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.
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.