What to do in the Detroit area when the weather gets cold and snowy and you're yearning for a nice walk?
One great solution to that dilemma for us, especially when the temperatures dip below zero and the wind chill dives to unmentionable sub-zero readings as it's doing here this month is to relieve a bit of our cabin fever by talking a stroll through history at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.
Regular readers at Midwest Guest know that we have memberships at The Henry Ford and we often enjoy visiting to photographing its outdoor living history facility, Greenfield Village. We also enjoy checking out the cool artifacts in the warm environs of the indoor museum, making full year-round use of our museum memberships.
Over the years, Tim and I have amassed quite a collection of images of our favorite historical objects and exhibits in the museum, and I'm sharing some of our favorite artifacts and exhibits here in hopes that it may encourage you to visit The Henry Ford or help support your own local museum by visiting and purchasing a membership:
Driving America-It should come as no surprise that automobiles play a starring role at a museum named after one of America's best known automotive pioneers. Gear heads will find plenty to admire at The Henry Ford. "Driving America" covers 80,000 square feet of space in the museum with 130 vehicles, more than 60 showcases of automotive-related artifacts and a 100-seat "drive in" theater that plays films, as well as hosting special theatrical events or musical performances. The museum closed most of their automotive exhibit for nearly a year before re-opening a re-imagined version of the exhibit in early 2012 that featured museum goers' favorite cars and roadside artifacts, as well as many new interactive features designed to encourage guests to delve deeper into the history of America's love affair with cars and their impact on American popular culture and everyday life.
Rosa Parks bus-The Henry Ford commemorates February as Black History month in a big way each year with events and special exhibits, but one of the most prized artifacts it proudly displays year-round is the Montgomery, Alabama city bus that Rosa Parks rode into history after refusing to relinquish her seat to a white man in December of 1955. The bus sat, sadly neglected in an open field, for several decades before The Henry Ford acquired it to loving restore and display at the museum. Museum visitors can board the restored bus and sit in the place that Parks refused to vacate in 1955.
Lamy's Diner-Experience a meal in a 40-seat 1940s-era roadside diner. I loved this artifact when the museum first included it in its exhibit about the car and how it affected American culture, but I was overjoyed when the museum reworked the classic roadside diner to allow visitors to enjoy a quick meal. We love stopping to sit at the counter and ordering retro favorites like a sandwich and a quintessential Detroit beverage like Faygo Rock & Rye.
McDonalds sign-This 1960s McDonalds 26-foot-tall sign is one of my favorite pieces in the museum because of the personal attachment I feel to it. This particular sign stood at its original location on John R in Madison Heights long after many of the chain's locations replaced the neon version of this sign with more modern versions of their famed "Golden Arches". I loved driving by this sign featuring McDonalds' original Speedee logo for many years on my way to work, so I was happy to see it find a new home in the museum when McDonalds finally replaced it at the restaurant with a more modern sign.
Wienermobile-This 1952 vehicle is reportedly one of the museum's most photographed artifacts and often draws a crowd of kids on their way to the museum's Wienermobile Cafe where they can grab a quick hot dog or other snack. The modern versions of the famed hot-dog-shaped vehicle are larger and plusher, but I like this classic version of the Wienermobile just fine.
Made in America-This exhibit has some cool machinery, engines and other manufacturing artifacts highlighting the work of American innovators and inventors from the 18th to 20th centuries whose work powered the country's development through the Industrial Age. Tim and I both appreciated this mid-nineteenth century steam engine's Gothic design. You can see echoes in Tim's photo of the Gothic-style arches that I remember seeing in ornate churches and other buildings of that time period, although the beautiful lines of this steam engine spent much of its lifetime hidden inside of a lead processing factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Dymaxion House- I love the circular and streamlined architecture of this cool home designed by R. Buckminster Fuller, who was an architect, author, inventor and more. This home is a 1946 prototype of a Fuller design for an aluminum house. The two-bedroom home is about 1,100-square-feet with a design meant for easy shipping of the light-weight aluminum parts and easy assembly. The Henry Ford acquired the home in 1991, taking ten years to restore its 3,000 component parts and reassemble the structure before opening it to the public in 2001.
We've also enjoyed many of the temporary exhibits at The Henry Ford in recent years, including: Lego Architecture: Towering American Ambition that included Lego models of some cool Midwestern landmarks; Rock Stars' Cars & Guitars 2; and a special showing of the Emancipation Proclamation that drew 21,105 visitors to the museum for a 36-hour vigil showing of the famed document several years ago.
I'm looking forward to the "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" exhibit coming to The Henry Ford in May, 2014. I've seen some of the 250 items featured in this show at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame + Museum in the past, but this looks like a fun show with a leather jacket from Joan Jett, a bustier from Madonna, a Fender guitar from the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, and Lady Gaga's infamous meat dress, which I've yet to see!
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