Old instruments? Mastodons? These 12 University of Michigan Museums Have It All

ANN ARBOR, MI – Michigan’s state motto translates to, “If you’re looking for a nice peninsula, look around.”

Replace the peninsula with museums, and that pretty much describes the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

There are 12 museums on campus, ranging from natural history and archeology to ancient dentistry and historic musical instruments. If you count UM’s many libraries, the number of historical artifacts is even greater.

Read more: Discover 10 rare and fascinating artifacts at the University of Michigan’s Clements Library

Here is a list of museums you can enjoy on your next trip to campus.

Planetarium Director Matt Linke poses in the Planetarium at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in the Biological Sciences Building, 1105 N. University Ave. in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.Jacob Hamilton | Ann Arbor News

Natural History Museum exhibition

Located at 1105 N. University Ave. in the Biological Sciences building, this museum is perhaps best known for its giant skeletons of ancient behemoths, dinosaurs, and other prehistoric lifeforms.

Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday from September to April, the museum consists of four large permanent exhibitions. This includes the Hall of Evolution fossils, a gallery of Michigan wildlife, ancient artifacts from human cultures around the world, and geological displays of rocks and minerals.

Additionally, the museum has a planetarium that has been updated with state-of-the-art video projection technology since 2007.

Read more: Mecca of the behemoths? University of Michigan study tracks mating and migration cycles of animals

Stones UM Childhood Exhibition AW

Tombstones of a family (top) and a little girl (bottom) on display at Archeologies de l’Enfance, the first years of life in Roman Egypt. The exhibit is at the Kelsey Museum of Archeology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.Photo of MLive file

Kelsey Archeology Museum

Located at 454 S. State St., the Kelsey Museum houses tens of thousands of prehistoric to medieval artifacts and art from ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and the Near East.

Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the museum also contains the largest collection of Greco-Roman Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo, according to its website. There is also a large collection of Egyptian mummy masks and stone-on-stone Latin inscriptions surprisingly found in North America.


Since 1837, researchers at the University of Michigan have boosted the university’s population of plants and fungi to the tune of 1.7 million specimens in its herbarium.

Located in the Research Museums Center at 3600 Varsity Drive, the Herbarium welcomes visitors only by request. To make an appointment to view specimens, you must contact one of the staff through the website at lsa.umich.edu/herbarium/collections/visitors.html.

The millions of specimens came from areas of Michigan, the Great Lakes, and even the world. The collections help researchers better understand how plant ecosystems work, where they grow and how they have evolved over millions of years.

University of Michigan Campus

Rackham Auditorium, 915 Washington St. on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Thursday, December 10, 2020.Jacob Hamilton/MLive.com

Anthropology Museum

Located in the School of Education Building, 610 E. University Ave., the Museum of Anthropology just celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Anthropology is the study of mankind’s past, so curators and researchers have filled the museum with artifacts evoking the emergence of human culture in the Paleolithic era through the rise and the expansion of New and Old World civilizations.

There are 3 million artifacts, specimens and documents in the museum from the Great Lakes, North America, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The museum welcomes researchers, classes and the public by appointment. You can contact the office at 734-764-0485 or by emailing Anthro-Museum@umich.edu.

Visit to the UM Natural History Museum

A male mastodon fossil greets visitors in the atrium of the University of Michigan National History Museum at the Biological Sciences Building in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.Jacob Hamilton

Paleontology Museum

This museum is related to the Natural History Museum, as both are located in the Ruthven Museum building and the UM Natural History Cabinet organized the university’s paleontology work into a museum in 1882.

However, it is a research museum and not open to the public. Paleontological specimens are on display at the Natural History Museum, free and open to the public.

The museum contains fossils acquired on Isle Royale in northern Michigan in the 1800s, as well as other plant and animal fossils used for hands-on education about the environmental, ecological, and paleogeographic conditions in which these creatures were living.

UM Zoology

William Fink, professor and curator of the Museum of Zoology, opens one of the jars containing a rattlesnake preserved in ethyl alcohol in the Herpetology Wet Collection in the Zoology Department of the Alexander G. Ruthvens Museums Building on Friday. . NEWS FROM ANN ARBORPhoto of MLive file

Zoology Museum

Located in the Research Museums Center on Varsity Drive, these collections study animal diversity across the planet. This includes studying the evolutionary origins, the genetic information these species contain, and the ecosystems they form.

The six divisions of the museum are mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, fish, insects and other arthropods and molluscs. The collection consists of 15 million specimens, including 4-6 million insects, over 5 million molluscs, over 3 million fish, around 350,000 amphibians and reptiles, around 200,000 birds and around 130,000 mammals.

The Museum of Zoology is another research museum that is not usually open to the public. Those interested in viewing specimens should refer to the Museum of Natural History website at lsa.umich.edu/ummnh.

University of Michigan Campus

“Behind the Walls” by Jaume Plensa stands outside the University of Michigan Museum of Art, 525 S. State St. on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.Jacob Hamilton/MLive.com

University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)

This art complex, which was recently renovated with a $41.9 million expansion and restoration of its Alumni Memorial Hall, contains more than 18,000 works of art.

The museum, 525 S. State St., is open and free to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Friday. sunday.

Current exhibits include a collection of Chinese ceramic art, an exploration of African history through sculpture, the “Watershed” collection that tells stories from the Great Lakes region and more. Discover the exhibitions available here.

Read more: The Beauty of the Great Lakes, Flint Water Crisis Featured in University of Michigan Art Exhibit

Peonies bloom in 2022 at Nichols Arboretum

Peonies bloom at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.Jacob Hamilton | Ann Arbor News

Mattheai Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

These open-air museums are perhaps best known for the peony garden that blooms each spring, but there’s so much more to explore.

The outdoor trails and natural area of ​​the Nichols Arboretum (or Arb) and Botanical Gardens, open free to the public from sunrise to sunset, include nearly 800 acres of gardens, nature preserves, plants, trees and more right next to the Huron River.

The Botanical Garden also has a reserve and exhibition gardens accessible to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

The botanical gardens include bonsai trees, plants from throughout the Great Lakes region, grass knots, perennials, wildflowers, medicinal plants and more.

Read more: 100 Years of Bloom: Historic Peony Garden Anniversary Comes With Several Events

Cultural trip

Deco Period Dental Operatory at the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.Photo of MLive file

Sindecuse Dental Museum

Located inside the School of Dentistry, 1011 N. University Ave., this museum details the history of the dental profession.

There are over 10,000 objects that show how dentistry worked as early as the 18th century.

Directions to get to the museum are available here. It is open to the public free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Fun buildings around UM

Detroit Observatory in Ann Arbor at 1398 E Ann St. on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.Alyte Katilius | MLive.com

Detroit Observatory

This observatory is one of the oldest on campus, as it was built through former UM President Henry Tappan’s vision to transform the university into a research institution.

Today, at its 1398 E. Ann St. location, it still houses the original astronomical instruments such as a 6-inch Pistor & Martins meridian circle and refractor telescopes once considered the largest in the world. The distinctive dome is rotated manually by pulling a continuous rope.

It is open and accessible to the public free of charge through animations, tours and visits. Walk-in visits are from noon to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Scheduled events require prior registration and can be found at detroitobservatory.umich.edu/visit.

Read more: The cube? The rock ? No. Here are 10 even more unique University of Michigan landmarks

Stearns Musical Instrument Collection

The Stearns Collection on North Campus contains over 2,500 pieces of historic instruments and is maintained by the University of Michigan School of Music. Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan.University of Michigan

Stearns Musical Instrument Collection

Funded by a gift from Frederick Stearns in 1899, UM’s collection of historic musical instruments now numbers more than 2,500 pieces.

It operates through the School of Music’s Earl Moore Building, 1100 Baits Drive on North Campus. The collection contains instruments from cultures of six different continents.

Instruments are only available to scholars and performers.

Virtual museum

The Virtual Museum is a project that creates a virtual collection that details the history of information technology at UM.

It is an effort to show how computing has innovated over the years, both internationally and nationally. The goal of the project is to remind and teach the public of this history and to commemorate advances in technology.

Since it is not a physical museum, you can find out more on its website at website.umich.edu/~umvm/contact.html, by calling 734-647-5276, or by emailing an email to virtualmuseum@umich.edu.

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