On first read, The Michigan State University Museum might seem as if it’s a testament to all things Spartan. Instead, the land-grant university’s museum is a look at all things Michigan, from the natural to the historical to the anthropological.
Here are five things to know about the MSU Museum.
1. Opened in 1857, the museum is one of the oldest in the Midwest and has close to a million items in its various collections. We’re also pretty sure it’s the only museum with a dinosaur-themed 5K run and an annual chocolate party.
2. The current exhibitions at the MSU Museum put a distinct emphasis on the visual: photography of subway cars used as underwater reefs, R.F. Deckert’s nature illustrations and World War I propaganda posters. The museum also has seven long-term exhibitions and online exhibitions.
3. In 2001, the MSU Museum was the first to be named a Smithsonian affiliate museum. This affiliation allows MSU to borrow and display items from the Smithsonian’s nine museum buildings. The two institutions also teamed up on a guide to the birds of South Asia and the Smithsonian’s annual Folklife Festival in D.C. MSU’s work on the Folklife Festival began back in 1987. An archival program book from that year can be found here.
4. If you have an afternoon to kill, but not the means to get to East Lansing, the MSU’s cultural collections are online and searchable. The Browse Collection tab is a quick way to navigate to some of MSU’s unique collections like Great Lakes ice fishing decoys, Hmong textiles and Michigan cedar fans.
5. The MSU Museum is one of four museums that are a part of the MSU campus, including the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Great Lakes Quilt Center (the MSU Museum has 300 quilts itself) and the Department of Entomology’s Bug House.
For more information about the Michigan State Museum, click the links above.