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Hidden Gems Await Students in Detroit

Apr 4, 2008
Detroit has been experiencing a rebirth of new venues, hotels, educational attractions, and restaurants. Student travel groups interested in the history and culture of the area would be wise to make Detroit their next travel destination.

The Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour are all part of The Henry Ford, America's greatest history attraction. Located in Dearborn, Michigan, The Henry Ford is the nation's "largest indoor-outdoor history museum" complex in the world. More than a museum, it is a museum-entertainment complex where visitors can take a ride in a Model T, ride the train, visit an IMAX Theater, or see a live show.

Named for its founder, automobile industrialist Henry Ford and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the Henry Ford Museum houses a vast array of machinery, exhibits, automobiles and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy's limousine, Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theater, and the Rosa Parks bus.

Greenfield Village brings life to America's most powerful stories. Spread over more than 80 acres the village features many famous homes and shops including Thomas Edison's laboratory and the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop.

The Ford Rouge Factory Tour takes students on an awe-inspiring thrill ride behind the scenes at one of the world's largest automotive complexes, where Ford F-150 trucks are built.

In a town steeped in automotive history, student groups should continue their visit with a tour of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate. Built on 87 acres along the shores of Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Shores, the Cotswold mansion contains 60 rooms, as well as original antique furnishings, and an impressive collection of original and decorative art. Groups visiting during the spring, summer, and fall months can also enjoy the beautiful gardens and grounds.

From there it's a short drive down Jefferson Avenue to another historic venue, Pewabic Pottery. The pottery was founded in 1903 by the artist Mary Chase Perry Stratton. Mary took the word Pewabic from the Ojibwa word for the color of copper metal found in the Upper Peninsula copper mine where she spent time as a child. It refers to the unusual iridescent glaze covering the pottery and tiles created in a manner outlined by the International Arts and Crafts Movement. Teachers, who prearrange a visit, can tour the facility and then have their students participate in a workshop taught by on-site ceramic educators.

Continuing down Jefferson Avenue you will encounter one of the shining jewels of the city - the General Motors Renaissance Center located on the Detroit River. Student travel groups can begin their visit by touring the GM Next Showroom where cars of the future are on display and then ride a glass elevator to the 72nd floor for a spectacular panoramic view of Detroit and Canada.

Downtown Detroit also contains several of the best educational venues for student visitors. The Charles H. Wright Museum is the world's largest museum devoted to the significant events and accomplishments of African Americans. Their most popular exhibit, "And Still We Rise," is a journey through African American history and culture. It is a testament to the courage, determination, ingenuity and spiritual energy of African Americans as they pursued the full rights of citizenship.

Nearby is the Detroit Historical Museum. This 78,000 square foot facility contains six new exhibits that trace the history of southeastern Michigan. Included is the visitor-favorite exhibit, Streets of Old Detroit, where scenes from the 1840's, 1870's and early 1900's have been recreated. Another popular exhibit, Motor City, celebrates 100 years of automotive history in Detroit.

The Detroit Science Center offers student groups 110,000 square feet of scientific discovery. The science center contains five hands-on exhibit laboratories, two demonstration stages, Michigan's only IMAX Dome Theatre, and a Planetarium.

The Detroit Institute of Arts remains one of the most famous art museums in the country. The DIA just completed a six year, $158 million building and gallery reinstallation project. From the first van Gogh to enter a U.S. museum to Diego Rivera's world renowned Detroit Industry murals, the DIA is a must stop for every student group.

Those teachers looking for an in-depth educational experience at the DIA can schedule a 30-minute talk by the museum's curator, followed by a tour of the specific exhibit featured in the presentation.

The DIA Art Studio located in the Park Shelton Building adjacent to the museum offers student classes in sketching, clay modeling, graphic arts and painting. For a nominal fee your students can tour the museum, explore their artistic interests and get their creative juices flowing.

No tour of Detroit would be complete without a visit to the Motown Historical Museum. Long known as Hitsville USA, the museum is the home of the world famous Studio A where Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Jackson Five recorded their hits.

Detroit isn't simply the birthplace of automotive industry. It provides student tours with unforgettable educational travel experiences. The area bursts with possibilities and opportunities for historic and cultural exploration.
About the Author
travel adventures Travel Adventures is staffed by educators who understand the needs of teachers. Serving over one half million students since our inception, we provide hassle-free travel arrangements while empowering teachers to create change by expanding the classroom to the world.
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