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Updated: Jun 28, 2023
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Programs & Events  
Walking Tours  
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.

Lopez at easelOctober 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.

Pontiac Asylum Building-19th centuryNovember 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.

DURworkers - CopyJanuary 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.

CREEM Feb 73 - CopyFebruary 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. 

pioneer life in michigan 1859March 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

Our recent lecture series explored Birmingham's cultural diversity history and the many sides of the social and racial struggles in our past.  The following lectures are now available on our YouTube channel, with captions. Each lecture is approximately 45 min. in length. Thanks to the Baldwin Public Library, our sponsor, for providing the video.

Tapestry Exhibit Graphic October 13, 2022 7 PM: Threads: A Tapestry of Birmingham’s Historic Diversity (Leslie Pielack/Donna Casaceli)
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)06 Projectile Points (originally presented November 10, 2022)  
What do we know about the people who occupied this area before contact with Europeans? What archaeological finds have occurred in the area, and what is their connection to the Saginaw Trail (now Woodward Avenue)?  What became of Oakland County’s indigenous people? Caitlin Donnelly will draw from her archaeological and anthropological background to help explain what we know--and what we still don't know--about the people who preceded our pioneer settlers.

close-up-Lopez MuralCarlos Lopez and the Controversial Birmingham Post Office Mural of 1942  (Donna Casaceli) (originally presented December 8, 2022)  
When this well-known American Latino muralist was chosen by a juried panel to paint a mural in Birmingham’s new Post Office in 1942, little did he expect that the project would ignite a small but fierce protest in some locals. His depiction of Birmingham area pioneers was seen by some as objectionable, and by others as totally appropriate. Donna Casaceli will discuss Lopez and his controversial mural that still exists in downtown Birmingham.

Yamasaki2 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.

1898 George and Eliza Taylor sketch 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.

Morris Levinson c1880sThe 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.

Walking Tours

Guided Tours of our Historic Hunter House  
HH Adult BR-1Hunter House with Front GateWith general admission to our changing exhibit at the Allen House, visitors are entitled to a guided tour of the 1822 John West Hunter House-the oldest house in Oakland County, and one of the oldest intact dwellings in all of Michigan. The Hunter House was also the first frame house built in the wilderness of Oakland County using an unusual building style, which visitors can see through an exposure window inside the wall of the house. The interior is furnished with antiques from its occupation periods--from pioneer days through the 1920s when local architect Wallace Frost was hired to renovate the parlor and dining room. Visitors can also see interior painted finishes that were recently changed to reflect a more accurate color scheme based on an analysis of the historic colors, bringing the 200-year old building to life.  The image at left shows the orange-pumpkin color that was discovered as the earliest color used on the bedroom trim work.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side of Birmingham's History  
Eco City Street REv1939  from Archit Survey of Bham booklet Maple and Woodward Street SignBirmingham is a walkable city, and visitors and citizens alike enjoy pedestrian activities any time of year, and whether or not there is a public health reason to be outdoors. Check out these local walking (and driving) tours for an immersive experience in one of the great historic themes that makes such an excursion a true delight. Downloadable maps can be printed and taken along, or stop by the museum for printed brochures and additional information. You just might be amazed!

Themed Self-Guided Tours of Greenwood Cemetery 
Greenwood Gate
The Greenwood Cemetery is one of Birmingham's historic treasures.  Founded in 1825 after a grisly murder in the settlement of what is now called Birmingham, the cemetery has been the resting place of many of Birmingham's citizens ever since.  The pleasant setting with shady trees is full of local history; the oldest 1/2 acre section was donated by early settler Dr. Ziba Swan.  This article explains more about the origins of Greenwood Cemetery. Greenwood Cemetery is on Oak Street, west of N. Old Woodward.  The main entrance gate is the east gate. Three new printable 2-page walking tours are now available to take with you next time you wander the grounds.

Polly Utter's grave markerGreenwood Cemetery General Markers"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. 

Birmingham Women's History Walking Tour
Gitel Levinson Birmingham women have made their mark on the town and actively participated in politics even before the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  From the pioneer period of Birmingham's settlement to the first women rock critics at 1970s Creem Magazine, this tour features twelve amazing women who shaped their worlds and the various buildings associated with their stories. Download the brochure to learn more. (Photo, c.1880s;  Gitel Levinson, first Jewish woman resident of Birmingham, courtesy Carl Levin) 

Marshall Fredericks Walking/Driving Tour
Freedom of the Human SpiritFamous 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 TheaterBirmingham 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.


App Image Birmingham MuseumFour Different Greenwood Cemetery Tours Now on Museum App! 
Visitors to Greenwood Cemetery have a new way to experience the beautiful historic setting with the museum's free Android and Apple tour app. Just search The Birmingham Museum in the app store and find the tours at your fingertips the next time you walk the cemetery. 

Greenwood Cemetery General MarkersThe 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.

Allen Family Study circa nineteen thirty-twoBut 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 
App Homepage Image The museum is introducing a fun way to learn more about local history with its new free app, available at the appstore for both Apple and Android devices (search 'The Birmingham Museum').  

Allen Family Study circa nineteen thirty-twoVisitors 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.