Elephants in Michigan? Absolutely. Ten thousand years ago, mammoths and mastodons roamed the region before mysteriously vanishing. Today, a pair of giant mastodon skeletons are on display at the new home of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor.

The museum closed back in 2017 so the entire collection could be moved into the new Biological Sciences Building, which opened in April. Today, the gleaming, modern museum takes visitors across space and time from the Big Bang to the present. See mastodons, dinosaurs, ancient fish, minerals, interactive displays and a planetarium.

The museum is an intriguing destination for ages nine or older. Ponder our pitifully tiny human fragment of time amid all eternity, then, grab a smoothie at the Darwin Café before you exit. The museum entrance is free.

1105 N. University Ave, lsa.umich.edu/ummnh

Here are five other Michigan college town museums:

  • DeVos Art Museum, Marquette: On the campus of Northern Michigan University, this museum has nice Japanese prints and Native American art, plus the best work of northern Michigan artists. edu/devosartmuseum
  • E. Seaman Mineral Museum, Houghton: This fascinating museum at Michigan Technological University sparkles with multicolored minerals. museum.mtu.edu
  • Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing: The Michigan State University campus art museum designed by noted architect Zaha Hadid is spectacular on the outside, but its exhibits have drawn lukewarm response. Better days are promised, so check it out. msu.edu
  • Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw: Step into the recreated studio of the Detroit-based sculptor (1908-1998) and view more than 200 works in the galleries and the outdoor sculpture garden on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University. marshallfredericks.org
  • Museum Ship Valley Camp, Sault Ste. Marie: Not far from Lake Superior State University is a fun museum inside an old Great Lakes freighter. Do not miss the artifacts from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. saulhistoricsites.com/museum-ship-valley-camp

Above image: Courtesy of University of Michigan



Ellen Creager lives in metro Detroit and writes about Michigan travel destinations and other cultural topics. She is author of a new four-book series, “One Nation For All: Immigrants in the United States.”

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