Introduction to Henry Ford Museum
The Henry Ford Museum is a remarkable treasure of American culture. The museum opened its doors in 1929 in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan. It is divided into two sections: The Indoor Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and the open-air Greenfield Village, which houses several restored old buildings such as Thomas Edison’s research lab and the Wright Brothers’ airplane workshop. All the exhibits and items displayed here are placed in different rooms. Each show has a detailed description given by the museum guides.
History of Henry Ford Museum
Henry Ford, one of America’s most successful businessmen, is known for inventing the assembly line mode of manufacturing, revolutionizing the automobile. He was always a collector, whether clocks, machines, or ancient books, and the richer he became, the more he collected. He was particularly interested in artifacts that reflected the tales of regular Americans and the technical progress in America.
What began as a personal collection got so vast that he had to build a museum to store it. The Edison Institute, named after his idol, debuted in June 1929. It was first opened to the public in 1933 with Henry Ford Museum. The museum continues to attract Americans and now houses a vast collection of 26 million artifacts.
Exhibits in the Henry Ford Museum
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is divided into two exhibition areas. They are:
1. Greenfield Village
Greenfield Village is organized into seven outdoor zones comprising reconstructed and restored historic buildings across the country. Almost a hundred ancient buildings were relocated from their original places and put in a “village” environment in the Greenfield Village. The museum’s goal is to depict how Americans have lived and worked since the nation’s birth, and the Village contains structures from the 17th to the present day.
The various exhibits here include:
- Noah Webster’s Connecticut residence functioned as a hostel for Yale scholars from 1918 until 1936, when Henry Ford purchased it and relocated it to Greenfield Village, where it was renovated.
- Replica of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park research lab: The inspiration was taken from Edison’s New Jersey lab, and its restoration began in 1928. The structures were designed using accurate foundation dimensions from the primary site.
- The Wright Brothers’ workshop: Henry Ford purchased and relocated the Wright brothers’ workshop and residence from Dayton, Ohio, in 1937.
- The Cape Cod Windmill: Also recognized as the Farris mill, the Cape Cod windmill is one of America’s oldest windmills. It was relocated across Cape Cod repeatedly before being given to Henry Ford by the Ford Dealers Association and restored in Greenfield Village in 1936.
- Henry Ford’s birth home was relocated in 1944 from Greenfield and Ford roads. Henry Ford had it equipped just as his mother had it in her time.
2. The Indoor Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation
The Indoor portion exhibits a variety of artifacts. Most of these are associated with famous American personalities or historical events in America.
The exhibits here include:
- With Liberty and Justice For all: This iconic exhibit features incredible artifacts such as Abraham Lincoln’s assassination chair, the presidential limo in which Kennedy was killed, and the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat
- Driving America: Some of the oldest American cars are displayed here, including the 1865 Roper and a hybrid 2002 Prius.
- Railroads: Railroads displays the history of railways in the US. Some of the iconic displays here include the Allegheny Locomotive and Fairlane Railcar.
- What we wore: Witness the wide range of clothing and accessories owned by Henry Ford and the exciting stories behind every clothing item.
The museum guides in the Henry Ford Museum of Innovation are dressed in costumes, engaging you with detailed descriptions of all the exhibits. You can also watch an 1867 baseball game, drive a Model T vehicle, or register in a one-room, 1870s-style classroom within the museum.
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation brings visitors face to face with America’s creativity and culture over the years. The Henry Ford Museum, a National Historic Landmark with an extraordinary collection of artifacts spanning 300 years of American history, is a driving force in stimulating curiosity and motivating the youth and tomorrow’s innovators.