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The Michigan History Museum: Take a Walk Through Time & Connect with the Present

The Michigan History Museum

Make the Michigan History Museum Your Next Adventure

After about a 25-year gap since visiting the beautiful downtown Lansing building, it has become one of my go-to spots in Lansing now that I am a parent.

Some of the Michigan History Museum is exactly as I remember it from my childhood, but there are plenty of new additions including rotating exhibits. Many of the exhibits are geared toward children, making it an ideal destination for family fun.

This five-story building tells us the history of Michigan starting with the very earliest people and goes all the way through the middle of the 20th century.

Most exhibits are hands-on and allow kids to actively participate while they learn.

I can say without hesitation – a great day of fun awaits you at the Michigan History Center in Lansing!

Reasons Families Love the Michigan History Museum

The big tree growing in the middle of the History Center grounds is reason enough to love this downtown gem but there’s more.

Free Admission on Sundays

Level up your weekend with a visit to the Michigan History Museum on Sundays when admission is free for all. Free admission and free weekend parking make this trip both inexpensive and worthwhile.

The Big Pine

The big tree growing in the middle of the History Center grounds is reason enough to love this downtown gem but there’s more.

One of my kids’ favorite things to do at the Michigan History Museum is run around the corridor outside by the big pine tree. You’ll find access to this area on level 2.

Michigan-History-Center-Giveaway-Feature Kids looking at Carl the tree
Kids looking at Carl the Big Pine Tree at the Michigan History Center

One-Way Exhibit Path

This beautiful and informative museum is set up in a way where you can move along like a river flowing through each floor.

There is only one way in and one way out on each exhibit floor, with elevator access near in the middle.

This makes trips to the museum with toddlers doable and fun – especially if your little sweetie is a runner like my youngest. It also ensures you get to see every inch of the museum and not miss a thing!

The Copper Mining exhibit

Interactive Exhibits

Most of the exhibits in the Michigan History Museum are made for kids and adults to interact and participate in a hands-on way.

Some of these exhibits include:
– furs from Native American history
– a tunnel to walk through, feeling the depth of a mine 
– a miniature lumber wheel to pull under the life-sized wheel
– a dinner bell to ring
– an old schoolroom for pretending

These, among others, are great ways for kids and families to tangibly learn and bond together.

Michigan Historic Center Museum Mine Tunnel Play Museum Downtown Lansing
Boy looking at the Copper Mining exhibit

All Ages Learn and Play

Honestly, I like to explore just as much as my kids do.

The trifecta of adventures is when they are getting energy out, they are learning, and I’m also learning and having fun too.

The Michigan History Museum is perfect for this.

Michigan Historic Center Kids Room Play Museum Downtown Lansing
Kids’ playroom

Rotating Exhibits

The Michigan History Museum has some staple exhibits that have not changed in over 30 years.

The first floor exhibit area, however, rotates throughout the year. Find out what’s happening now and what is to come.

Girl painting a rock

River Trail Access

A perfect afternoon in our household could consist of a trip to the Michigan History Museum, walking across the parking lot to the path between the Justice Building and the Michigan State Capitol, and following Michigan Ave to the Lansing River Trail.

From that point, the options are many for a great day in downtown Lansing.

Michigan Historic Center Outdoor Tree Play Museum Downtown Lansing
Overlooking Carl the Big Pine Tree

Special Events

The Michigan History Museum’s special events are just that – special, from arts and crafts to riding in a vintage Model T.

Most of these events are free of charge or a nominal fee and are jam-packed with fun children’s activities.

Model T Rides Car Historic Center Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
Model T Car

Easy Parking

Visitor parking is located south of the building with a $5 daily rate on weekdays. Payment can be made using the automated parking system (credit card only – Visa, Mastercard, or Discover). Weekend parking is FREE.  Visitors should use the Kalamazoo Street entrance, turning onto the circle drive to enter the visitor parking lot.

Additional public parking is available north of the building across Allegan Street (east of the Hall of Justice and Vietnam Memorial). However, the north entrance of the Michigan Library and Historical Center building is not accessible to people who cannot use stairs.

Designated accessible parking is available at the barrier-free south entrance of the building.

Tips for a Great Visit to the Michigan History Museum

If you’re a tip girl like I am, this is most likely the most important portion of this article.

Snacks and Hydration

Eat before you come and bring snacks. This place is massive, so if your goal is to make it through the entire building, you’ll want to hydrate and make sure your and your kids’ blood sugar doesn’t fall to “hangry” mode.

All jokes aside, making sure nobody is hungry or thirsty really helps so you don’t find yourself stuck on an upper floor with unhappy kids. If you forget, don’t worry – they is a snack area located in the front entrance across from the gift shop.

Go with the Flow

It has been beneficial to let the kids guide us to what they are most interested in during our day’s visit. This ends up being key because the stations they miss on one trip become a great “new” experience on their next trip to the Michigan History Museum.

The fun is never-ending when the kids pick and choose what they’d like to learn about each time. Or, in my kids’ case, revisit the places they love so much.

Michigan Historic Center Big Lumber Wheel Play Museum Downtown Lansing
Big Lumber Wheel Play exhibit


You’ll find there are helpful volunteers along the way that will engage with the kids and explain exhibits.

If you’ve never stopped to let them tell you information, I encourage you to try it. The information and history they share are always insightful and fascinating.

Engaging with the volunteers ends up making our trips extra special.

Go with a Friend

If you’ve read any of my other guides, you’ll know that bringing along a buddy is a staple tip of mine. Adventures are better in a group most times.

Kids putting together pieces of a pot

Plan Your Visit

Michigan History Museum
702 W. Kalamazoo St. Lansing, MI 48915
(517) 335-2573

Now that you know all of the great reasons to visit the History Museum in downtown Lansing, here are some things you’ll want to know before you go.

Museum Hours

Monday: Closed (September 6 – June 18, the museum will be open 10 AM – 4 PM)

Tuesday – Saturday: 10 AM – 4 PM

Sunday: 1 – 5 PM


Adults: $8

Seniors (65+): $6

Youth (ages 6-17): $4

Children (ages 5 and under): FREE

*Free admission to all on Sundays

**Prices valid as of 02/28/24

Archives Hours

Monday – Friday: 1 – 5 PM

Saturday: 10 AM – 4 PM

Sunday: Closed

The Archives of Michigan is closed on official state holidays and other days throughout the year. Call (517) 335-2573 to confirm dates.

Michigan Historic Center Museum Parking Lot Sculpture Play Museum Downtown Lansing
Outdoor sculpture at the Michigan History Museum

Field Trips & Group Tours

  • Lower rates are available to groups heading to the museum. Learning experiences are available as well.
  • Field trips/groups visits are welcome Monday – Thursday with a minimum of 10 people.
  • Groups must pre-register. Dates available up to one year in advance.
  • Self-guided tours are $4 per student. Guided tours are $7 per student. Maps are available online.
  • Click here for more details on groups and field trips at the Michigan History Museum.

Become a Member of the Michigan History Center

For all of the benefits that come along with it, of course!

Our family loves to travel, so a big reason for us to become a member is the traveler’s benefits. Which of these benefits would it be for you?


  • Annual pass (one or two based on single or family level) plus two single-use guest passes
  • 10% discount in Michigan History Museum stores and at
  • Quarterly e-newsletter
  • Time Travelers benefits

Visit their membership page to find out their membership levels, benefits, and how to sign up.

Boy sitting on a wall outside the Michigan History Museum

Enjoy making memories on your visit to the Michigan History Museum while you explore Michigan’s history with interesting exhibits the whole family will love.

Carla Brooks

Carla is Oregon born, Michigan raised, so it comes as no surprise she's an avid adventurer in all things nature and water fun. She's passionate about storytelling and the power it has to engage the community, give voice to the teller, and invoke a call to action. She is a proud Mexican-American woman who loves to travel (while eating and cooking delicious foods from around the globe), is grateful for her daily yoga practice, and garners much joy from spending time with friends and family. Life is ripe with story and she is always working to capture the magic wherever she goes, so don’t be surprised if you catch her jotting notes with a camera in hand.

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