The Henry Ford: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation
Article and Photo’s by Heather L.
After our time in Greenfield Village, we decided to head inside to the Museum of American Innovation. As soon as we stepped through the doors we were greeted by Presidential Vehicles on one side, a walk through exhibit of the progression of liberty on the other, and giant planes straight ahead. Naturally, our little one took us straight towards the Heroes of the Sky exhibit first.
Next up we saw full sized locomotives that allowed patrons to not only see these behemoths from the outside, but to also step inside the locomotive or peek in a window of a period passenger car. Right around the bend was a full setup of model trains running for you to watch. Equipped with cameras, some of the trains allowed onlookers to see the journey from the perspective of the locomotive.
As we continued along we also came across a series of carriages and automobiles that served a number of our American presidents through the ages. Finally, at the heart of this wing was Lamy’s Diner. Much like many of the structures in the village, this dinner, which was originally built in 1946, was relocated and restored into a fully operational diner where patrons of the museum may stop and grab a delicious treat during their visit.
Our next stop was the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit. This feature takes you through events in American history, highlighting the pursuit of liberty for all. From Thomas Paine to Harriet Tubman and so much more, there are videos and audio recordings, as well as artifacts from our nation’s history regarding the journey our nation started long ago. To be fair, this area may not be suitable for younger ages as it does cover some of the darker parts of America’s history and the pursuit of equality. However, there are numerous hands-on learning opportunities. Our little one enjoyed pushing the buttons that played songs from the Civil War and lifting panels quizzing you on the Constitution. She especially enjoyed getting to climb aboard the very bus that Rosa Parks rode all those years ago. Patrons are welcomed, and encouraged, to sit in all of the seats (except the driver’s seat) as they listen to an actual audio recording of Rosa Parks explaining the events of that December day back in 1955.
From here we made our way to a series of activities in the Made in America exhibit. This area was full of even more hands-on experiences for our little one to enjoy. Her favorite was building a small, wooden Model T on a hand-cranked assembly line. (Actually, her favorite part was cranking the assembly line quickly while everyone else tried to keep up with the work!) Right next door was an authentic Model T (1917) which is stripped down to the frame every night and rebuilt the next day by patrons, as guided by skilled presenters. After its completion in the afternoon, patrons are encouraged to get behind the wheel for pictures. For additional information about time and costs for non members of the museum, see their website.
The final wing of the museum takes you through a series of exhibits that feature American life from differing perspectives. You can stroll through recent decades or dream of the future…
…and see vintage dollhouses, agriculture through the ages, firearms, and housing (past, present and future) are just a few of the highlights. To put a final cap onto an already full day, who wouldn’t want to take their picture with the original Oscar Meyer Weinermobile?!
Along with all of the permanent exhibits within the museum, there are also a number of visiting pieces as well as future projects on site. You can get up close and personal with the design process as you work your way through the House Industries exhibit. Create your own font, visit Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s futuristic Mysterion show car, or feast your eyes on an original Apple 1 computer – all of this and more can be experienced through September 4, 2017, only at The Henry Ford.
Even if you miss the House Industries exhibit, there is always something new to see. The Henry Ford is currently working on a new, permanent exhibit; Mathematica, opening fall 2017.
Again, this does not even begin to scratch the surface of everything there is to see and experience at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation or Greenfield Village. I would highly recommend taking an entire day to experience either one of these branches of The Henry Ford, expecting to come back again and again. For more information regarding daily activities and calendars of special events and exhibits, please visit their website, http://www.thehenryford.org. Playful Parent Guide to Greenfield Village Link
A few tips while you’re visiting the museum:
- Unlike Greenfield Village, food is not permitted, except in specified locations.
- Again, comfortable shoes are encouraged as there is a lot to see in the museum.
Hours: Open 7 Days a Week: 9:30am – 5:00pm (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days)
Address: 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124‑5029