Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame moves to Okemos
Visitors to the Meridian Mall can now get a dash of history between picking up an outfit at H&M and grabbing a soft pretzel from Auntie Anne’s.
After nearly 30 years in the historic Cooley-Haze House on the southern edge of downtown Lansing, the Michigan Wo m e n ’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame made the move to the Okemos mall last month. And while the museum is still settling into its new space, it has already noticed some benefits.
“There has definitely been an increase in foot traffic,” said Caitlyn Perry Dial, the executive director for the museum “The very first week the museum opened, we broke the visitation record for a single month.”
The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame moved into the north wing of the Meridian Mall, just a few doors down from the Younker’s for Men’s, Home & Furniture store. Aside from better foot traffic, the move also means better accessibility and more room for new exhibits.
“In 2015, our board agreed it was time to look for a new location,” Dial said. “Our organization was outgrowing the Cooley- Haze house.”
The museum re-opened with two exhibits from the Cooley-Haze House, “Michigan Women A to Z” and “Ladies of the Lights,” but it is working on new exhibits that will open later this year. “Michigan Women A to Z” highlights Michigan women who were pioneers in various careers and in Michigan history, while “Ladies of the Lights” spotlights Michigan women in the U.S. Lighthouse services.
“These exhibits are only temporary, until the space is redesigned by the graphic designers,” Dial said. “The Hall of Fame is going to be completely re-envisioned. We are redesigning and reinterpreting this exhibit to focus on the inductees’ achievements.”
Dial said the biographies of the inductees, including Michigan luminaries like Rosa Parks, Diana Ross and Betty Ford, are all still available on the museum’s website, but the plan is to get a digital kiosk in the museum so people can look up the inductees and their bios. She said the front of the museum will feature the Hall of Fame, and when you walk farther in, past the gift shop area, there will eventually be an exhibit on women’s suffrage, since the 100th anniversary of Michigan’s ratification of Women’s Suffrage Amendment is coming up next year.
One corner of the museum is unofficially called the “Herstory Lab,” which will be an education area for children. There will be a chalkboard wall in that area, so visitors can write messages about what they learned.
“New things take time and money,” Dial said. “Since the move, we’ve had to hire new staff because we’re open more hours.”
The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame is already open to the public, but a grand re-opening is planned for June 10. The event will feature a ribbon-cutting, light refreshments and several speakers, including founding members of the organization and Michigan elected officials “We are waiting to do the official grand re-opening ceremony on June 10, because that will be the museum’s 30th anniversary,” Dial said. “That will also give us a couple weeks to work out the kinks.”
Grand Re-Opening and 30th Anniversary
Celebration Noon Saturday, June 10 FREE Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame (Inside Meridian Mall) 1982 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos (517) 763-2397, michiganwomenshalloffame.org