Following a five-year, $30 million renovation, Sloan Museum of Discovery reopens to the public on July 16, 2022 — and the grand opening promises to excite and amaze the whole community, says Anne Mancour, Marketing Manager for Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium.
“Sloan Museum of Discovery is a completely interactive, hands-on science and history museum and there’s nothing like it in the state of Michigan or in surrounding areas,” Mancour says.
With four distinct galleries spread across 107,000 square feet (almost double its pre-renovation size), the space has something for everyone to explore. From history to science — even the past, present and future of automobiles — Sloan Museum offers plenty of fun and educational opportunities for the whole family.
Read on to learn more about everything your family must do and see at the newly renovated Sloan Museum of Discovery. Discover all there is to do at Discovery Hall, History Gallery, Durant Gallery and Hagerman Street.
Four unique galleries
Discovery Hall is the museum’s interactive science gallery and features two large exhibits and 10 bite-sized exhibits. Water Everywhere is a custom-built interactive water table where kids and adults can discover the Great Lakes and how they were formed. Follow a series of interactive aqueducts to learn about sand dunes and rock formations, even a simulated glacier to learn about how glaciers created the Great Lakes.
“Water Everywhere shows how water carved the Great Lakes, the force of water and how tributaries move water out through the locks towards the Atlantic Ocean, among many other things,” Mancour says. “We think it’s important for kids to recognize how we have these amazing Great Lakes and that they connect us to the rest of the world.”
Spaceship Earth climbing structure, the second dramatic feature exhibit in Discovery Hall, includes a three-story globe that teaches visitors about the Earth and natural sciences. “This is another custom-made exhibit that will amaze visitors of all ages,” Mancour explains.
For little ones
Small children will love Hagerman Street, an early childhood learning gallery that features a child-sized neighborhood. “This little town is perfect for kids up to age 6 and has tricycles for children to ride around to visit areas of the town. There’s even a little roundabout,” Mancour says.
A three-story treehouse features leaves that change with the seasons and forms a centerpiece for learning about photosynthesis, what creatures live and hide in trees and how trees provide nuts and other food.
“The whole idea is that children are learning while they are having fun,” Mancour says.
Rich history of Genesee County
The History Gallery takes visitors through Genesee County, beginning with its earliest Native American inhabitants, along a symbolic Flint River. “The Flint River is the No.1 reason the city exists. Indians traded along the riverbanks and early settlers used the river to transport lumber,” says Mancour, adding that Flint became known for its vehicles because horse-drawn carriages were built here.
“The carriage factories gave growth to cars, but Hellcat Tanks were built in Flint factories during WWII,” she says. “Our factories were retooled to be able to build weapons and tanks and that was part of Flint’s participation in the war effort.”
Built to accommodate change as history progresses, the History Gallery also focuses on the Flint water crisis.
A museum named for Alfred P. Sloan, longtime CEO and president of General Motors, wouldn’t be complete without a Vehicle Gallery, and this one contains a rare collection of 105 vintage and concept cars. “It’s not just vintage cars, but all kinds of vehicles including carriages, wagons and bikes, anything built in Genesee County,” Mancour explains. “This gallery takes visitors through the future of cars through a partnership with GM to showcase new self-driving vehicles.”
Eventually, Sloan Museum of Discovery will accommodate traveling exhibits. “They’re a surprise, but nationally known and captivating,” Mancour says. “These are something people in Genesee County would normally have to travel a long way to get to see.”
Thanks to an arts and cultural millage, general admission is free for Genesee County residents. Discounted packages are also available for those who visit Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium — Michigan’s largest planetarium — which is right across the street.
Learn more about Sloan Museum of Discovery’s grand opening weekend, July 16-17, 2022, at sloanmuseum.org.