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Guide To Ann Arbor's Hands-On Children's Museum

Michigan and the Detroit area have a number of spectacular museums that cater to the whims and interests of the children around us (and inside of us, as well). But none other garners more praise and accolades than the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum right in the center of downtown Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan campus. With such a great location, there is no shortage of places to eat or numbers of exhibits to visit when taking the time to visit the museum. Here's a guide to help you and your family and friends best utilize the best children's museum in the Midwest.

Ann Arbor Hands-On Children's Museum
220 E. Ann St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 995-5439

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Children's Museum is a result of hard work by a dedicated group of volunteers led by Cynthia Yao, who in 1978 were granted approval by the city to convert an old brick firehouse in the downtown district into an interactive, hands-on museum for children of all ages. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum opened in 1982 with 25 exhibits on two floors, two staff members and 10 volunteers. These days, the museum boasts over 250 exhibits that have been completed with the help of five grants from the National Science Foundation totaling $1.7 million, which funded the creation of some new exhibits and the expanded facility we have today. The museum's mission is to help educate children to the wonder and splendor of a good education in science.

Top Exhibit: Michigan Nature
One of the top exhibits within the Hands-On Museum is the wonderfully-detailed Michigan Nature exhibit, which features many natural and curiosity-invoking displays of the rugged outdoors that is all around us here in the Metro Detroit area. Known as a "Pure Michigan experience," it includes a working soundscape, an interactive nature wall with detailed information on much of the natural world and native lake fish and geology samples. Children are encouraged to handle the safe objects, as is the rule for much of the museum.

Top Exhibit: World Around You

The "World Around You" exhibit is a favorite among the scientifically-curious children who visit the museum because of the exhibit's ability to allow young patrons to explore some of the most puzzling aspects of the natural world that surrounds us, but with a helpful dose of scientific knowledge. Among the many areas within this exhibit are the Bubble Capsule, the Climbing Wall and Magnet sections, including many more; all of which will spark your children's imagination in the World Around You gallery.

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Best Place To Eat Nearby: Pizza House of Ann Arbor
618 Church St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 995-5095

What could possibly be better to a child after a long day of playing and exploring the natural realms of our world and culture inside of the state's best children's museum than a giant meal of the city's best pizza!? Pizza House of Ann Arbor offers some of the city's best and most highly-coveted deep-dish pizza with a Chicago-style twist just down the street from the Hands-On Museum. For decades, Pizza House has been satisfying even the most discerning of Ann Arbor's pizza taste buds, namely college students, and has grown a reputation as being the best at pizza making. With ample seating and a family-friendly atmosphere, there's no better way to end your museum adventure than with a few slices at Pizza House.

Upcoming Events

The spring and warm weather months have some of the best events to offer at the Hands-On Museum, including Professor Ray's Everyday Science "classes," which will run well into the summer and fall months, as well. Professor Ray taught all different levels of science to school children for 27 years. After retiring, Ray worked for six years at the Center for Science and Industry (COSI Toledo) in the Science Cafe as a science instructor and programs assistant. Now, Professor Ray engages in exciting demonstrations and hands-on learning within the museum, with each "class" offering a different theme within the field of science.

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Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at

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