The Ultimate Guide to Museums in Pure Michigan

Everyone from children to adults will love these museums that showcase rich cultures, historic innovations, interactive exhibits and more.  Spend hours exploring and learning at these educational (and entertaining) museums throughout Michigan.

A life-size schooner ship model in a museum
Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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Southeast Michigan

1. Detroit Institute of ArtsDetroit

The museum has interactive signs throughout exhibits, with fun facts and activities like Drawing in the Galleries, where visitors can grab a pencil and paper and make their own sketches of the art. A must-see piece is the famous Detroit Industry Murals by Diego M. Rivera.

2. Michigan Science Center –​ Detroit

Not only does the museum have rotating exhibits and shows, but it is home to numerous interactive learning opportunities from the STEM Playground to the SPARK!LAB.

3. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History – Detroit

Discover the legacy and rich culture of African Americans at The Wright—just next door to the Michigan Science Center. Check out the permanent and temporary exhibits that interpret many topics from history to the arts that will spark learning and conversations.

4. The Henry Ford Museum of American InnovationDearborn

Immerse yourself in 250 acres of American’s history. Ride in a Model-T car, tour the Wright brothers’ workshop, see the bus where Rosa Parks created the spark for the Civil Rights movement and so much more.

5. Arab American National Museum – Dearborn

The AANM is the only museum in the nation that celebrates the contributions and tells the history of Arab Americans. Learn the stories from generations—from the first immigrants in the 19th century to present day—and take in the art of emerging Arab American artists.

6. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum –​ Ann Arbor

Make a splash at H2Oh!, an area where kids pump, crank and pour water through 12 contraptions that teach the science behind fluid motion.

7. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History –​ Ann Arbor

The museum is home to a mix of interactive, hands-on engaging activities for all ages. Here you can also find the fossils of two mastodons, prehistoric whales and dinosaurs.

8. Alfred P. Sloan Museum –​ Flint

The Alfred P. Sloan Museum offers various interactive exhibits from Forces and Motion to Weather and the science of Ice Cream Making.

9. Michigan History MuseumLansing

Just a short walk away from the Michigan State Capitol, this museum tells the incredible stories of Michigan’s history through exhibits from the region’s first Native American peoples to the mid-20th century.

10. Impression 5 Science Center –​ Lansing

Creative minds make light paintings and upload them to the museum’s website before using their hands as plasma conductors at the Spectrum zone.

West Central & Southwest Michigan

11. Grand Rapids Public Museum –​ Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Public Museum is among the oldest history museums in the United States, with rotating hands-on exhibits! Don’t forget to take a ride on the 1920s-era Spillman Carousel in a pavilion overlooking the Grand River.

12. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum – Grand Rapids

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, this colorful museum will delight children and parents alike. Stand inside a giant bubble, watch an indoor observation honeybee hive or explore the child-sized Little GR where kids can grocery shop, or make their own Buddy’s Pizza.

13. Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum –​ Portage

Air Zoo features many amusement park-style rides, Full-Motion Flight Simulators, a RealD 3D/4D Missions Theater, Magic Planet and Paratrooper Jump, as well as historical exhibits and educational activities.

14. Curious Kids’ Museum and Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone –​ St. Joseph

This spot is perfect for busy kids! With a farmer’s market, veterinarian clinic, “Kids’ Space” and more, there are exhibits for every kind of young explorer.

Please note: Curious Kids’ Museum is temporarily closed for repairs, but Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone is open for visitors.

15. The American Museum of MagicMarshall

Learn about some of the greatest magicians of all time from Houdini to Thurston. Located in Marshall—a small town already bursting at the seams with history—this museum is dedicated to showcasing the largest collection of “magic” artifacts in the nation.

16. Gilmore Car MuseumHickory Corners

Marvel at the innovation of 400+ vintage vehicles on this 90-acre site. Explore a 1930s-era Shell Gas Station and exhibits that showcase everything from muscle cars to rare, post-WWII toy cars made from tin.  

Northern Michigan & Upper Peninsula

17. Great Lakes Children’s MuseumTraverse City

Here children can interact with a variety of exhibits focusing on the Great Lakes system. Explore a playhouse interpretation of a lighthouse and the keeper’s quarters, “captain” a mini shipping freighter or pretend to be a rain drop and travel through the water cycle.

18. Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center –​ Alpena

Get an out-of-this-world view of clouds, storms and other weather patterns swirling across a 6-foot-diameter model of earth at Science on a Sphere. It’s one of just 100 in the world.

19. Fort MackinacMackinac Island

Take your exploration to exhibits where history actually happened at Fort Mackinac. This military fort, founded during the American Revolution, features 14 historical buildings housing special exhibits, cannon firing demonstrations and exciting reenactment programs.

20. Great Lakes Shipwreck MuseumParadise

Discover the notorious perils of traversing the Great Lakes by ship on the shore of Lake Superior. Learn the legend of the Edmond Fitzgerald freighter that was lost in 1976 less than 20 miles from the museum and visit the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior, the Whitefish Point Light Station.

21. Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum of the Upper PeninsulaNaubinway

Tour 185+ displays including a variety of vintage and antique snowmobiles in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. From the 1920s Model T snowmobile to candy colored paint of the 1970s, there are plenty of unique vehicles that have traversed this beautiful region throughout the winters of history.

22. Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum –​ Marquette

Visit this Marquette children’s museum to pilot a plane, dig for ore and climb up a model stomach before sliding down the giant intestine.

23. U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and MuseumIshpeming

Michigan is the birthplace of organized skiing and where snowboarding was invented, so there’s no better place to learn about that history. View their collection of artifacts in 15,000 square feet of exhibits and explore the NATIONAL hall of fame. 

24. A.E. Seaman Mineral MuseumHoughton

Visit this museum in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula at Michigan Tech University. Take a tour through the largest public exhibit of minerals from Michigan and the Great Lakes region that showcases both a range of colors and textures, as well as their importance in everyday life.