WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
PHOTO | LAKESHORE MUSEUM CENTER
Muskegon is undergoing an exciting reinvention. A sprawling state-of-the-art convention center is to be completed in 2021, and many unique destinations are emerging along with it.
The Lakeshore Museum Center in downtown Muskegon is keeping pace by stepping up its cultural presence with more interactive opportunities. A new greeter awaits you at the museum’s main entrance: Moxie, a whimsical mastodon with blue tusks. A life-size mastodon is on display inside, and 20 more mini mastodons are on the loose, challenging scavenger hunters to discover them around Muskegon, which was recently named among the Best Small Towns to Visit by the lifestyle website Thrillist.com.
“We are focusing on connecting with visitors and the community,” stated Annoesjka Soler, President/CEO of the Lakeshore Museum Center. “We are very excited to be offering more interactive programming.”
The Muskegon Heritage Museum provides an interesting window into the city’s history with 12,000 square feet of industrial and Muskegon-made business artifacts. The facility is open through October, Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Natural and cultural history exhibits comprise multiple sites and buildings dating as far back as 1890. These include the Hackley & Hume Historic Site (exploring lumber barons’ homes), the Fire Barn Museum, the Scolnik House of the Depression Era, the Collection Center and Archives, and the museum gift shops. The main building is open year-round; the historic sites are seasonal.
“We’re excited that our venue today includes nine rooftops offering something of interest for everyone,” stated Soler. “Providing more experiential fun is our goal.”
All venues explore history and science through educational programs, hands-on experiences, special events, and presentations for all ages.
Muskegon’s new STEM Center is a favorite children’s venue. The creative-mind challenges include experimenting at an earthquake table where “architects” design a home and see if it collapses during a simulated earthquake. Each month brings an exciting new topic into focus in the STEM Center. These challenges are meant to make visitors think like an inventor, get creative, and problem-solve. Staff engages with the inventors, and the winners are listed on trophy walls until they are overtaken by the next winners, all in good fun.
Museum admission is minimal by day or by membership. Members earn special “Members Only” privileges and have access to all of the Center’s venues as well as hundreds of other museums nationwide (as part of ROAM, a reciprocal membership program made up of a network of museums sharing free admissions).
In the coming years, the museum is undertaking an expansion to allow more people to imagine, discover, and explore history and science. Currently, in the design and fundraising stage, Soler emphasized the importance of the community’s support. Contributions would empower the Center to deliver the goals of its mission on a grander scale: To inspire curiosity and wonder about the county’s natural and cultural history.
Lakeshore Museum Center
430 W. Clay Avenue, Muskegon MI 49440
(231) 722-0278, LakeshoreMuseum.org