The University of Michigan is a cultural treasure – for its rich history in collegiate sports, for its contributions to scientific research, and its commitment to world-class performing and visual arts. Impressive museums such as the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), record-breaking sports facilities like The Big House, and stunning venues like Hill Auditorium are well-known to many visitors to the Ann Arbor area. However, there are many other ‘’hidden gems’’ at the University – smaller performance venues like the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater and Arthur Miller Theater, lesser-known sporting complexes like Elbel Field, and a host of smaller museums that are sure to delight seasoned historians and casual visitors alike. Three of these unique museums are the Bentley Historical Library, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry.
The Bentley Historical Library is a treasure trove for visitors interested in the history of the state of Michigan or the history of the University of Michigan. Books, maps, architectural drawings, photographs, athletic records, and much more is available for viewing by professional or amateur researchers. Staff is on-site to help you connect with the collections in a meaningful way, and the Library is located in beautiful North Campus. Less than two miles away sits the fascinating Detroit Observatory, which is a division of the Bentley Historical Library, and houses an incredible telescope and exhibits.
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is located on South State Street, and exhibits over 100,000 ancient and medieval objects. Here, you’ll find magical amulets from the Near East, Greek pottery, Roman sculptures, and even an Egyptian mummy coffin. Special exhibits are often housed at the Kelsey Museum as well, with the next one coming in late August and featuring the theme of imperfection in ancient objects and diverse cultures.
At the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, curators are dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the history of dentistry – and this is one of only a handful of museums in the world with this mission! With over 15,000 objects spanning from 1th 18th century to today, and a new exhibit focusing on progress in dental hygiene, this is a one-of-a-kind museum and a hidden gem at the University of Michigan, located in the heart of beautiful Ann Arbor.
While you’re visiting the historical gems of Ann Arbor’s museum offerings, be sure to check out some other historic attractions as well! The Michigan Theater is a great spot to catch a film, and the Pretzel Bell is a new reincarnation of a classic Ann Arbor restaurant. Just outside Ann Arbor, the Ypsi Alehouse is located in nearby Ypsilanti and is housed in a fascinating historic building (and serves delicious beer). If you’re headed west of Ann Arbor, check out Zou Zou’s Café, located in the historic Glazier Bank Drug Store building built in 1870 (now serving tasty baked goods!).