Programs & Events
Video Tours & Museum App
Recent and Upcoming Programs & Events
Fall 2023-Spring 2024 Lecture Series at the Baldwin Public Library
Birmingham's 200-year history of diversity is highlighted in our popular Tapestry of Birmingham exhibit, which will be extended to June, 2024. Our lecture series will draw from the exhibit and explore some of the cultural issues that have been experienced in our community in the context of the larger American story. All lectures will be available as video only during the Baldwin Library's planned construction project.
October 12, 2023, 7 PM (Hispanic Heritage Month): (Donna Casaceli)
Carlos Lopez: The Painter Behind the Controversy—Carlos Lopez was a gifted and well-known muralist whose work was highly esteemed when he was commissioned in 1942 to paint a federally funded mural in Birmingham’s new Post Office, and encountered surprising criticism of the final work. Join Donna Casaceli in exploring the life and works of Carlos Lopez and the story of the Birmingham Post Office mural.
November 9, 2023, 7 PM: (Caitlin Donnelly)
Birmingham’s Washington Willits and 19th Century Mental Health Treatment—In 1850, the son of one of the founding families of Birmingham was noted as “deranged” on the census, later dying tragically after discharge from a mental asylum in New York. Caitlin Donnelly will explore what Willits’ story tells us about the understanding and treatment of mental illness at the time.
January 11, 2024, 7 PM: (Justin Koch)
A Shifting Landscape: How Immigration Shaped Birmingham—How was Birmingham affected by the waves of immigration to the U.S. over the last two hundred years? Who were the groups who gravitated toward Birmingham, and why? Justin Koch will give a closer look at how Birmingham was shaped within the larger national context of immigration.
February 8, 2024, 7 PM (Black History Month): (Caitlin Donnelly)
The Civil Rights Movement in the 1970s and Birmingham’s CREEM Magazine—Prison uprisings, drug culture, “porn rock,” moral panic, and “Boy, Howdy!”...The struggle for civil rights influenced the music of the times, and “America’s only Rock’n’Roll Magazine,” CREEM, was there to cover it. Learn more about how the magazine, published here from 1973-1986, examined the intersection of race, class, and music during the period.
March 14, 2024, 7 PM (Women’s History Month): (Donna Casaceli)
The Prindle Sisters: Birmingham's Pioneer Women-- They came as brides to the unknown frontier of Oakland County wilderness after the War of 1812, bringing little else but each other. Join Donna Casaceli us to learn about how these pioneer women faced many hardships to build early Birmingham.
Our 2022-2023 Local History Lectures now our YouTube Channel
The Birmingham Museum has been doing some deeper dives into our local cultural heritage and learning some amazing things about Birmingham’s racial and ethnic past. Join Leslie Pielack and Donna Casaceli for an overview of the enlightened, progressive, controversial, and sometimes downright shocking events that surround our complex cultural history in this introduction to our current exhibit, “A Tapestry of Birmingham: Exploring Our Diversity.”
Buried Past: Birmingham’s Indigenous People and Archaeological Heritage (Caitlin Donnelly) (originally presented November 10, 2022)
Minoru Yamasaki and Asian Americans in Birmingham (Justin Koch) (originally presented January 12, 2023)
An incredibly gifted Japanese-American architect, Yamasaki became famous for his design of New York’s Twin Towers, the iconic symbol forever merged with the 9/11 terror attacks. Yet this exceptional person was unable to purchase a house in Birmingham due to discrimination in the mid-20th century. Hear more about his and other Asian American experience in post-World War II Birmingham with Justin Koch of the Birmingham Museum.
Early Abolitionists and the Local Underground Railroad Network (Leslie Pielack) (originally presented February 9, 2023)
During Black History Month, join Leslie` Pielack to revisit our local Black history and new findings about Oakland County’s network of abolitionists and Underground Railroad activists. Who was involved? How did they accomplish it? What happened to the freedom seekers who came through Birmingham and the surrounding communities of Royal Oak, Pontiac, Southfield, Franklin, White Lake, and others? Learn how local historians are working together to answer these questions.
The Levinsons: First Jews in Birmingham (Leslie Pielack) (originally presented March 9, 2023)
(Encore presentation) To venture into a whole new world where they were outsiders was only part of the challenge faced by Morris and Gitel Levinson in 1896. Adding to their obstacles, they were recent immigrants from Russia trying to adapt to American culture; and, furthermore, Jewish in a non-Jewish town. Yet the Levinsons prevailed, bridging the gap between old traditions and modern America in the growing town of Birmingham. Their descendants helped shape America and the world, and still have a presence in the area, and include Carl and Sander Levin, Bess Levinson, and David Levinson.
Themed Self-Guided Tours of Greenwood Cemetery
"Birmingham's Pioneers" features the stories of men and women who came to the wilderness of Oakland County to start new lives half way along the Saginaw Trail (now Woodward Avenue) from Detroit to Pontiac, and are among the earliest burials at Greenwood. The tour path is concentrated in the oldest section of the cemetery near the east entrance on Oak Street. "19th Century Community Builders" takes visitors through more of the cemetery as the path meanders past the grave sites of those who helped build the small settlement of Birmingham into a thriving village and humming commercial center. And, for those of you curious about Greenwood's more recent past, "20th Century Notables" highlights an even longer walk through many famous internees, such as American sculptor Marshall Fredericks, noted author Elmore Leonard, early aviators, auto makers and engineers, and the parents of world-famous Twin Towers architect, Minoru Yamasaki.
Marshall Fredericks Walking/Driving Tour
Famous sculptor Marshall Fredericks resided in Birmingham, and his works are among the most important American art of the 20th century. Our community is proud to have so many of his works available for the public to view! Download the four page brochure to see a great downtown walking/driving tour with information on each of the sculptures, provided by Fredericks expert Marcy Heller Fisher. (Shown: Freedom of the Human Spirit, Downtown Birmingham's Shain Park; photo courtesy Hometown Life)
Downtown Birmingham Walking Tour
Birmingham has a long and interesting history. Many of the residences and commercial buildings in the downtown area have had fascinating roles to play in the town, and some have been around for more than a century. Take a walking tour and check out some of the more interesting and historic of these structures in this walking tour brochure. (Shown: Birmingham Theater, built 1927. Photo courtesy Ron Gross)
Video Tours & Museum App
Can't make it into the museum for an in person tour? We have several video tours available! The Friends of the Birmingham Museum put together a few videos showcasing individuals on their cemetery tours. This playlist was designed for our second grade virtual visitors. This tour was done for Kent Lund's "The Collectors" program, while the video below features Bella, the city's therapy dog, taking a tour of our "Beyond Suffrage" exhibit.
The Underground Railroad Tour features the newly designated National Park Service Network to Freedom historical burial sites of freedom seeker George B. Taylor and abolitionist Elijah S. Fish. Their stories are detailed in the app, which also tells you where to find their final resting places. The app will also offer the three established and popular tours of others who helped shaped Birmingham during three different periods: The Birmingham's Pioneers Tour explains who the key settlers were during the earliest period, especially the murders of Polly Ann and Cynthia Utter in 1825. The 19th Century Community Builders Tour highlights the next generation of families who established Birmingham as a thriving local commercial center and whose names appear all over Birmingham on city streets and many of our historic buildings. And, the 20th Century Notables Tour includes recognizable names from more recent times, including the Booth family of Cranbrook, sculptor Marshall Fields, and novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard.
But Wait-There's More! The app can be used to explore the Allen and Hunter Houses remotely. We also have cool student tours of the Hunter House and the Allen House to give a taste of what these homes were like when they were occupied by some of Birmingham's best known families. 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. 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.
Museum App has Interactive Student Tours
Visitors will be able to walk through the museum’s 1822 Hunter House and find those objects that tell special stories that relate to Birmingham’s pioneer period for the elementary local history curriculum requirements. In the Allen House, the specialized tour in the app gives a peek into the lost world of the Allen family in 1926 with view of the rooms now and how they looked when the Allens lived in the house. At the cemetery, visitors can take 4 different tours exploring the history of Birmingham from its earliest settlers to the present day. Check back soon to find out what new tours are added to the app, or contact the museum at 248-530-1928.