Make it a Detroit Weekend – Public Art!

This year, the MHPN conference, “Resolve, Revolve, Evolve,” is being held on the campus of Wayne State University, Detroit. The conference itself is scheduled from May 12-14, so this is the perfect opportunity to “Make it a Detroit Weekend”!  To help you plan your visit, we are pleased to provide you with a series of informative blogs about the “must see” places and things to do while in the city.

The Fist (Woodward Avenue at Jefferson Avenue) – Robert Graham sculpted this memorial to boxer Joe Louis in 1986. The 24 foot long arm is suspended 24 feet above the ground inside a bronze pyramid. The fist weighs approximately 8,000 pounds.

Spirit of Detroit (Woodward Avenue at Jefferson Avenue) – This bronze statue was dedicated in 1958 and commissioned by Marshall Fredericks, and was the largest cast bronze statue since the Renaissance at the time it as built. The plaque at the front of the statue reads “The artist expresses the concept that God through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship.” The statue is often seen in different sports team’s jerseys during playoffs.

Heidelberg Project – Founded by Tyree Guyton in 1986, this Detroit based community organization uses art to improve neighborhoods and lives. Currently celebrating 30 years, this public exhibit uses everyday discarded items to bring color, symbolism and intrigue to two full blocks on Detroit’s East Side.


Heidelberg Project, 3600 Heidelberg Street

The Dodge Fountain – This memorial fountain is located at the center of Hart Plaza in Detroit, also in the same plaza as the Plyon Sculpture (Isamu Noguchi). The final design of the Dodge Fountain was created by Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls, with the additional help of Isamu Noguchi.

Eastern Market Murals (in and around Eastern Market, bounded by Gratiot Avenue, Mack Avenue, St. Aubin Street, and I-75) – A public program called Murals in the Market and partnership with 1xRUN and Inner State Fine Art Gallery allows artists and businesses to showcase their skills at Eastern Market. In the past 4 years this program has allowed the production of over 30 murals in Eastern Market and over 100 murals throughout Detroit.

Hamtramck Disneyland – Starting in 1992 and finishing in 1999, Hamtramck Disneyland is the creation of Ukraine born Dmytro Szylak. The creation was built on a 30 foot backyard on two adjacent garages. Dmytro was a GM retiree of 32 years, looking for a hobby to express his artistic drive. The construction contains items such as American flags, statues and figurines, and Christmas lights.

Hamtramck Disneyland

Hamtramck Disneyland, 12087 Klinger St, Hamtramck

Library Street Collective (1260 Library Street) – A collection of modern and contemporary art, this Collective focuses on artists who have developed their skills through demonstrating art in public spaces. Artists include Shepard Fairey , Augustine Kofie, Vhils and Cleon Peterson.  Be sure to check out the “belt” in the back, an alley displaying murals and sculptures.

Z Deck (1234 Library St) – Adjacent to the Library Street Collective, the Z Deck features different large-scale murals on each floor.  The Z Deck was a collaborative project between Bedrock Detroit and Library Street Collective. There are 27 different artists featured in this parking garage.


Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) (5200 Woodward Avenue) – Founded in 1855 and moved to Woodward in 1927, this Beaux Arts style building houses over 100 galleries boasting a rank as among the top six collections in the United States. Diego Rivera’s twenty seven panel works, created as “a tribute to the city’s manufacturing base and labor force of the 1930’s” completed at an enormous scale is considered one of the artist’s best works and can only be seen here.

Arab American National Museum (13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn) – This museum is the first and only museum completely devoted to Arab American History and Culture. The museum opened in 2005, and has four permanent galleries including a Community Courtyard displaying “Arab Civilization: Our Heritage”. The museum also has three rotating exhibits including “An Enduring Legacy”, the story of a young entertainer and visionary of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 East Warren Avenue)This museum is the world’s largest museum dedicated to African American experiences. Founded in 1965, Dr Wright partnered with 33 established and racially integrated members of society to open this museum, formerly known as the first International Afro-American Museum. In 1998 the museum was renamed after Charles Wright, a year after opening in a new state of the art facility. Current exhibits include “No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting”, and “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture”

Cranbrook Art Museum (39221 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills) – Cranbrook was founded in 1927 by George and Ellen Booth as a way to display personal collections of art, architecture and design. Avoiding the term “museum” Cranbrook wanted to be a counterpart of the DIA serving students as a center for learning and contemporary art. Current Exhibitions range from “Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery”, “Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings 790A and 790B: Irregular Alternating Color Bands” and the famous Saarinen House; the home and studio of Eliel and Loja Saarinen.


McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery.       Photographers: Tim Thayer and R. H. Hensleigh

Cranbrook Institute of Science (39221 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills)Also founded by George and Ellen Booth, the Cranbrook Institute of Science offers activities ranging from planetarium shows, observatory viewing, and Michigan native plants in the Science Garden. Lectures are also provided.

Detroit Historical Museum (5401 Woodward Avenue)– Visit exhibits like the “Documenting Detroit: Architecture” collection, “Meiers Wonderful Clock”, and the “Dossin Great Lakes Museum”.  A handful of the museums signature exhibitions recently received upgrades, including the favorite “Streets of Old Detroit, America’s Motor City and Frontiers to Factories: Detroiters at Work, 1701-1901.”

Detroit Historical Museum exterior May 2013 (1)

Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Avenue

Dossin Great Lakes Museum (100 Strand Drive, Belle Isle)Another museum of the Detroit Historical Society, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is located on Strand Drive, Belle Isle.  This museum is a great place to go to learn about Detroit’s role in maritime history, and the role that the Great Lakes and Detroit River contributed to industrial and social history.

Michigan Science Center (5020 John R Street) This museum has over 250 hands on exhibits, lab activities, and special exhibits.  Ongoing galleries include Engineering, Health and Wellness, Kids Town, Motion and Space. The museum also has a 4D theater, planetarium, and an IMAX dome.

Motown Historical Museum (2648 W Grand Boulevard) Founded by Esther Gordy Edwards in 1985, the Motown museums goal is to increase youth awareness and “promote the values of vision creativity and entrepreneurship” through the exhibitions showcasing the impact of Motown and the artistic contributions to entertainment. Visit Studio A, Berry Gordy’s Flat, and a gallery of Motown memorabilia.



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