Our Story
Allen House-2018The Birmingham Museum was established in May 2001 at the former Marion and Harry Allen House and surrounding four acres. It includes the oldest house in Oakland County, the 1822 John West Hunter House as well as the 1928 Allen House. These historic structures are linked by a public plaza, the gateway to the grounds, which were dedicated in 2007 as the John West Hunter Historic Park. The landscape includes some of the most complex and diverse topography, including a spring fed pond and connection to the Rouge River corridor, all just a short walk from downtown Birmingham.  The Allen House features changing exhibits about Birmingham and its heritage, while the Hunter House (also listed on the National Register of Historic Places) reflects 19th century pioneer life in the settlement. Watch a brief promotional video produced by Birmingham Bloomfield Cable Television.  

2018 School TourThe museum works in partnership with other community organizations, such as the Friends of the Birmingham Museum (also known as the Birmingham Historical Society) and the Baldwin Public Library.  Together, we provide public tours, entertaining lectures, and special events, such as our popular adult lecture series and children's storytime in the historic Hunter House.  

Twice a year, the Friends host guided tours of historic Greenwood Cemetery, and also provide self-guided tours for visitors all year round. They also assist with lectures and historic research, a specialized service are also available at the museum.

Our Site
Program and Exhibit Support:  If you appreciate our informative and enjoyable videos and filmed lecture series, this may be the ideal way for you to contribute to our ongoing virtual content and exhibits, especially at this challenging pandemic time. You can do so at https://bhamgov.wufoo.com/forms/w1t0dzvk1dz3xoz/

Membership:  Now you can become a member of the Friends of the Birmingham Museum, a 501c3 non-profit organization, or renew your membership online at https://bhamgov.wufoo.com/forms/py6jx4c0rxez2l/

Museum Gift Shop:  Selected books and museum post cards can be purchased online and picked up curbside if you wish. The ideal way to get that special historical gift and support the Birmingham Museum; https://bhamgov.wufoo.com/forms/w148wb420f8s2z8/ 
 
We Offer Research Services!
Looking for information on people or places from Birmingham's past? We can help! Our archives include a vast array of historic photographs of buildings and houses, maps, documents, and especially people. Get in touch to see if we have the information you are looking for--it might just be in our files. We will let you know if we are likely to have what you need, and if you want us to provide research services, our rates are $25 for the first hour and $15 thereafter, with additional fees for digital scans and photocopies. Give us a call at 248-530-1682 to find out more. 

Take a look at our plans for The Birmingham Museum:
Updated 2017-2020 Strategic Plan
In 2013, the museum adopted a three-year 2013-2016 Strategic Plan to identify goals and related activities, and to help the museum achieve its operational and professional objectives.  The plan received input from focus groups and from the general public, and has been very well received.  During 2016, the Museum Board updated the plan for the next three year period. The revised 2017-2020 Birmingham Museum Strategic Plan was approved by the Birmingham City Commission and is now available to view.

Master Landscape Plan for Historic Museum Site Now Complete
wifi006In accordance with its strategic plan, the Museum Board has been working for some time to evaluate and develop a conceptual Master Landscape Plan that would provide guidance for future planning of the nearly four acres of grounds around the museum. In addition to identifying and preserving the natural and historic resources of the landscape, providing enhanced barrier free public access and interpretive opportunities are key provisions of the final 2018 Birmingham Museum Master Landscape Plan.

 




Museum Receives Michigan Museums Association 2018 Annual Award for Community Engagement

MMA Award MMA Award-Group PhotoFor the second time in recent years, the Birmingham Museum was the recipient of an award for excellence from the Michigan Museums Association, which represents hundreds of museums large and small all over our state. In 2018, MMA introduced a new Outreach Award to recognize a museum for excellence and leadership in the museum community in the area of public engagement. To be considered, the project or program needed to be unique, innovative, and community-driven, as was demonstrated by our year-long bicentennial exhibit, "The People of Birmingham: 200 Years of Stories."

Museum Award In 2014, the Birmingham Museum was also recipient of an MMA award in the category of "Best New Experience," which recognized a museum's innovative way of enriching visitor experience and forming meaningful connections between people and culture. “Afternoon Backstage with Chad Smith” brought the local rock star and special guests together at his exhibit at the museum.  Smith, Grammy-award-winning drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, grew up in the area and was featured as part of the Sounds of Birmingham music exhibition.  The museum worked to keep the event personal and intimate for both guests and Smith, while raising needed funds.  The reception brought the museum and its music exhibition to a whole new audience, and received rave reviews from both guests and Chad and his family. 


Museum Receives Legislative Tribute

Manoogian with Leg Tribute

State Representative Mari Manoogian presented the Birmingham Museum with a State of Michigan Legislative Tribute on August 23, 2019. The document was signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilcrist II and is a testament to the museum's efforts to reach new audiences in engaging ways:




LET IT BE KNOWN that the Birmingham Museum has since 2001 provided a top-quality educational experience to the people of Birmingham, Michigan. 
 
        The Birmingham Museum was founded in May of 2001 at the Marion and Harry Allen House and the surrounding area. It includes the oldest house in Oakland County, the 1822 John West Hunter House. The museum works to educate citizens as the history of Birmingham and the many people who have lived here. The Museum won the 2018 Michigan Museums Award for Community Engagement for its exhibit “The People of Birmingham: 200 Years of Stories.”
 
        The Museum had previously won the 2014 Michigan Museum Association Award for “Best New Experience” for “Afternoon Backstage With Chad Smith.” That event showcased the museum’s ability to deliver creative and entertaining alternative programming to the citizens of Birmingham.
 
        The museum must also be recognized for its amazing Twitter account, @bham_museum. This once again shows the ability of the museum to engage patrons in creative and non-traditional ways. It’s the best Twitter account of any museum around, don’t @ us.
 
        IN SPECIAL TRIBUTE, Therefore, this document and signed and dedicated to Birmingham Museum. May you continue your excellence in the fields of history and education for years to come.


Thank you, Rep. Manoogian, and thank you to all our patrons and visitors (both virtual and physical)! We look forward to even more creative contact in the future.   


On Monday, June 8, 2020, City of Birmingham Mayor Pierre Boutros issued the following Proclamation on Social Injustice on behalf of the City and all its departments, including the Birmingham Museum:

Proclamation

ON SOCIAL INJUSTICE

 WHEREAS,  the death of George Floyd, an African American man, by the hands of police officers of the Minneapolis Police Department while in custody, leaves all persons shocked, appalled and infuriated by police misconduct , and
 
WHEREAS,  the actions and in-actions of those officers were a disgrace to the law enforcement community, and were so egregious that the people of the United States of America have taken to protests and demonstrations throughout the nation to confront the issues of racial discrimination inequality and misconduct by police, and
 
WHEREAS, it is incumbent upon every person in this country to take a stand against racism, discrimination , misconduct, and violence, and send a clear message that those behaviors have no place in a civilized society; and

WHEREAS, our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, especially the families and friends; by the social injustices that have occurred, and
 
WHEREAS,  all people must condemn and refuse to tolerate racism, injustice, and violence of any kinds toward any person and that all people must work together to build a future that ensures fairness, respect, dignity, security, and justice for all, now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I, Pierre Boutros, Mayor for the City of Birmingham, proclaim the condemnation of the killing of George Floyd, and further condemn all forms of misconduct, racism, and discrimination, and we set forth our commitment to work for a more just society that provides safety, opportunity, and equality under the law for all those in America, irrespective of race, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

Mayor Pierre Boutros 
On behalf of thCity of Birmingham this 5th daof June, 2020. 


Permanent Displays

Circa 1976 Creem Magazine Office and Reading Room To Become a Permanent Exhibit
Popular demand of our Creem Magazine archives by the public, researchers, filmmakers, and rock historians has resulted in a logical conclusion that we need to 'bring Creem back!'  After the 2014 Sounds of Birmingham exhibit was uninstalled, the interest in Creem seemed to only intensify.  To help bring the collection closer to visitors and researchers, we will re-create the Creem offices in a permanent exhibit and create a study station as well as an expanded display of our artifacts.  We expect the exhibit to be ready some time this summer.  

1927 Barnum School Flint Faience & Tile Storybook Fireplace

Barnum FireplaceLike many elementary schools of the era, Birmingham’s Barnum Elementary had a hearth-centered reading area for young children.  Art tile potteries of the period specialized in designs that featured childhood themes and nursery rhyme characters, and are commonly called “storybook” tile fireplaces.  Barnum’s was designed by the well-known Flint Faience & Tile Company, which produced glazed ceramic tile from 1922-1933.  When Barnum school was demolished in 2007, the fireplace surround was carefully de-constructed and stored.  In 2012, the fireplace was re-installed as a permanent exhibit at the Allen House.  The project was significantly funded by the Birmingham Rotary, with additional funding by the Friends of the Birmingham Historical Museum.   A complete interpretive plan will be undertaken to complete the room, which will include additional history on Birmingham’s rich educational traditions.

Step Into a 1920s to 1930s Kitchen
Lillian Gilbreth KitchenAllen Kitchen Sink WallYou can almost smell the cookies baking and feel the warmth when you experience our period kitchen room.  Inspired by the Allen House’s original 1928 blueprints and Marion Allen’s color scheme, the layout and conveniences are typical of the era—practical and efficient.  The mint green color was matched to the original paint layer discovered on the walls; the sink and appliances are of the period; and the cabinets and tile countertop are modern reproductions.

Off white painted cabinets with glass doors and a large wall-mounted enamel sink were common at the time, GE Monitor Top Refrigerator1925 Preference Kitchen Stoveas were modern kitchen ranges such as the c. 1925 white enamel Preference.  It boasted elegant slender legs, four gas burners, a single oven stacked over a broiler, and a utility drawer.   Typical kitchen work tables had porcelain tops, such as this one from the Marshall Field & Company.  The c. 1927 General Electric Monitor Top’s cylindrical motor was top-mounted; it had a large capacity for the time, and sold for a hefty $300.  To make finance the cost, homeowners could add a monthly amount to their electric bills. Built to last, some of these gems can still be found in working order and are very popular among collectors.