The Michigan State University Museum is the science and culture museum at MSU and Michigan’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate. The main exhibition building features three floors with fifteen galleries and exhibit spaces for collections and research, new and recent acquisitions, MSU faculty work and experimental student projects, and periodic traveling exhibits on loan from other museums. The long-standing exhibits include Collections Connections, Evolution in Action Gallery, Habitat Hall, Hall of Animal Diversity, Hall of Evolution, Hall of World Cultures, Heritage Hall, and Michigan Quilt Project Showcase.
The Michigan State University Museum collects, preserves, studies and interprets cultural artifacts and natural science specimens. Collections Connections presents selected artifacts and specimens so visitors can gain a better understanding of what the MSU Museum collects, what those collections signify, how they are stored and preserved, and how they are used. Visitors can view examples from the collections displayed in “open storage” in museum-quality storage cabinets. IMLS, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning, provides funds for critical upgrades to the MSU Museum’s collections to ensure their safekeeping.
Evolution in Action Gallery
The Evolution in Action Gallery features current MSU research through the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. There are three components of the gallery:
- Evolution hub – evolution processes (variation, inheritance, and selection) over time
- “50,000” – study of E. coli evolution over more than 25 years and 55,000 generations
- “VENOM” –research on co-evolution of grasshopper mice and bark scorpions.
The Habitat Hall features seven life-sized dioramas depicting the environments of North America including forests, grasslands, deserts, tropics and the tundra. Also featured are complete, articulated skeletons of two Jurassic dinosaurs, Allosaurus and Stegosaurus, as well as several smaller displays related to dinosaurs.
Hall of Animal Diversity
Through the display of animals organized by themes of adaptation, the exhibit shows the diversity in animals and different species, and how they have evolved adaptations to their habitats. Exhibit themes include backyard animals, island animals, camouflage, patterns, day and night behaviors, and adaptations over time.
Hall of Evolution
The Hall of Evolution exhibit at the MSU Museum is constructed as a time line with exhibits of fossils arranged in chronological order from the Cambrian Period (about 540 million years ago) to the Pleistocene Epoch or “Ice Age” that ended about 10,000 years ago. The specimens and illustrations serve as tools to show the gradual changes that have occurred on our planet according to fossil records.
Hall of World Cultures
The Hall of World Cultures artifacts offer a view of traditional cultures from all over the world. Through an assortment of artifacts originating from different cultures, the exhibit shows the variety and diversity of cultural patterns present throughout societies around the world. The exhibit includes themes of social, economic, political, religious and technological innovations. The artifacts on display range from traditional ritual objects to handmade tools used for survival. The Hall of World Cultures has a series of display cases comparing similar objects from different cultures or times periods.
Michigan’s cultural heritage is featured with an authentic fur trader’s cabin, a nineteenth century print shop, and a turn-of-the-century general store. The exhibit presents the legacy of the Great Lakes region by displaying three buildings typically found in Michigan ranging from the late 1700’s to the early 1900’s. There is also an area devoted to tools used in the harvesting of lumber in Michigan with corresponding images and photographs, accompanied by a diorama.
Also featured are the annual recipients of Michigan Heritage Awards and Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeships are highlighted in a changing display. More information about the Michigan Traditional Arts Program can be found at http://museum.msu.edu/s-program/mtap.
Michigan Quilt Project Showcase
The Michigan Quilt Project Showcase is located in the hallway outside the Collections Connections. Selections of quilts, changed approximately every three-four months, are from the museum’s collections or are ones, on loan, that have been documented through the Michigan Quilt Project. More information about the Great Lakes Quilt Center can be found at http://museum.msu.edu/glqc.