Arts, Culture & Heritage
A fascinating mixture of agricultural, maritime, industrial and high-tech influences contribute to Northeast Michigan’s cultural heritage. A history of logging and agriculture, fishermen and sailors, high-tech visionaries and ambitious entrepreneurs have shaped the landscape of our community.
The area’s cultural and historical character was also formed by a unique amalgamation of maritime, agricultural and industrial influences. The past melds with the future as the community boasts two live theaters, two art galleries, two museum heritage centers, and vibrant live music scene. Enjoy a day or a month exploring the Alpena area’s art, culture, and heritage.
Special collections: Genealogy, Best-Sellers, Large-Print, Audios, Videos, CD-Roms, Internet, Word Processors, 12 Newspapers/ 242 Magazines. Largest collection of 19th century Great Lakes ship photographs and records in the entire world! Authors in the Fall and Children’s Book Club.
The A.S.O. is North East Michigan’s only orchestra. It was founded in 2004 to give both players and listeners in the area a chance to appreciate, participate, and enjoy classical music. The priority of the Alpena Symphony Orchestra is to share the beauty of orchestral music with the residents of Alpena and the surrounding communities. The ASO season runs from May – December, and includes three full orchestral concerts and two small ensemble concerts. For concert dates or more information, see their web site.
Art in the Loft at Gallery 109 is a fine arts gallery featuring the work of local, regional and nationally recognized artists. Reasonably priced artwork is available in a wide range of media. Artists staff the gallery and apply their techniques in demonstrations and workshops. Visitors are welcome to observe and participate and a variety of special events are featured. Art In The Loft is open for two primary exhibit seasons, Summerview Season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and Winterview Season, which runs from mid-November until the end of January. A month-long Young Artists exhibit is held during the months of April and May. Call ahead or see web site for firm dates. Art in the Loft at Gallery 109 is located in the Center Building, 109 North Second Ave.
Northeast Michigan’s Center for Art, History, and Science.
ART: The Museum has an extensive collection of art that cannot be found any where else in Northeast Michigan, with works of art from Michigan artists such as Tom Moran to world renowned artists like Cezanne, Renoir, Dali, Picasso and Chihuly.
HISTORY: Dig for Devonian fossils in the Lafarge Fossil Park and keep all the fossils you find. Stroll through the Museum’s replica of an 1890’s Avenue of Shops. Explore the lumbering and farming history of Northeast Michigan. Visit the Peoples of Lakes and Forest Gallery, which houses a variety of Prehistoric and Native American artifacts unique to this region. Take time to explore the historic buildings on the Museum’s campus.
Science: See the Foucault Pendulum which gives visual proof the the Earth is rotating while demonstrating Newton’s Law of Motion. The only Planetarium in Northeast Michigan, the Besser Museum Sky Theater, is open every Saturday at 2 p.m. Visit and Shop the Museum Gift Store.
HOURS: Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ADMISSION: Adults $5.00, Senior & Child $3.00.
Brush Creek Mill was constructed on a site where previous mills once stood. Built on the banks of the Thunder Bay River, it was named for Brush Creek, which meets the river, flowing from Atlanta to Alpena. The mill demonstrates the power of moving water with a 22’ stainless steel water wheel, capable of grinding corn and wheat. The mill features a museum, meeting room/classroom and gift store featuring handmade crafts made by local artists and crafters. A wide variety of classes are offered including jewelry making, acrylic painting, fly tying, computer classes and more. The mill is open Memorial Day through mid-October. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 am – 3 pm and Sundays noon until 3 pm. Closed on Mondays. Tours are available for groups.
The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary preserves a national treasure, nearly 200 historic shipwrecks in and around the bay. Lake Huron’s cold, fresh water preserves many of these shipwrecks intact and in water depths ranging from a few inches to 200 feet, making the sanctuary a popular destination for divers, snorkelers and kayakers. You can explore the history and archaeology of these wrecks at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the Sanctuary’s 20,000 square foot river front headquarters. Exhibits on Great Lakes maritime history and shipwrecks include the new “Exploring the Shipwreck Century” exhibit, a 9,000 square ft. permanent exhibit where visitors can experience elements of a traditional maritime museum combined with a hands-on discovery center featuring life-sized recreations of an historic Great Lakes schooner and shipwreck sites, artifact displays, and interactive learning stations on technology and diving. Also featuring a sanctuary store, state of the art education spaces, high-definition theater, and archaeological conservation lab, the admission-free Center is a great destination and the best place to begin exploring Thunder Bay. Please call for current hours of operation. Wreck locations are available on our web site. While visiting Alpena, you may also want to explore the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection, one of the largest archival collections of Great Lakes maritime history in existence, located at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library. Please call for hours.
The only year-round live theater in Northern Michigan. Located in a historic building in “Old Town” Alpena, the theatre provides a year-round schedule of programs, including mainstage productions, in-house and touring children’s shows and drama workshops. The theatre is committed to entertaining its audiences with high-quality productions, utilizing its resident professional company, augmented by community talent. Call the box office for up-to-date show information. Handicap accessible.