2013: The Year of the Museum

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By most accounts, the world is not going to end in the year ahead. It will, however, get a little hotter, noisier, costlier and more crowded. If only there were a climate-controlled, quiet, free or cheap place with just the right number of people to share the space without encumbering each other’s movement or view. If only.

This year, forget those fad graham-cracker diets and resolutions to not text while you bathe. Put museums on the top of the list of things to do that you actually intend to do and then actually do them. The DIA says, let yourself go. I say, just go already.

Don’t not go.

That’s the funny thing about museums, if you don’t go to them, you will never get to them. My cousin lived in Florence for five months and never went to the Uffizi Gallery, a cardinal sin he’d kept under wraps until I spilled the Italian beans at a big family dinner. I’m sure if he’d been visiting for just a week, he would have made sure to check out The Birth of Venus, even if Botticelli didn’t ascend to Ninja Turtledom the way his fellow artists there did.

Fuggetaboutitaly! In Detroit, we have fantastico, stupendo cultural resources at our disposal, which makes them all too disposable. Here are just a few familiar places, many of which have new faces but haven’t had traces of your paces since that field trip when you threw up in the back of the bus:

DIA. The single coolest experience I’ve ever had in Detroit was going to the DIA at 1 a.m. when it reopened Thanksgiving 2007. I don’t recommend going in the middle of the night anymore; they have pretty extensive security. But it stays open, replete with live music, until 10 p.m. on Fridays, which feels like 1 a.m. to me these days. See invaluable art work and your valuable tax dollars at work with “free unlimited general museum admission” for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties — even, it turns out, the Philistines who voted against the millage.

Detroit Historical Museum. I have taken three groups to the Historical Museum since it reopened over Thanksgiving — teens from Israel, tweens from southwest Detroit, toddlers from my house — all of whom were touched by the magic of Detroit’s past and were touched by the potential for its future. The cobblestone of Olde Detroit downstairs never had luster to lose, and the new exhibits are worth much more than the price of admission, which is $0.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum. I’m man enough to admit that I’ve never been, but I’ll be on Belle Isle when the Dossin reopens, renovated, in the spring to “steer a long-ship down the Detroit River” with my heavy foot and pay my Lightfoot respects at the bow anchor of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Michigan Science Center. The rebooting of the Science Center (“New name, same great astronaut ice cream!”) is enough to make your hair stand up without even touching that orb that makes your hair stand up. Don’t worry if you missed “Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion” when it was there a few years ago. The skinless, sinewy figures are back, and they haven’t aged a bit.

The Henry Ford. The best way to experience The Henry Ford is at a Jewish wedding.

None of which should rule out the the Wright Museum, zoo, Mocad, Cranbrook, Riverwalk or your
shhhhwonderful local library. Remember how excited you were when you got your library card in the fourth grade and borrowed The BFG? They are still waiting for you to return it.

So much of our public conversation is about costs, liabilities, scarcity — and understandably so — but we are missing out almost daily (sorry, Mondays) on enviable benefits, assets and abundance.

So go already.

 

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