Museums in the Area

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There are so many things to do in and around East Lansing that it can often be difficult to choose. In the event that you’re feeling a bit indecisive, consider checking out one of the local museums. The following are just a few of the offerings in the area:

Abrams Planetarium
(Science Road, across from Shaw Hall; admission $4 for adults)
This often-overlooked classic has called MSU home for 50 years. The planetarium consists of three sections: the Exhibit Hall, Blacklight Gallery and the Sky Theater. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, the planetarium features public shows, and on occasional Fridays and Saturdays during the warmer months, the MSU Observatory opens its doors for free public observing; the planetarium’s website,, lists these days.

Impression 5/R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
(Museum Drive off Michigan Ave., downtown Lansing; admission $7 for adults)
These neighboring museums offer less common exhibits. If you are looking for a fun, family day exploring science concepts like the light spectrum, engineering, nature and beyond, then Impression 5 is the place to go. They offer a self-guided, interactive learning experience for all ages. Alternatively, if it’s transportation history that you’re into, there is no better place than Michigan to find it. Most people know about the history of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, but did you know that Lansing has its own car manufacturing history too? With pieces dating all the way back to 1886, the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum documents this rich heritage with “thousands of irreplaceable items,” according to its website.

The MSU Museum
(West Circle Drive, across from the Main Library; admission by recommended donation)
Among the many firsts the university has achieved, the MSU Museum became the first museum in the state to receive Smithsonian affiliate status in 2001. One of the oldest in the Midwest, the Museum was founded in 1857 and currently contains nearly 1 million artifacts. According to its website, the Museum is “committed to understanding, interpreting and respecting natural and cultural diversity.” Like many museums, feature exhibits are alternated monthly; this December check out the “Our Daily Work, Our Daily Lives Brown Bag Series” featuring experiences and culture surrounding the worker, and in January, discover “Quilts of Southwest China.”

Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum
(East Circle Drive, at Farm Lane; admission free)
A newer addition to campus, constructed in 2012, this museum stands out on campus due to its more modern architecture. The design was the result of a worldwide competition. Read more about the winning designer, Zaha Hadid, on ing Magazine’s blog ( The museum features contemporary international art as well as a historical section. The art museum is unique in its “ability to frame the broad range of contemporary art practices within a firm historical context,” according to its website. Four special exhibitions will be running through April: “Immediate Things: Material Culture from West Africa” (March 27), “Moving Time: Video Art at 50, 1965–2015” (Feb. 14), “Material Effects” (April 3) and “Andrew Sendor: Paintings, Drawings, and A Film” (April 24).

Michigan Historical Museum
(West Kalamazoo Street, Downtown Lansing; admission $6 for adults)
For those who grew up in the Lansing area, you have probably taken more school field trips to the Michigan Historical Museum than you can remember. But for those who come from out of town, or who want to revisit their childhood, this museum is definitely a must-see. It features exhibits from as early as the settlement of Michigan through the late 20th century. Some favorites include a copper mine, a one-room schoolhouse and the 1957 Detroit Auto Show. The entire museum includes four floors of exhibits, so giving yourself an hour and a half is recommended to see the whole thing.

Tags: January