Did you know that Ann Arbor is home to world-class museums housed at the University of Michigan, all with free admission? When you visit the Ann Arbor area, you’re walking into a treasure trove of knowledge and wonder, with catalysts for creativity around every corner. Delivering exciting and intriguing works of art, these museum experiences at the University of Michigan (U-M) will dazzle and delight. The U-M is a great place to start, if you’re looking to get inspired and explore the visual arts in the Ann Arbor area.
Here are three of our favorite U-M museums.
University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is a must-see attraction for families, and for anyone interested in ancient and natural history. A completely new museum was opened in 2019, moving from its previous home in the Ruthven Building to its current location in Biological Sciences Building. Many of the new museum’s specimens have never been on display before - so even return visitors who loved the old museum will find lots of new things to see and explore!
Returning visitors will recognize the iconic mastodon couple that was on display in the previous museum. This is the ONLY place in world you can see male and female mastodon skelton's side by side. Other highlights include a Majungasauraus skeleton, a 25-foot Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur model soaring above the atrium, and a high-tech planetarium. See prehistoric whale skeletons and exhibits walking through four billion years of the history of life on Earth - including a new reconstruction of Australopithecus sediba, an extinct relative of humans (the only sculpture of its kind in North America).
University of Michigan Museum of Art
A world-class art institution, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) holds collections representing 150 years of art collecting, with over 20,000 works of art. At 94,000 square feet, it is one of the largest art museums in the United States. In addition to the rotating exhibits, UMMA has permanent collections of:
- European Art 1100-1650
- European + American Art 1650-Present
- 18th And 19th Century European & American Art
- African Art
- Japanese Art
- South And Southeast Asian Art
- Chinese Art
- Korean Art
- Modern And Contemporary Art
With frequent boundary-crushing exhibitions and events, and boatloads of programs and services, this awe-inspiring museum is an artistic powerhouse. UMMA is a must-see for everyone visiting Ann Arbor.
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is a hidden gem located on Maynard Street in the downtown Ann Arbor area, and is home to the only sarcophagus known to have an active Twitter account. The Kelsey's collections range from prehistoric through medieval times. Most exhibits highlight the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, Egypt and the Near East.
Known for its unique exhibits (currently running is one on Ancient Color) and public events, the Kelsey Museum houses over 100,000 artifacts as well as the Villa of the Mysteries Mural - a 1924 reproduction of the wall murals in Pompeii.
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