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Best Permanent Exhibits In The Detroit Area

DIA mural (PSweeting)
(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

The best permanent exhibit in Detroit is the $1 billion art collection at the DIA, and no other museum in southeast Michigan can usurp its crown. However, there are a number of multi-million dollar venues here which are undeniably glorious to experience.

Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-7900

The best part of the DIA's permanent collection is the incredible European Art section. Here you will find Degas, Cézanne, Seurat, van Gogh, Rodin, Picasso, Titian, Rembrandt, Renoir and Rubens. The killer painting is van Gogh's self-portrait, which must be seen as part of any visit to the DIA. Other important works are Renoir's "White Pierrot," Graziella" and "Woman in an Armchair." Monet's "Gladioli" and a stroll through Rembrandt's etchings round out the list.

Related: DIA Collection Could Be Sold To Pay Off Detroit's Massive Debt

Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-1805

The signature exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum is called "Streets of Old Detroit" which has re-created the city as it was known from the 1840s until the turn of the century. You will find an 1875 Sanders Confections Store, Housekeeper's Palace, Kresge and Wilson 5 & Dime, Democratic Free Press and lots of other delightful buildings.

Henry Ford Museum
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 982-6001

The Henry Ford Museum holds a rare signed copy of the Declaration of Independence, but the most fun exhibit is the living history complex called Greenfield Village. Here, costumed interpreters stroll about the gardens and buildings wearing period attire. Circumnavigating the property is a Weiser Railroad with a Victorian-style steam train where passengers can get ferried about the vast exhibition. You will find the Wright brothers' bicycle shop, their home, Lincoln's court house, Edison's laboratory and all sorts of historic buildings. On special weekends, there are re-enactments of historical events, such as the battles of the Civil War. There are also grand performances by the Detroit Symphony during the 4th of July holidays, accompanied by magnificent firework displays.

Toledo Museum of Art
2445 Monroe St.
Toledo, OH 43620
(419) 255-8000

Although about an hour's drive from downtown Detroit, this museum is worth the trip. The Toledo museum has works by the great masters Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, El Greco, Monet, van Gogh, Pissarro, Matisse and Picasso. Highlights include Rubens' "The Crowning of Saint Catherine" and Rembrandt's "Man in a Fur-lined Coat," "Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses" and "Young Man with a Plumed Hat." Van Gogh is represented by "Wheat Field with Reaper," "Auvers" and "Houses at Auvers." Monet's "Antibes Seen from La Salis" and one of his iconic "Water Lilies" is part of the collection. There are several Degas and other impressionists to make this a fascinating museum to visit.

Holocaust Memorial Center
28123 Orchard Lake Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
(248) 553-2400

The Holocaust Museum isn't just about the Holocaust, it's a center that also celebrates Jewish culture. One of the interesting rooms is a timeline showing 4,000 years of Jewish history. Another room celebrates European Jewish heritage, comprised of 23,000 communities across Europe. The museum is interesting to visitors because it explains the foundations of Judaism, its beliefs, holy literature, ecclesiastical laws and customs.

Related: Walk In The Footsteps Of Detroit's Historical And Important Figures

Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. He has seasonal residency in Detroit Michigan, The Italian Riviera, and Honolulu Hawaii. His work can be found at

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