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Detroit’s Greatest Hits: Museums & Libraries

As you plan your conference itinerary for MLA/SLA ‘23, also consider the array of sightseeing activities available in and just outside Detroit! This post kicks off our “Detroit’s Greatest Hits” series starting with museums and libraries!

Take an afternoon or a day before or after the conference to explore Detroit’s museum district - just hop on the free QLine (Woodward Avenue streetcar) stop near the conference hotel and take it northbound to the district! A hub of museums and libraries are within a two-block walking radius on or near Woodward Ave.

  • The Charles Wright Museum of African American History - Founded by Dr. Charles H. Wright, a prominent Black physician and Civil Rights activist in Detroit, the Wright is one of the largest museums in the US dedicated to celebrating the history and culture of African Americans. Be sure to view the renowned And Still We Rise exhibit, which shares stories of resilience from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement, and check back for a new traveling exhibit coming soon!

Open Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun 9-5, Tue 9-7; $12-$15 admission

  • Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) - Ranked as one of the top six art museums in the US, the DIA was founded in 1885 and now boasts over 65,000 artworks from around the world including Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Must sees while visiting include Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescos (pictured above), Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait, and, for something unique, the The Paul McPharlin Puppetry Collection, a rotating display of theatrical puppets.

Open Fri 9-9, Sat/Sun 10-5; $7-$14 admission

  • Detroit Public Library (DPL) - Right across Woodward Ave facing the DIA is the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. It originally opened as a one room library in an area high school in 1865, but with the growing population of Detroit at the turn of the century, the large Italian Renaissance style building was constructed and opened in 1921. DPL now has 15 branch libraries and a mobile library. Don’t miss DPL’s mesmerizing art and architecture interior with double imperial staircases and frescos (pictured above)!

Main library open Mon/Thu/Fri/Sat 10-6, Tue/Wed 12-8, Sun 1-5. Be sure to call to make sure the third floor with frescos is accessible to the public when you are planning your visit.

  • Detroit Historical Museum - The Detroit Historical Society just celebrated its 100th anniversary and its museum features permanent exhibits focused on Detroit history as well as traveling exhibits. Must sees include Doorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad and America’s Motor City, as well as a walk through the Streets of Old Detroit.

Open Thu - Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5; $6-$10 admission


Interested in Venturing Outside the City?

If you have an extra day and transportation options, we recommend visiting nearby Dearborn, Michigan, a 20-minute drive from Detroit, for a day trip:

The Henry Ford - Opened in 1933 to the public, this museum complex displays Henry Ford’s massive collection of American artifacts through two venues: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village, a walkable historic village recreating the past. Did you know Henry Ford deconstructed, transported, and reconstructed these buildings from their original locations to the village, including Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory? Also available are tours of the Ford Rouge Factory showcasing Ford F-150 truck production and an IMAX theater.

Open daily 9:30-5; $22.50-$30 for museum admission & $24.75-$33 for village admission

Arab American National Museum - Dearborn is home to the largest Arab American community in the US and this is “the first and only museum dedicated to telling the Arab American story.”

Learn more about the history, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans as you tour the galleries; you can also book an in-person tour for $10 via their website.

Open Thu/Fri 11-6, Sat 12-6; $4-$8 admission

These are just a few examples of the amazing museums and libraries of Detroit! Our future posts will highlight even more as we explore the icons, art, music, and food of the city!

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