The Henry Ford Museum

27 04 2009
  • 20900 Oakwood Blvd.
  • Dearborn, MI 48124
  • (313) 982-6001
  • Website
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan

I’m weird when it comes to museum’s.  I don’t know why, but I like them.  When my eighth grade class took a class trip to Washington DC, I was really mad we didn’t go to the history museum at the Smithsonian.  The only place we went was the Air and Space Museum which was great, but not my thing.

My parents came to town and we needed something to do.  Like I explained in an earlier post, our plan was to go to Canada to gamble, but they forgot theirbirth certificates.  As we were walking through Target Saturday night, I asked J what the heck we were going to do to entertain them the next day.  She mentioned the RE Olds Museum in Lansing and that eventually led to The Henry Ford in Dearborn.   I still want to take my dad to the Olds Museum, but that’s something we can do another time. 

The Henry Ford is a huge complex in Dearborn that consist of a museum, IMAX theater, the Rouge factory tour and the 90 acre Greenfield Village.  That’s just the attractions open to the public.  There is also a research center, the Ford convention center and probably more things I don’t know about.  The complex is located on Oakwood Boulevard just a mile or so off Southfield Freeway.

We entered the complex off Oakwood Boulevard.  At first, the whole thing is a little confusing.  It looks like a college campus and it’s not really marked all that well.  We knew we were looking to go to the museum and we never saw a sign or anything that really showed where it was.  We spotted the IMAX and the Greenfield Village.  I figured we could just park and start walking around.  It had to be in between the two. 

The entrance to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

The entrance to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

It was a pretty nice day so there were a lot of people checking out the Thomas The Tank Engine exhibit at Greenfield Village.  We passed that area and kept following the sidewalk.  We eventually made it to the middle of the building that I already said looks more like a college campus than a museum.  There’s a very plain looking door with a sign out front in the grass that marked the museum.  There was no flash or anything that really said “This is America’s Greatest History Attraction.”  It was just a door to an old building. 

When we got inside, I walked too far.  I saw the sign for tickets, but it didn’t say anything about the museum.  The sign only mentioned the IMAX and the Rouge Factory tour.  J and my mom thought it was right, so they yelled at me to stop.  I tried to plead my case, but I was wrong anyway, so I eventually just shut up.

A 60s Americana display at the Henry Ford Musuem

A 60's Americana display at the Henry Ford Musuem

It cost us $60 for four adults.  My mom paid for all four tickets then we headed to the entrance of the exhibit where our tickets were ripped before we headed in.  I was a little worried that I was wasting my parents money.  My dad thought it was going to be a history of the Ford Motor Company and when I kept explaining it was a history museum, not necessarily a Ford museum, he was a little bummed.  I had no idea how my mom would react, so I was relieved when we made it to the exhibit floor.

The space is huge.  Actually, huge is an understatement.  The old building is one giant room with a lot of exhibits.  Even though it is a history museum, there is a pretty strong transportation theme.  The first thing we spotted was a row of limousines which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be Presidential limos.  They even had the limo JFK was assassinated in. 

There were a lot of cars which I know made my dad happy.  They had one exhibit that was basically the development of the automobile over the last 100 years starting with the bicycle.  There were also 100’s of examples of cars going all the way back to the steam car days.  We spent a good majority of our time in one small corner of the museum where the trains, planes, and automobiles were.  Looking at how things have changed in 100 years was awesome. 

Early Fast Food signs at the Henry Ford Museum

Early Fast Food signs at the Henry Ford Museum

Besides all the cool cars, the exhibit had the evolution of the motorcycle, the camper, and even the motel.  There was an early example of a Harley Davidson motorcycle which J snapped a picture of and sent to her mom (they’re big Harley people).  There’s also displays for the drive-in movie theater, an old McDonald’s sign, an original White Castle sign, an early gas station, and probably one of the coolest things we found, an actual letter that Clyde Barrow sent to Henry Ford telling him how great his cars were as getaway cars.

After spending an hour and a half or so in the automotive wing, we moved on to the rest of the museum.  There was a cool exhibit about the 20th century that brought back memories for all four of us.  There was a antique furniture exhibit in which my mom spotted a piece of furniture that she has in her living room.  There was an agriculture exhibit and an energy exhibit which was impressive, but not that interesting.

Gas station display at The Henry Ford in Dearborn.

Gas station display at The Henry Ford in Dearborn.

Right before we left, we found the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile which is right next to the WeinermobileCafe.  That was one of two dining options.  The other is the Michigan Cafe.  We didn’t check out either.  We hit up the gift shop, but again, didn’t buy anything.  I did however get one of those pressed penny things with a picture of the Weinermobile. 

The Henry Ford turned out to be a really great day out.  I can’t imagine bringing a family with small children to the museum part of it, but it was a good outing for a group of older people.  It’s not a cheap day.  Had the Rouge factory tour been going, I know my dad would have liked to see that, but that was another $15 per person.  It would have cost us $120 to do both.  The Greenfield Village would have cost us $22 per person.  Sure it’s going to be a little bit cheaper with kids, but those kids are going to want drinks and snacks, so it’s going to be an expensive day no matter what.  I would definitelysay this is a once a year thing and something you should see at least once.  It was a great experience and my parents were happy with is, so I feel much better about spending the money.  There was so much we didn’t get to see.  You could literally spend days trying to see all the great historical artifacts that are housed at The Henry Ford.

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4 responses

28 04 2009
Dominique

The expense of a day there is the best argument for buying memberships in our case (about $50/yr/individual membership that allows unlimited visits to museum and village each year), and we live about 1/2 away from The Henry Ford. We like taking our cameras out to the museum or the Village, and sometimes just want to stay an hour. One of us used to work in Dearborn and sometimes would visit the museum for lunch or a walk on his lunch hour. We also can just come on back another day if the crowds/weather/whatever aren’t cooperating with us on a particular visit.
Glad y’all had a great time during your visit.

28 04 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

If we lived closer, that would be a great idea. I know my dad was really interested in the Rouge tour and it would have been hard to justify spending another $60 for the four of us. After reading a little more about Greenfield Village, I would really like to see that a well.

J and I got talking last night about other museums and we realized the $15 probably isn’t as bad as it seems. Field Museum in Chicago is $23 per person over the age of 11. The Museum of Science & Industry, also in Chicago is only $13, but you have to pay extra for special exhibits.

I know we enjoyed The Henry Ford more than I ever did the Field Museum…don’t know about Science and Industry…I haven’t been there in 20 years and the way I remember it, I really liked it, but it was so long ago.

I’m interested in seeing more at The Henry Ford….I’m hoping we’ll find a time to go back

28 04 2009
T-Money

After reading this site for some time I know your love for the burger, Dearborn has two of the best places in Metro Detroit for burgers. Millers and Howell’s. I would say try Howell’s, they have hand cut fries and the burger is thick, juicy and very tasty. As well Dearborn has the best Lebanese restaurants, New Yasmin & Amani.

28 04 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

I really want to go to Miller’s. I’m not sure J would like it too much…or my mom so I didn’t bring it up.

Maybe I’ll be out that way one day for work and I’ll stop for a beer and a burger…hopefully

Peoria (where I lived before I moved here) had a huge Lebanese population. I tried to like the food when I lived there and I just couldn’t do it….I really wanted to…it just wasn’t my thing.

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