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Programs and Events

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Recent and Upcoming Programs

Museum Board planning public commemoration of Underground Railroad designation of Greenwood Cemetery September 17 at Quarton Lake Park with Greenwood Tour to Follow

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom logoIn March, the City learned that its application was approved to designate the gravesites of Elijah Fish and George Taylor to the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The two men, both buried in Birmingham’s Greenwood Cemetery, have been shown by the research of Birmingham Museum staff and volunteers to have direct connections to local anti-slavery efforts leading up the Civil War. Pioneer settler Fish was an active abolitionist, and Taylor himself escaped enslavement and followed the Underground Railroad through Michigan to freedom, becoming the first African American to own property in Birmingham.  

Greenwood Cemetery Map of Baldwin ParkThe Museum Board is heading up the effort to formally acknowledge the National Park Service’s listing with a commemorative event on Saturday, September 17, 2022. A brief program will take place at 11:00 AM at the north end of Baldwin Park at Quarton Lake at the corner of Oak and Lakeside, just one block from Greenwood Cemetery, with a tour of the gravesites immediately following.  Speakers at the free event will include the key researchers involved and representatives from the City Commission and from Seaholm High School’s Black Student Union, among others.

Thanks to our local gardeners for trading their perennial plants and divisions at our first annual Heritage Plant Exchange!

Postcard ImageJune 4, 2022    10am - 2pm    The Birmingham Museum (556 W. Maple, Birmingham, MI)

The Birmingham Museum has been working toward improving public access and improvements to the museum grounds in the past year, with the goal to reconstruct the character of the Allens’ original gardens from 1926. The final phase involves planting the main garden bed with heritage perennial flowers, many of which are still available today, and found in local gardens. And because spring is the time for dividing and thinning perennials, the Museum Board has planned a fun event to invite the public to get in on the perennial garden project in a first ever community Heritage Plant Exchange at the Birmingham Museum at 556 W. Maple Road..

The public is invited to bring a healthy plant (or two) to trade with others and/or place in the Allen House perennial garden. There is no charge for the exchange—leave a plant, take a plant. Get something new for your garden, and meet fellow green thumbers! (Museum board member and master gardener Jay Shell will be on hand to answer gardening questions, and the museum will be open for visitors (regular admission applies) during the event. All plants must be labeled; blank labels will be available on site.


App Image Birmingham MuseumNew Museum App Launching in May 2022 for Personalized Student-Parent History Experience

Students, bring an adult to the museum during May and get in free
to test a new interactive tour experience designed to enhance your elementary curriculum! The app is free for Android and Apple (search The Birmingham Museum), and offers a tour-within-the-tour opportunity for kids and their parents to share the visit to the Hunter House and the Allen House in the way that works best for them. Plus, you can review it later in case you missed something or want to study it more. There is a quickie survey to give feedback about the app-based tour to the museum to help in future tour development at the museum and around the city.  But you don't have to be at the museum site to check it out--you can download it anytime to explore what the museum has to offer, or get more updated information. 

2022's Local History Lectures at Baldwin Library (also on video at our YouTube Channel)

Polly Utter's grave markerOctober 14, 2021    7pm     The 1825 Utter Murders, Revisited (Commander Scott Grewe and Leslie Pielack)
In the dusk of April 4, 1825 along the Saginaw Trail, a local man went on a violent rampage with an ax, killing two people and a horse before he was stopped. What led up to this horrific event? How did this tragedy affect the community? Join Commander Scott Grewe of the Birmingham Police Department and Leslie Pielack of the Birmingham Museum in a re-examination of this crime in the wilderness of early Birmingham. Now on video at our YouTube Channel!

Chief OkemosNovember 4, 2021  7pm      The Saginaw Trail and Oakland County’s Indigenous People (Leslie Pielack)
The indigenous people of Michigan faced catastrophic loss with the incoming white settlement after the War of 1812, but this tragic history is rarely covered in school. Why did the Michigan tribes sell their land? How did they deal with settlers in Oakland County? What happened to Michigan’s indigenous people in the latter 19th century? Join Leslie Pielack, author of The Saginaw Trail: From Native American Path to Woodward Avenue, for a discussion of the major events affecting local Native people, and their relationship with settlers along the Saginaw Trail. Now on video at our YouTube Channel!

Winter Scene with log cabinDecember 2, 2021  7pm      Christmas in Early Birmingham (Donna Casaceli)
Celebration of the Christmas season has changed in Birmingham throughout the years. Learn how early Birmingham celebrated the holidays as we explore these early traditions and their history with Donna Casaceli from the Birmingham Museum. Now on video at our YouTube Channel!

Fireplace in the Hunter HouseJanuary 6, 2022      7pm       Surviving Winter Before Central Heating (Caitlin Donnelly)
Michigan isn't known for its pleasant winters, so how did folks in Birmingham in the early 1800s survive and thrive without central heating or modern conveniences?  Bundle up and put another log in the fire as we explore how early Birminghamsters would have kept warm, eaten and entertained themselves during the winter. Presented by Caitlin Donnelly from the Birmingham Museum.

 Abbie FarmerFebruary 3, 2022    7pm      Black Families of Early Birmingham (Leslie Pielack)
For Black History Month, the Birmingham Museum has much to share about early Birmingham’s African American history! New research has emerged regarding four local families and their fascinating connection to Birmingham and each other. They include a formerly enslaved couple who came to early Birmingham, mothers and daughters separated by enslavement who were later reunited, and a local family whose multi-racial heritage traces to Colonial America and a prominent community of free people of color. Leslie Pielack will present recent findings from museum staff research into our fascinating but little known local Black history. Watch the video recording.

 Edna Ferguson in Plane March 3, 2022        7pm       Birmingham Women in Aviation (Donna Casaceli)
From the earliest women pilots to the first woman astronaut, Birmingham has been at the forefront of female flight. Experience the joy through the eyes of some of Birmingham's most adventurous women with Donna Casaceli of the Birmingham Museum.

 Belle Isle Ponies   April 7, 2022
       7pm          Birmingham: America’s Shetland Pony Capital (Caitlin Donnelly)

From the late 19th through early 20th century, the quiet village of Birmingham was the place to buy the highly desirable Shetland breed of pony. The gentle and sturdy ponies were not only in demand on farms, but were featured summertime amusements at Detroit’s Belle Isle, Boblo Island and Palmer Park.  Don’t miss this chance to hear more about Birmingham’s pony tales!

  John Allen Bigelow  May 5, 2022        7pm          Birmingham’s Stories of War and Service (Donna Casaceli)
From the original founding of our country, Birmingham men and women have served bravely to protect our freedom. Through their stories, we can honor them for their service and their sacrifice. Join Donna Casaceli from the Birmingham Museum in sharing the amazing stories of these courageous and committed Birmingham citizens.

Map of Michigan showing Underground Railroad RoutesJune 3, 2022         7pm   Juneteenth and Birmingham’s Connection to the Underground Railroad (Donna Casaceli)
Buried in Greenwood Cemetery are two men, separated by time and the circumstances of their birth, but joined in the struggle to end slavery in the United States. Learn how George Taylor and Elijah Fish worked to abolish slavery in America and the connection of Birmingham to the Underground Railroad in this celebration of Juneteenth.