Ann Arbor is a vibrant small city located about 43 miles west of Detroit via M-14. This puts the city in close proximity to Michigan’s bustling metropolis. Ann Arbor is renowned for being the home to the sweeping University of Michigan campus which generally runs just to the east of the city’s downtown. However, you don’t need to be a college student to enjoy all that the city has to offer.
In fact, some of the best Ann Arbor, Michigan attractions are found on the university campus. I will go over four museums that you can find at the University of Michigan.
University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is located on North University Avenue. It is inside of the university’s Biological Sciences Building which it had recently relocated to from elsewhere on campus. This museum explores the natural world, our place in it, and the impact that we have on it. There are a total of seven permanent exhibits available at the museum.
The first exhibit, Evolution: Life Through Time, explore what life was like on Earth over a period of four billions years. You will be able to learn about how life on earth evolved and continued through five major extinctions. You can expect to see fossils of dinosaurs and other living things on display in this exhibit.
The Exploring Michigan exhibit is focused on the US state of Michigan and feature life-size dioramas that showcase the state’s varied habitats and wildlife. This exhibit also include hands-on activities designed especially for children. If you are curious about how your body works, you may want to check out the Under the Microscope exhibit.
There, you can step inside a giant replica of a cell and take a close look at the different types of cells inside your body and what they do for your body. There are also some fun interactive games in this exhibit for you to try out. The People and the Planet exhibit explores the relationship between ourselves and our planet.
You can learn interesting things in this exhibit like how early civilizations were shaped by the planet’s resources and how the growth of the human population impact the planet overall. The exhibit, On the Trail of the Mastodons, is centered on a group of extinct animals called mastodons. They are notable for their similar appearance to both mammoths and elephants.
You can look forward to viewing epic skeletons of mastodons in this exhibit. In fact, this is the only place in the world where you can view a male mastodon skeleton and a female mastodon skeleton on display right next to each other. If you are curious about how scientists measure different things such as the distance between galaxies and star clusters, the Measuring Time and Space exhibit is the place for you.
And lastly, as for Earth itself? You will want to head to the exhibit called Dynamic Planet to see how our planet evolved over the course of its existence. You can expect to see a collection of rocks, minerals, and crystals there too. Admission to the museum is free of charge to everyone. Also, there is an onsite restaurant called Darwin’s Cafe. Souvenir shoppers can stop by the onsite museum store.
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Another museum you can visit on the university campus is the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. It is located on South State Street inside Newberry Hall – a stately castle-like building on campus. This museum revolves around ancient and medieval civilizations. The museum’s solo permanent exhibit is located in the William E. Upjohn Exhibit Wing.
It is notable for holding many artifacts and artwork from the ancient and medieval eras in the Mediterranean and Near East regions of the world. You can look forward to checking out ancient Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Coptic, Persian, and Islamic archaeological artifacts.
Some highlights include objects from the ancient cities of Karanis and Seleucia, a colorfully painted Egyptian mummy coffin, magical amulets from the ancient Near East, Greek pottery, Greek and Roman sculptures, Roman glass vessels, and an epic watercolored replica of the famous murals in an area of ancient Pompeii called the Villa of the Mysteries. The museum is free for everyone to visit and a gift shop is also located onsite.
University of Michigan Museum of Art
The University of Michigan Museum of Art is located across South State Street from the previous museum. The museum is easily recognizable by the red sculpture that is erected on the lawn in front of the building. This sculpture is called Orion and was designed by famed sculptor Mark di Suvero. It stands at 53 feet tall and is an abstract form of art.
Inside the museum are around four floors worth of galleries for you to check out. The lower level is notable for its display of paper-based artwork and small sculptures. Works of Asian ceramics are also showcased on this floor of the museum. The first floor houses four galleries. The Richard and Rosann Noel gallery is focused on European art from the years 1100 through 1650.
There are paintings and works of decorative art found in this gallery. The Marvin and Mary Davidson gallery is centered on European and American art covering nearly two centuries from 1650 to 1830. One highlight of this gallery is the massive painting called Dead Soldier by English artist Joseph Wright of Derby. The Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Apse gallery serves as the museum’s beautiful entranceway.
It focuses on a broad mix of American, European, African, and Asian art. The highlight of this gallery is a pair of sculptures called Nydia and Flora. The Irving Stenn Jr. Family gallery is dedicated to cutting-edge contemporary installation art. The second floor feature eight galleries which is the most of any floors at the museum. So, I will mention just a few of the second floor galleries here.
The Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen gallery is dedicated to African art from a range of regions and traditions with a particular focus on works from central Africa. The artwork that shines the most in this gallery is an almost life-sized maternity figure from the Urhobo people. Those who are into Japanese art should check out the Japanese Art gallery.
You will want to be on the lookout for the life-sized Vairocana Buddha from 17th century Japan. Also worth highlighting in this gallery is a group of armors from the Daimyo period. Located on the mezzanine level of the museum are four galleries that places the spotlight on Chinese art, Korean art, and Modern and Contemporary art.
All in all, there is a lot of art to see at this museum. So, take as much time as you need there. Better yet, entrance to the museum is free of charge.
Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry
The fourth and last museum to mention here is the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry. It is located directly northwest of the first museum I mentioned earlier in this post. If you are curious about dental technology as well as the history of the dental profession, this is the museum for you. There are currently four exhibits at the museum.
They are Tooth Fairy Magic, Dental Hygiene: A Century of Progress, Student Reflections: A Retrospective of Dental Education, and Inside the Dental Practice 1860 – 1940. The first exhibit is focused on how childhood tooth loss rituals are done in different countries around the world. The second exhibit is concerned with the dental profession and how it has developed over the last one hundred years.
The third exhibit share the experiences of University of Michigan students who have received an education in the dental field at the school. The last exhibit explores the dental offices and equipment from that time period and how they evolved with the advancement of technology.
As is the case with the other three museums, you can visit this museum for free. This is one of only a handful of dentistry museums in the world. So, you may want to check it out if you find yourself in the area.
These are the four museums you can visit at the University of Michigan, even if you aren’t a college student there. So, you should put these Ann Arbor, Michigan attractions on your checklist.
They don’t really cost you anything to visit. So, there really isn’t any reason not to visit any of these alluring university museums. Also, if you are heading to nearby Detroit, consider reading up on the places to visit along the Detroit Riverfront. That includes Belle Isle Park.
Ann Arbor Hotel
Should you need a hotel to stay overnight in Ann Arbor, I am here to help you out with this. Here is a hotel I would suggest for you.
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Ann Arbor Univ. Mich Area
This hotel is located on Boardwalk Drive just north of the interchange of State Street and Interstate 94 in the southern portion of Ann Arbor. This is the newest hotel in town and it is only a five minutes drive north to the University of Michigan via State Street. There is an onsite restaurant and bar if you are hungry and/or want a drink. It is called Mallet’s Creek Bar & Grille.
The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center for your workout needs. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $94 to $179. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these four museums before? Feel free to leave a comment below.