Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (AAHOM) has over 250 interactive exhibits on science, technology, engineering, art, and math. AAHOM exhibits are focused on informal sensory learning through touching, exploration, and discovery. The museum is geared towards children in pre-K through eighth grade, but with four floors occupying 40,000 square feet, all ages can find something to enjoy. AAHOM opened in 1982 in the historic 1882 Ann Arbor Central Fire Station and added several expansions in the 1990s. Over 5.5 million people have visited AAHOM since its opening.
Backstory and Context
AAHOM’s has 250 exhibits over four full floors. The first floor concourse includes some of the most popular exhibits, such as the Water Gallery, Building in a Building, Explore Your World, and Block Party. The Preschool Gallery is specially designed for the youngest visitors, age four and under, and includes a dress-up space, water tables, and a child-size fire engine. The Legacy Gallery demonstrates basic mechanics all the way up to advanced technology. All About You explores the human body and healthy lifestyles. Visitors can learn about the biology and geology of the Great Lakes region in the Michigan Nature Gallery.2
Educational programs and outreach events are integral to the museum’s mission. AAHOM offers school classroom and auditorium workshops, as well as summer camps, scout programs, and birthday party activities. The museum provides reduced admission to low-income schools and videoconferencing activities around the world through its Distance Learning programs. Family Fun Nights showcase a variety of science and math activities that are intended to engage all members of the family. The ScienceWorks programs offer labs on topics like music, physics, water, and fossils for ages three to fourteen. The Kids in the Kitchen program aims to teach children healthy eating habits. The museum has also recently began creating popular adult-only events such as Pint at the Museum and a 3-D printing design workshop.3