The public can enjoy a free visit to a museum as part of Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day promotion. Participating institutions include the  Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum in Eastpointe, pictured.

The public can enjoy a free visit to a museum as part of Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day promotion. Participating institutions include the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum in Eastpointe, pictured.

Photo provided by Wendy Richardson


Museum Day to offer the public a free day of culture, history

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 17, 2019

 The Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum offers a wide variety of exhibits and displays showing the influence that Michigan has had on military history.

The Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum offers a wide variety of exhibits and displays showing the influence that Michigan has had on military history.

Photo provided by Wendy Richardson

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EASTPOINTE — People can expand their minds or broaden their horizons for free on Saturday, Sept. 21, thanks to Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day program.

The program asks museums and other cultural centers from across the United States to sign up and offer visitors free admission to those institutions for the course of the day.

“Museum Day is an annual event, put on by Smithsonian magazine, during which participating museums across the United States open their doors for free to those who download a branded ticket,” Amy Wilkins, chief revenue officer at Smithsonian Media, explained in an email. “Museum Day allows museums, zoos and cultural centers from all 50 states to emulate the spirit of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities, which offer free admission every day.”

Among the museums taking part is the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum in Eastpointe. Museum administrators said Smithsonian magazine’s program is a great opportunity for the public.

“We are a member of a number of historical organizations, and one of them forwarded us the information about Museum Day,” said museum Treasurer Wendy Richardson. “We are always interested in expanding our reach and making it more accessible for people to come in.”

The Eastpointe institution has several exhibits and displays showing the military history of Michigan and its residents.

“We have everything Michigan-made and Michigan-related from World War I to the present,” Richardson said. “This includes everything from spark plugs to uniforms to vehicles. We try to share how Detroit has been instrumental in maintaining democracy.”

Richardson added that a free admission day is an effective tool for getting people in the door and spreading the word about smaller museums such as theirs.

“It’s a pretty low-risk situation, because you can register and get a free pass,” she said. “People come and they always say, ‘Oh, I have to bring back this one person I know.’ It always helps us spread news about us through word-of-mouth.”

“There are so many great museums and cultural institutions throughout our country that you may not even know about — some of them right in your own backyard,” Wilkins stated. “Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day draws attention to these hidden gems, showcases their programming — both year-round and Museum Day-specific — and provides an impetus to visit without ticket costs posing a barrier.”

Richardson said there is plenty to see and explore at the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum, and she thinks many will be surprised at the extent of the displays.

“We have 11,000 square feet, and it’s a lot bigger than people expect,” she said. “We have vehicles inside, and we have a lecture series in the fall and winter, which is very popular. That’s between September and May. We take part in parades and reenactments as well.”

She also said the museum’s small but comprehensive collection is a good way for people who want to utilize Museum Day but may not want to drive far or spend a lot of time.

“Anyone who wants to see a museum but not spend the whole day there I think will enjoy this museum,” she said. “There are a lot of museums whose parking fees cost more than our admission cost. We try to do a lot of activities, like scavenger hunts and interactive exhibits, to bring people in and show them some interesting artifacts in interesting ways.”

Wilkins said there are hundreds of museums that people can choose from, and there is almost certainly a participating museum close to virtually everyone.

“So far, there are over 1,500 museums signed up to participate in this year’s Museum Day,” Wilkins stated. “Any 501(c)(3) museum that wants to participate in Museum Day can do so by registering their museum at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-day-2019/registration/.”

For more information about Museum Day and to download tickets, visit www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday.

Wilkins also stressed the importance of allowing people to have access to such institutions.

“This is is Smithsonian magazine’s 15th annual Museum Day,” Wilkins stated. “Smithsonian magazine began this cultural celebration fifteen years ago as a way to acknowledge its members who lived all around the country. It has since grown into something so much more than that. This event is important, as it highlights the culture, history, science, art and nature that each state has to offer and represents a national commitment to access to these unique places.”

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