions natural environment. It includes an operating 1928 carousel and the Chaffee planetarium that is equipped with the latest technology, a digital sound system and multiple video players, with numerous special effects.

Take a Walking Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids.

Be sure to check out the Grand Rapids Downtown Market on your way.

Downtown Market features 25,000 square feet of market space, a restaurant, a brewery, a farmer’s market, retail shops, a commercial kitchen, a rooftop greenhouse and the country’s first hands-on kitchen for kids. Visit the outdoor market where you’ll discover (and devour) the best in Michigan produce. And while you shop, why not have a seat and enjoy the talents of local entertainers. The Market Hall hosts a culinary collective of butchers, bakers, fishmongers and more. Stay awhile and enjoy all 138,000 square feet of our food lover’s heaven. Check the website for hours

Grand Rapids is also home to a number of great local breweries to quench your thirst after a long day of exploration. Brewery Vivant, Founders Brewing Co. and Grand Rapids Brewing Co. are just a few that helped shape Grand Rapids into Beer City USA 2013.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. For more information, visit michigan.org.

 Have you taken a “staycation” in your neighborhood? Let us know about some of your local favorites.

Silver Screen “Must-Sees” at the 2014 Ann Arbor Film Festival

Today, Maricat Eggenberger from Visit Ann Arbor shares some highlights from the upcoming Ann Arbor Film Festival happening March 25, 2014 – March 30, 2014. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Gjukich

Photo courtesy of Mark Gjukich

Ann Arbor hosts the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) annually every March, and it’s an event you won’t want to miss!  This year marks the festival’s 52nd year. Known as the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, the AAFF shows more than 180 films from over 20 counties in just six days!

Here are just a few stats…

- The AAFF receives more than 2,500 submissions annually from more than 65 countries.
- AAFF awards more than $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.
- Housed at the Historic Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor.

We spoke with the new AAFF Director, Leslie Raymond to get the scoop on what you don’t want to miss.  She and her team gave us three ways to get the most out of the AAFF.

1. Get a pass!  The AAFF offers passes to attendees, which gets you into each and every day of the festival!

2. Take advantage of the AAFF free events! You can experience some of the films and juror presentations for free. Below are just a few of the amazing free events available.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Steve Anker
Wednesday, March 26, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Steve Anker is dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of Arts, and formerly served as director of the San Francisco Cinematheque and as artistic director of the Foundation for Art in Cinema.

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Hope Tucker
Thursday, March 27, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Hope Tucker, originally from Memphis, TN, is an artist working primarily in film and video. Since 2000, Tucker’s work has been exhibited internationally at museums, galleries and festivals, including four editions of the AAFF.

 

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Jeremy Rigsby
Friday, March 28, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Jeremy Rigsby is the Program Director of the Media City Film Festival (Windsor, Canada). Media City will have its twentieth edition in July, 2014.

From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf
Friday, March 28, 3pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium

The Forgotten Space
Sunday, March 30, 2pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium

3. Make plans to see these headlining films.

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Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Decline of Western Civilization I
Friday March 28, 5:00pm

Los Angeles Plays Itself
Saturday March 29, 12:30pm

From Deep
Saturday March 29, 5:00pm

Purgatorio
Sunday March 30, 3:15pm

*Joining us for the full festival? Book a room at one of our local accommodations! Click here to learn more about which accommodations are offering hotel specials!

Have you been to the Ann Arbor Film Festival? Tell us about your experience.

Maricat Eggenberger PhotoMaricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling, anything eco-friendly and the little adventures in life. 

3 Things to Know about Ann Arbor and the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

Are you heading to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor on New Year’s Day? Laura Berarducci from Visit Ann Arbor brings us a few know-before-you-go tips for enjoying the event.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is no stranger to thousands of sports fans converging at the corner of Stadium and Main Street to cheer as their team battles within The Big House.  However, New Year’s Day will bring a host of different fans — and a sea of red and white will be welcome in Wolverine territory as the Detroit Red Wings face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®.

Many are anticipating that the game will set a new world record for attendance at a hockey game. The previous record was set in 2010 between University of Michigan and Michigan State University at Michigan Stadium. There are also hopes of breaking the Big House attendance record of 115,109 set this year during the night game against Notre Dame.

For those coming to town, here are three key things you may want to know about Ann Arbor and the event to help make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

#1: More than Just Hockey

Coming to town early or staying an extra night? Perhaps you are accompanying a hockey fan to town but aren’t going to the game. Regardless, Ann Arbor has plenty to do leading up to, during, and after the game. A number of businesses are extending their hours and remaining open on New Year’s Day. Check back often as the list is updated weekly. Go to VisitAnnArbor.org for more information about the vibrant, walkable downtown area and a full listing of dining, shopping, and attractions.

#2: New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

The NHL is working closely with the City of Detroit and The Detroit Red Wings to offer an array of events in Detroit to help commemorate the occasion. However, those not heading east for New Year’s Eve should join the “The Puck Drops Here” street party taking place along Main Street in Downtown Ann Arbor from 8 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Headlining the event is Michelle Chamuel, runner-up on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ last season. The grand finale will be the midnight countdown as we lower a 10-foot puck lit with 6,000 LED lights designed and fabricated by local artists. More information is available at VisitAnnArbor.org.

#3: Game Day Specifics

109,901 fans in a city with a population around 114,000? Even with a majority of the University of Michigan students heading home for the holidays, knowing how to get in and around the city is going to make the experience much smoother. Complete details including an area map, road closures, and fan guide are available at nhl.com/winterclassic.

  • Photo courtesy of the NHL

    Buses and Shuttles: The NHL is coordinating a school bus shuttle system from designated areas to the stadium from 9am-noon and then again after the game. On game day, Winter Classic Shuttle wristbands can be purchased at participating hotels and from attendants at designated parking lots. Click here for a complete list of routes and more information.

  • Parking: Check the Shuttle Routes to take advantage of the Park & Ride lots that will be operating on New Year’s Day. You may also park in any of the Downtown Ann Arbor parking garages for the set special event price of $5. Pioneer High School will be open for anyone tailgating before the game, but the golf courses will be closed. More parking details are available here.
  • The Big House: In order to ensure you make it into the game you must observe the strict no bag policy. This includes all bags, backpacks, purses, camera and binocular cases, etc. Click here for a complete list of prohibited items.

Laura Berarducci is the Director of Marketing for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and has been an Ann Arbor resident for more than 30 years. She attended both record-setting games mentioned above and plans to keep her own record intact by cheering on the Detroit Red Wings at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. It will be the only time she wears red in the Big House. For more information about Ann Arbor and the New Year’s Events, check out www.VisitAnnArbor.org