A Museum Trip for Black Friday

This was our year to head out to Michigan to join my brother and his family for Thanksgiving.  We had an uneventful trip out there although it was rather disconcerting when Toto the Rescue Pup refused to go to the bathroom for the entire car ride despite numerous stops along the way.  I couldn’t believe that she could “hold” it that long but she did.  Anyway, after a lovely Thanksgiving Day together, we decided to spend Black Friday at the Henry Ford Museum rather than fighting bargain shoppers at the stores.  I thought you might enjoy some of the sights we saw.

One of the first exhibits that we enjoyed were a set of dollhouses set up within clear plexiglass containers.  There were all styles and time periods represented.  Little kids and “big kids” seemed to be enjoying the exhibit with equal measures of delight.

Next up were a series of rooms depicting kitchens from different eras in American history.  I should have taken a notebook along with me so that I could have jotted down notes about what the different things were but I didn’t so bear with me in case I get things wrong.  I think this was a kitchen from around the late 1700’s.  It was definitely an Early American Kitchen.  I, of course, loved the big spinning wheel, which was the main focus of the room.

I believe this kitchen would have been around the early 1800’s.  It has a colonial feel to it.  Obviously the home was more sophisticated.  There is a baking oven contraption by the coals of the fireplace.  Built-in cupboards on either side of the fireplace are a nice touch.  It reminds me of homes you might find in Colonial Williamsburg.

I call this kitchen the “late-1800’s -early 1900’s” kitchen.  It’s the the type of kitchen that I grew up in on the farm.  My grandmother cooked on a Ben Franklin stove similar to this one for many years and we had a pump by the sink for water.  We STILL have a clock like the one on the shelf on the wall.

This is a kitchen from the 1940’s.  My parents had this type of kitchen for awhile.  Notice the Hoosier Cabinet in the back.  I love those cabinets.  My grandmother had one on the farm but it wasn’t painted over.  It was stained oak.

After enjoying the kitchens and walking around a lovely exhibit of old stoves and furnaces/heaters, we meandered through a lot of old farm equipment.  The one that caught my eye was this buckboard beauty.  It is almost an exact replica of the one that sat in a grove of trees on our farm in Minnesota.  My brother and I used to climb on it and play “make-believe” on it for many happy hours in the summers.  I still have some of the old wagon wheels sitting in my garage, waiting for the perfect place/use for them.  I also had the old buckboard seat for awhile and used it to hold potted plants for years until it gave up the ghost because it was exposed to the elements.  On the back was branded “Graf & Sons.”  In hindsight, I should have kept it inside and treated it like a treasured piece of our family history.

We went past some wonderful exhibits of furniture, including these gorgeous hope chests.  Wouldn’t you love to have one of these?  Just the patina is enough to knock my socks off.  I always get chills when I look at old furniture in museums.  I feel such a connection to the people who used the furniture.  Oh, the stories some of these pieces could tell!

Ditto with these woven blankets.  The intricacies of these patterns are just breathtaking.  Actually, our area of Pennsylvania made a lot of this type of blanket and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these in the exhibit didn’t originate from our area.

Of course, being the “Henry Ford Museum”, you can’t escape car exhibits.  This was really interesting to us.  It is an “exploded” look at the components of a Model T.  Since my brother owns the original Model T that belonged to our grandparents, we certainly enjoyed seeing all the different parts of this venerable classic.  There was also a section where you could “work” on a Model T.  I didn’t get pictures of the many cars on exhibit but there were a lot of different models and makes and a section of trailers and campers that we skipped but which looked quite intriguing.

By now, we had wandered over into an exhibit of historical aircraft.  This was a mock-up one of Admiral Byrd’s Antartic expedition preparations.

Here is the “Josephine Ford”, the Fokker that Byrd claimed to have flown over the North Pole in 1926.  Wow, I’m not sure I’d even feel safe flying over a cornfield in that thing.

There were other historical aircraft to enjoy.  This is a mock-up of the Wright Brothers’ airplane used at Kitty Hawk.  There was also an early helicopter prototype (very fascinating) and an early commercial airplane cabin that you could walk into to see how the interior varied from our modern jetliners of today.  Did you know that early commercial flight passengers sat in wicker chairs attached to the flooring?


Well, we headed from there over to the trains.  Oh, my…the size of these train engines were amazing.  There was an engine from Canada with a snowplow at the front that was at least as tall as two or three people standing on each other’s shoulders.  This particular engine is an Allegheny Locomotive.  It is one of the largest steam locomotives ever built.  The thing was HUGE!  According to the museum, it is the most photographed exhibit in the museum and I can see why.  Just amazing!

I forgot to mention that the actual bus where Rosa Parks took her brave stand for equal rights is in this museum as well.  You can actually walk onto the bus and sit in a seat while listening to the stirring voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his “Free at Last” speech in the background.  It is an emotional experience.

We headed from the stirring to the frivolous as we walked over to the Lego Villages.  These were big crowd-pleasers.  There were these little towns built as well as an airport.  There were also little tables set up nearby with Lego blocks for children to make their own creations.  I have to confess that I saw some adults playing with the blocks as well.

Heading back to the exit, we popped into one last exhibit.  This one is the “Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition” exhibit.  It will only be at the Henry Ford through Feb. 24, 2013.  It is simply amazing.  Here is the Empire State Building.

I LOVED these.  They were famous skyscrapers from around the world but I can’t tell you which ones they are.  No, the one from Dubai isn’t in this group but it was in the exhibit.

Here is a look at the base of one of the towers.  I wish I had a better picture of it but my camera battery ran out just 4 pictures into the museum so I had to use my iPhone camera for the rest of our visit.  I think you can get an idea, though, of the amazing use of individual pieces of Legos, used to make up these structures.  Woe be to anyone who happens to fall into one.  Yikes!

Base of Lego

There was so much more I could describe for you but I’ll spare you.  If you are ever in the Detroit area, a visit to the Henry Ford Museum is well worth a trip.  It is a fantastic place.  You won’t be sorry you took the time to squeeze in a stop there.


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