Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend trip to Detroit!

We had a couple of days off of school due to Teacher Improvement Day in Chicago, so we used our time wisely and visited some friends who live outside of Detroit.  It was a great weekend, and chockful of eating great food and going to museums.

First things first:  We took the train up there.  For all three of us, it was around $160 roundtrip, which I estimate is about what it would of cost us in gas and wear and tear on the car.  And we didn't have to drive, and it took about the same amount of time.  Plus:  TRAIN!

While we were in the Detroit metro area (weirdly, I don't think we ever were in downtown Detroit) we visited 3 pretty great museums.

Shalom Street.  There are 3 Jewish children's museums in the US.  There's one in Brooklyn, there's one in L.A., and there's one in... suburban Detroit?  The JCC of Detroit has a huge campus in West Bloomfield, and they have used their acreage well.  Their giant JCC has a space dedicated to children's exhibits.  Each year, Shalom Street comes up with an interactive themed exhibit on some aspect of the Jewish experience.  This year the them was Jewish toy inventors.  And since that encompasses Fisher Price, Hasbro, Parker Brothers, Mattel, and just about everyone else in the toy industry, it was a great exhibit, and well worth checking out if you are in the area.

The JCC also has a Jewish Michigan Athlete's Hall of Fame (a very small exhibit as you might imagine) and pools and gyms and in the back there's an adventure course for teens to do during the summer.  If you are Jewish in the Detroit area, it seems like this is a resource you don't want to ignore.

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum:
We then went to an arcade/museum of magic and amusement memorabilia, which featured pinball machines, tic tac toe playing chickens, magic memorabilia, a weather forecasting rock, and a number of crazy oddities.  It was exactly up my alley, and we spent an hour or so (and over $20) playing games, checking out coin operated wonders of the past, and having a ball.
The video above is on Marvin's site.

You can also see some more of the photos I took on flickr  

Henry Ford Museum  The last museum we went to (and spent nearly the whole day, and didn't see it all) was the Henry Ford Museum.  It's a fantastic museum, filled with the history of America via transportation.  It had some amazing exhibits, including the series of Presidential Limousines, the actual 1952 Wienermobile, a history of early aviation, and an interactive exhibit where, EVERYDAY, museum goers help build a Model T Ford, and at th end of the day, they can sit in it.  (The docents assured me that it also runs, although I didn't see that)  That was simply amazing.

Another fantastic exhibit is Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion house.  A one of a kind prototype that never got made, it's a round house made entirely of surplus aviation aluminum.  Only one was ever produced, and the guy lived in it for 20 years before donating it back to the museum, where they painstakingly restored it.  It's completely ahead of its time, and also fairly flawed.  It's still fantastic and amazing to walk around inside this house.

Perhaps my favorite exhibit, though, was Rosa Parks bus.  They have the actual bus that Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of, and they've completely restored it.  They also have a tape of Rosa Parks talking about that day.  Listening to it in her bus literally gave me chills.  History being made right there.

All in all, it was a great time in suburban Detroit!

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