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Cranbrook Institute of Science

I’ve been itching to get out to a museum ever since I wrote about the Museum Adventure Pass. I’m happy to say that we have crossed the first one off of our list, the husband’s choice: the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills. First, it has to be said that the Cranbrook campus is beautiful. Don’t just go to the museum, bring a picnic or lunch and take a walk around the grounds.

Cranbrook Institute of Science

Eliel Saarinen designed the original Institute of Science building, which opened in 1936. In 1998 the Institute added an addition, which is now the main entrance. Saarinens’ work can be seen elsewhere on the campus, he also designed the Art Museum and the schools’ Cranbrook and Kingswood buildings.





The museum itself is quite diverse:

  • Investigate dinosaurs and their relationship to the modern day bird
  • Learn about mastodons and find out why they became extinct
  • Take part in a computerized virtual dig and analyze the results
  • Explore space and the night sky
  • Find out who Baby Louie is and why he’s so special
  • Delve into motion and movement while watching the Kinetic Machine

Did you know that in 1963, when I-75 was first being built, some kids found mastodon bones at the construction site in Pontiac? The bones were donated to the museum and are part of the exhibit. I don’t know about you, but I never really thought about mastodons living in Michigan.

Exhibit showing the small differences in birds can mean big changes over the years.I also learned that 380 million years ago Michigan was near the equator, we could be living in the tropics! How did they figure this out? The Petoskey stone, our state rock, is actually fossilized coral.

The Kinetic Machine was one of my favorite installations in the museum and I watched it for quite a long time. It reminded me of the game Mouse Trap, the rolling ball speeding up and slowing down through clever engineering.

The Stegosaurus at the entrance.

Cranbrooks’ Institute of Science has many interactive exhibitions that should keep the kids interested. “Hatching the Past” seemed scaled to a kid’s size and they can dig for eggs and dress up like a dinosaur. I was tickled to see signs that said, “Enjoy Touching” and “Feel Free To Touch.”

The Institute also has an observatory, planetarium, and the Bat Zone, which weren’t open when we were there. I do remember going to the planetarium when I was in high school and watching laser rock shows to the music of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, but that’s another story.

The Reflecting Pool outside of the Institute of Science

So, what are you waiting for? Go to your library and check out free passes to the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

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Reader Comments (6)

This is one of Detroit's absolute gems. We have a membership and try to get there a couple of times a year. This is a must see!

May 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

I originally bought the membership because the museum was especially encouraging of girls considering sciences as a career.

My favorite is the rock room!

May 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

I agree, Cranbrook is an absolute gem. I can't wait to go back and and explore the grounds more.

May 26, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I used to spend a lot of time roaming around the grounds back in high school. I found a great book about the campus that I bought for a friend as a gift once.
Thanks Becks! You just reminded me that I always meant to buy a copy for myself too!

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSchmee


You're welcome, I'll have to check out that book. I spent some time on the campus when I was in high school too. Except it was late at night and we were trying to sneak in to take a swim in Lake Jonah!

June 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Do not know what to say, I liked your article and I hope you will have many entries or more.

October 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermahjong

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