The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum believes there's a scientist in all of us - and the museum's goal is to help both children and adults to discover it, promoting science literacy through experimentation, exploration and education.
Founded in 1978 in a brick firehouse, the building conversion and renovation was completed four years later. The museum opened in 1982 with 25 exhibits on two floors. The museum underwent its most recent renovation in 1999, and now occupies more than 40,000 square feet in downtown Ann Arbor, where it features more than 250 interactive exhibits and entertains 200,000 visitors per year.
Each of the museum's 250 exhibits has a different focus and is designed to bring some element or principle of physics, geology, math, music, technology, or other disciplines to life.
Some of the newer exhibits include:
Monarch Butterfly and Cecropia Moth display, where visitors can witness dozens of Cebropia caterpillars busily spinning their cocoons. Visitors can also view a Monarch Butterfly metamorphosis - perhaps even see a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.
Bernoulli Blast is an exhibit that demonstrates Bernoulli's Principle regarding fluid dynamics. This one-of-a-kind exhibit stands more than 15 feet tall and sends balls skyward on a column of air, only to then swirl down a steel sculpture to begin the process again.
The Solar Collector exhibit demonstrates how solar panels, which are located on top of a firehouse, collect energy that heats up the water that is used by firefighters. The exhibit tracks and monitors the heat of the water as it enters and exits the water heater, demonstrating how solar panels work and how they create energy.
The Egg of Columbus exhibit illustrates how Alternating-Current (AC)electric motors work. Nikola Tesla - considered by many to be the mostimportant scientistand inventor ofthe modern age - invented the Egg of Columbus for the 1893 World's Fair.
The MITCExhibit is a demonstration of computing and networking, featuring amounted large monitor, four smaller monitors, three exhibit cases andfour hands-on interface devices.
The newlyrenovated Light & Optics gallery is designed to spark the imagination,and features a high-tech method of experimenting with prisms, colors andlight.
Waste to Watts is a new exhibit that shows how modern, environmentallyfriendly technology can turn trash into electricity. The exhibit wasdeveloped by Landfill Energy Systems of Wixom, Michigan, anddemonstrates how methane gas recovery from landfills can be used as analternative energy source, thereby reducing our dependency on fossilfuels.
In addition to those exhibits, there are many, many more...from pumping water with an Archimedes Screw, to generating a tornado, to playing in a miniature fire engine. And the MediaWorks display allows visitors to see themselves as news anchors in a working CTN television studio.
More than 3.5 million people have visited the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum since it opened its doors in 1982. More than just a local attraction, the museum has become a regional destination that draws more than 60 percent of its visitors from outside the Ann Arbor area.
The Detroit Free Press named it the Best Museum in 2003, and the museum has also received national recognition by the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Association of Science and Technology Centers.