Things I Love At The Museum

Last year, we decided to purchase a membership to the Henry Ford, which is one of the more prominent museums in the area.  It has a lot of history, from the auto industry but also in many other things that go beyond.  We probably would have joined sooner, but the drive is about 40 minutes from our house.

From a frugal perspective, it can’t be beat.  The membership was $145 but it is tax deductible, meaning that it’s probably more about $115 out of pocket.  Each visit would cost us around $40, so just three visits makes it pay for itself.  We’ve gone six times and have another two months until our membership expires, so we’ve more than taken advantage.

Here are some of the great things that I personally enjoy at our museum:

  • History through the years – They have a section where they have living rooms or bedrooms set up as they would have been in a typical house at the time, throughout the 1900’s. You see how things were for my parent’s generation and other people who grew up before you, but the fun is seeing your own decade.  I look at the 1980’s display and can point out more than a few things that I had or knew friends who did.
  • Steam engines – Somehow we always got diverted around the big area that’s dedicated to steam engines.  They have at least a dozen steam engines, some of massive proportions, which were disassembled and reassembled in the museum.  They give information about how each was used, and it just fascinates me.  Now, we just run some electrical lines and get things going, but for a long time, steam was used to run machines in factories.  A totally different time yet the various technical components that went into it were some of the things that gave companies and people an edge.  Yesterday, steam engines, today microchips, tomorrow…well, who knows?
  • Cars – With ‘Ford’ in the name, you know that cars are going to be featured prominently, and they are.  They show cars and some of the innovations throughout the years, from the Model Ts to a recent Prius and just about everything in between.  Beyond just a traditional ‘here’s a car and what it did’ display, they have some pretty cool things: Race cars used in various race circuits, an automobile that set and held the land speed record (409 MPH) for many years, and other cool things give a lot of insight to the automobile, and it’s interesting even if you’re not a car buff.
  • Presidential ‘ends’ – This one might be a bit morbid, but history is history.  The mb-201401lincoln500x500museum has two items associated with presidential assassinations.  They have the chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot, and they also have the actual car in which John F. Kennedy was riding when he was shot and killed.  One thing that amazes me is that after the assassination, the car was gutted, reinforced, and used in the motorcade pool for another ten years or more.  Creepy!
  • The Rosa Parks bus – About fifteen years ago, a rotted out bus was found in an Alabama field.  Somehow it was traced back as the actual bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, creating a defining moment in the civil rights movement.  The museum purchased it and arranged for a complete restoration, making it look as it likely did in the 1950’s.  It’s on display, and you can get inside and see where this piece of history took place.  They play a recording of Rosa Parks talking about that day and the events that unfolded, and it’s startling to think of how much has changed.
  • How excited our kids get – With all that, you’d think that we got the membership for our enjoyment.  In truth, while we love it, the real reason we got it was for our kids.  They’re only four and two but they love going and always want to see whatever they didn’t see last time, on top of the ‘favorites’ that they each have.

The stuff I’ve described is all on the inside portion.  And there’s a lot more I didn’t even cover.  They have a massive section with trains and locomotives used when rails ruled transportation.  There’s a bunch of antique furniture, as well as old farming equipment.  Not that these things aren’t interesting, but we just haven’t spent the time we have on the items above.  Another day.

On top of all I’ve mentioned, they have an entire separate area called Greenfield Village that has houses and shops from colonial times and other such periods that show how life was for people years back.  We went to that once or twice but barely scratched the surface.  I think we plan on getting another membership when ours expires, and will try to get out there more often to see this, as I know it would be just as interesting.

Do you get fascinated by history?  What are some of your favorite museums or attractions which unlock the past?

Note: I wrote this post completely because I think this museum is cool and I love sharing the experience.  There was no promotional consideration or otherwise.

16 thoughts on “Things I Love At The Museum”

  1. What an awesome sounding museum. It sounds like it’s creating a living history for people to experience. I personally love car museums. Here in L.A. we have the Peterson Automotive Museum that I’ve visited a couple of times -all about cars with a few other props from different time periods. Museums are a terrific frugal activity.

  2. Annual passes are great deals especially if you have kids and visit a museum multiple times during the year.

    Here in the Bay Area, one great way to get free passes to museums all around the area is to check out deals through your local library. As long as you have a library card you can get all kinds of perks. Here in the Bay Area it’s called Discover & Go.

  3. That sounds like an awesome museum! I agree, the JFK car does sound a bit creepy – but would still be cool to see. My undergrad is actually in History and I grew up in Richmond, VA so I was surrounded by history from the Colonial period to the Civil War. We were in Vegas last week for vacation and we went to the Mob Museum, which is actually the National Organized Crime & FBI Museum. It was really neat to see and had quite a bit of history woven throughout it. It only cost like $18/person so it was well worth it in my opinion.

  4. I have to admit…I’ve never been to a museum. I don’t know that there would be much of interest in one in the place where I live…..but maybe I’d be surprised. Something to check out!

  5. Wow. That is a museum I’d love to swing by! I think that history is always so fascinating. Even more now that the world is advancing way too fast. Museums just seem to take you into a whole new world you know nothing (or at least a little) about and it’s always an amazing experience. I always make it a point to visit museums I am close to when traveling and they’re always worth the price!

  6. You forgot to mention the Greenfield Village, another way to “walk through history” and of course visit Thomas the train once a year! 🙂

  7. I love history. My favorite museum is nowhere near where we live, but the U.S. Air Force museum in Dayton, OH, is awesome. There is so much on display that it takes days to take it all in. My other favorite museums are the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, and then close to home, is the Silicon Valley Tech museum.

  8. That sounds great! I think went to that Museum as a kid – at least I’m pretty sure this was the one, near Dearborn right? It was when we were driving from Chicago through Detroit to get to Canada, and my Dad planned to stop there. It was probably 30 years ago (yes, I was really young so I don’t remember much). Just writing that makes me feel old 🙂

    Here in Chicago, there are some truly outstanding museums. Well worth it for taking families. The history of it comes in two ways for me: 1) the actual historical nature of the museums themselves, which truly do unlock the past, and 2) the personal history of taking my kids to the same museums I went to as a kid. Cool to share the same experiences, though they of course get to see the updated, modern exhibits.

Comments are closed.