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I'm Terri and I love to travel with my kids. We have a goal of visiting all 50 states. Learn more...
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Michigan – Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, isn’t just a place to learn about history; it’s a place to be inspired by history. Kid friendly? Not only is it appropriate for kids, it was designed with kids in mind. When it first opened in 1929, only schoolchildren could visit. Four years later it opened to the general public. Henry Ford was passionate about teaching kids about the past and present so that they could take the present to the future. The museum holds a wide range of diverse historic artifacts, but all are tied together by an overall theme of innovation. My youngest daughter noted that the diversity of exhibits means there’s something for everyone. The museum is HUGE; a walk around the perimeter is half a mile long. Artifacts are organized into about a dozen different sections. The first one that we encountered was about agriculture. The signature exhibit there is certain to appeal to kids: the Wienermobile.

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Henry Ford Museum

Next to the Wienermobile is a fun photo-op where you can sandwich yourself inside a hot dog. How’s that for an introduction to American culture for our foreign exchange student?

Human hot dog at Henry Ford Museum

You can explore exhibits of antique tractors and other agricultural equipment and even climb aboard a combine.

Tractors at Henry Ford Museum

Climb aboard a combine - Henry Ford Museum

One of the kid-friendly features of the museum are Rubbing Stations scattered throughout. Kids can place a piece of paper over a metal picture and rub a crayon over it to make an impression.

Crayon rubbing station at Henry Ford Museum

The Fully Furnished section of the museum has everything from doll houses to traditional furniture owned by famous people to funky modern furniture.

Doll houses at Henry Ford Museum

Furniture at Henry Ford Museum

Funky furniture at Henry Ford Museum

And if you like the modern furniture, make sure you head back to the futuristic Dymaxion House. In the 1920’s it was designed as the house of the future.

Dymaxion House

Your Place in Time explores generational differences in 20th century America, including technology. This would be a fun exhibit to visit with multiple generations of family members.

20th century music - Henry Ford Museum

Made in America showcases innovations in power and manufacturing.

Made in America - Henry Ford Museum

One of our favorite sections was With Liberty and Justice for All. It amazes me that you can actually go sit on the bus that Rosa Parks rode in 1955. It’s an amazing place to talk to kids about the extraordinary things that people with firm convictions can accomplish.

Rosa Parks Bus - Henry Ford Museum

Inside the Rosa Parks bus - Henry Ford Museum

Don’t miss the chair in which President Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated in 1865 at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Chair - Henry Ford Museum

Heroes of the Sky had several interesting exhibits from the Wright Flyer to Henry Ford’s airplane (yes, airplane!). You’ll see several different flying machines and have the opportunity to make and fly your own paper airplane.

Early flight exhibits - Henry Ford Museum

Of course you would expect a museum named after Henry Ford to have plenty of automobiles on exhibit and you won’t be disappointed. See Ford’s most famous invention, the Model T, along with his earlier Quadricycle. Build a Model T, work on an assembly line, and design and test a K’Nex car. Don’t miss the movie in the theatre that will get you thinking about just how much society changed as a result of the mass production of cars.

Auto exhibits - Henry Ford Museum

In the Railroads section, you’ll see one of the largest steam locomotives every built along with several other railroad cars.

Railroads - Henry Ford Museum

I love that there isn’t just a single kids’ area. They are spread out among the exhibits all over the museum.

Kids area - railroads - Henry Ford Museum

Another thing you’ll find all over are the Mold-A-Rama Souvenir machines. Insert $2 and make your own souvenir using plastic injection molding.

Injection-molded souvenirs at Henry Ford Museum

If that isn’t enough, there are exhibits about Jewelry and Clocks. We learned that in the 1700’s very few people had clocks in their houses. It wasn’t until they were mass produced that clock ownership became widespread. It makes sense, but I’d never really thought about it before. That’s an example of just one of the ways that the Henry Ford Museum inspires kids (and adults) to think about future innovations.

There are a few other attractions to see in addition to the Henry Ford Museum: Greenfield Village, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, and an IMAX Theatre. It took us all day just to explore the Henry Ford Museum, so if you want to see more than one exhibit, I’d recommend allotting two or more days for your trip. I look forward to going back another time in order to visit Greenfield Village. The museum offered two cafes and a diner as well as a nice gift shop.
Ready to visit?

 

Henry Ford Museum
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124-5029
(313) 982-6001

Open 7 days a week, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: $18 Adults, $13.50 Children (5-12), 4 & under free

 

Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to this museum so that I could research and write this article. Many thanks to the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Henry Ford for arranging our visit.

This attraction appears in my e-book, How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips.

 

You might also be interested in

Hagley Museum (Delaware)

Fayette Historic State Park (Michigan)

The Historic Railpark & Train Museum (Kentucky)

 

 

3 comments to Michigan – Henry Ford Museum

  • We live close enough to The Henry Ford that we have memberships and visit multiple times each year. You’re spot on in advising folks to allot at least two days to tour the place. Greenfield Village is one of our favorite places to go out for a walk and picture-taking session. The Eagle Tavern in the Village is also a great place to try for a meal. I’ve written a ton of stores about the Village and the Museum and often find something brand new to write about :)

    • Terri Weeks

      Thanks for the tips, Dominique, and for affirming that I made the right decision not to try to cram it all into one day. I’ll be sure to check out the Eagle Tavern when I go back. Lucky you that you live so close!