University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

#2 in Best Things To Do in Ann Arbor
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Courtesy of University of Michigan Museum of Natural History/Michelle Andonian

Key Info

1105 N University Ave

Price & Hours

Free
Mon-Wed, Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m. | Thu 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Details

Museums, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The Museum of Natural History was founded in 1956, though the university began collecting and storing artifacts and specimens as early as 1837. Then called the Exhibit Museum, it was officially renamed the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in 2011, and in 2019 it moved into a brand-new facility on campus.

Popular exhibits include "Dynamic Space," "On the Trail of the Mastodons" (where male and female mastodon skeletons stand side by side), and "Under the Microscope," which explores life at the cellular level. There is also an on-site planetarium. Visitors to the museum were impressed by the detailed exhibits and huge amount of information in the new facility. They extolled the nicely designed space and said their children loved the hands-on activities dispersed throughout.

The Museum of Natural History is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day but Thursday, when it is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is closed on major holidays, and admission is free of charge. Visitors are advised to park in the nearby Palmer Visitor Parking Structure, which costs $1.90 per hour and contains 180 visitor spots. This lot is also within walking distance of the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, the University of Michigan Museum of Art and more. For more information, visit the museum's website.

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#1 University of Michigan

As the crown jewel of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan boasts many of the city's top attractions. Start your visit by touring the manicured grounds of the campus, which was opened in Ann Arbor in 1837 (though the school got its start in Detroit in 1817). U-M has a total enrollment of about 48,000 students and stretches across a massive 3,207 acres. You'll find University of Michigan properties dispersed throughout Ann Arbor, though the main campus is centrally located within the city near parks, museums, bars and dining establishments.

When it comes to things to do on campus, you won't be left scratching your head. The university is home to 30 stunning libraries and more than 16 museums, including the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Art, the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, the Herbarium and the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry. Other points of interest include the William W. Cook Law Quadrangle (a 10-acre compound comprising pristine green space and impressive gothic-style buildings), the Gerald R. Ford Library and Hill Auditorium (a classical music concert hall). You'll even find a hotel and restaurants on the premises. Campus visitors praised the gorgeous architecture and were wowed by the sheer size of the university. They also enjoyed the many museums on-site.

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