museums

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Saturday, a unique museum experience will open in Michigan.

“Cell Block 7” at the state prison in Jackson will officially open to the public.  The museum is located in the old Southern Michigan Correctional Facility. The cell block was closed in 2007.  

The museum will chronicle the history of state prisons in Jackson, which dates back to the 1830s.    

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Organizers are still raising money for what's expected to be an almost $13 million project and they're in the process of putting the final touches on all the exhibits at the museum.

Once the The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio opens you'll be able to learn about how booze was transported across the waterways from Canada into the United States during Prohibition.  Along with lots of other cool things about the Great Lakes.

Here's what the museum says on its website:

Flickr user Needle / Flickr

Clay Harrell has made saving pinball machines from the scrap heap his mission.

He has been collecting, repairing, and restoring pinball machines -- rescuing unwanted old machines and bringing them back to their former glory.

Now he’s moving his formidable pinball collection into a vacant VFW Hall in Green Oak Township in Livingston County. There he plans to create a private museum of pinball machines.

Clay Harrell joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

You can almost feel the parental summer panic start to kick in. 

School is almost out.

And there are only so many times you can take the kids to the pool before you all go insane.

Those long, hot days can be especially tough for military families, who may only have one parent at home.

That's why 50 Michigan museums are opening their doors, free of charge, to active military personnel and their families this summer.

Port Huron Museum

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - A U.S. Coast Guard ship that participated in early tests of the atomic bomb has been sold by the Port Huron Museum.

The museum said it couldn't afford to keep the Bramble and had to sell it, despite protests by a Detroit-area man who tried to rally the public to the ship's defense.

A piece of aluminum cladding from the World Trade Center is going on display at Castle Museum in Saginaw.
Jeff Schrier / Saginaw News

A permanent exhibit commemorating the events of September 11, 2001 opens today at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, reports Emily Pfund at Mlive.com.

A piece of aluminum cladding about 5 feet long and 4 feet wide is the latest addition to the lobby of the museum, 700 Federal in downtown Saginaw.

user whatimeantosay / morgueFile

The city of Jackson is capitalizing on its long history as the site of a state prison.

In addition to guided prison tours, visitors can now buy prison-related items at the city’s new prison gift shop.

When the Jackson State Prison closed in 2007, it was turned into a live-work space for artists known as the Armory Arts Village. One of the women who lives there, Judy Gail Krasnow, gives guided tours of the historic prison.

She says lots of tourists asked about a gift shop, which didn’t exist. So she created one in the Art 634 building across from the old prison, and built it to look like an old prison cell. Krasnow says the Old Prison Gift Shop was "modeled after the cells at the first prison, which had brick walls, and the doors were those thick, iron bars."

Krasnow plans to sell art made by current and former prisoners through the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP).

Photo courtesy of the Broad Art Museum

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University will not open April 21st as scheduled due to construction problems. Instead, the contemporary art museum will open sometime this fall.

But for those who just can’t wait to see what the inside of the Zaha Hadid-designed museum looks like, the folks at the Broad have created a “virtual” museum that anyone from anywhere in the world can access:

Flickr user Ian Kath

The Arab American National Museum wants to become more than “a building filled with stuff.” That’s why it’s recording the stories of everyday people as part of an on-going project.

The museum just released three interviews it did in conjunction with Storycorps, about profiling and stereotyping after 9-11. The interviews are posted on the website arabstereotypes.org. But the museum regularly posts other recordings and podcasts on i-tunes & YouTube

Matthew Stiffler is a researcher at the museum.  He says one way to counter Islamaphobia is when people who don’t know Arab Americans or Muslim Americans listen to these recordings. “Listening to stories and having these personal connections is the best way to overcome this sort of bias and bigotry that is rampant right now.”

This summer the museum plans to record Arab American kids talking about how the Arab Spring has affected their lives and their ideas about democracy.

Photo courtesy of the DIA

Metro Detroiters may be asked to pay a tax to help support the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The DIA is in talks with commissioners from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties about a possible regional millage to help support the museum.

There’s nothing definitive yet, but if a 0.2-mill tax went through, it would bring in around $22 million for the struggling museum. Oakland residents would pay $19 annually based on average home sales for 2009; Macomb residents would pay $14; Wayne residents $10.

The Detroit Zoo has received public support through a 0.1-mill tax since 2008.

Annmarie Erickson, executive vice president of the DIA, says the  museum is operating at "bare-bone levels." She says if they can’t secure more money, the museum will go into what she calls a “controlled shutdown”:

"We will lose hours, we will probably lose most of our programming, we will certainly lose visitor amenities. Special exhibits like the very popular "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus" - we would no longer be able to afford those."

Photo courtesy of the DIA

The current exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts is shaping up to be the museum’s most popular exhibit in recent history.

Pam Marcil is director of public relations at the DIA. She says attendance at "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus" has been "really overwhelming almost. We’ve had about 60,000 people to date."

She says the “exhibit has brought in 3,500 new and renewed memberships to the museum.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is $650,000 richer, thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Joseph Rosa, director of UMMA, calls the grant a "dream come true" because it allows the museum to shift from an "oh, if we could" mentality to one of "now we can."

Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

The long-awaited Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has officially set its opening date: April 21, 2012.

But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done;  the Zaha Hadid-designed building is still under construction, exhibits still need to be planned, and positions need to be filled.

But Min Jung Kim, the museum's deputy director, is confident it will all be ready for the museum’s grand opening. She says the whole process of creating a museum from scratch is exciting:

Steve Hall / Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Art Museum

Dana Friis-Hansen will take the lead at the Grand Rapids Art Museum next month. On this week's Artpod, we talk with Friis-Hansen about his museum philosophy, the state's art ecosystem, and what he means by "negative space."

Bump it up!

Detroit Historical Museum

Active-duty military members and their families will get free admission to more than 1,000 museums in the United States this summer. It’s part of the National Endowment for the Arts Blue Star Museums program. 129 of those museums are in Michigan.

Bob Sadler is with the Detroit Historical Museum. He says this is the second year the museum has participated in the program and they hope to continue: