Friday, December 9, 2011

Noel Night in Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center 2011

Apparently for the past 39 years, Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center has been ringing in the winter holiday season with something they call Noel Night. This is the first I and many of my friends had heard of it, but we were immediately won over by the promise of free admission to many of Detroit's museums, including the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Historical Museum, the latter of which I had been wanting to visit for some time.

This turned out to be a bigger deal than any of us had thought, which we realized when we ran into the roadblock on Woodward and were forced to turn a few blocks earlier than planned. Luckily, we quickly and easily found parking for $5, the night was not too cold, and there was no rain, as the weather report had predicted. (Good rule of thumb in Michigan: never put your faith in the weather report.) 

After picking up some drinks and a few bites to eat at Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes, we headed over to the Historical Museum. Inside the lobby is a gorgeous Meier clock and one of the earliest electric cars that still very much resembles a wagon. A good chunk of the museum is devoted to the history of the automobile and the auto industry, of course, but there is a lot more to it than just cars! 

In one hall, we came across period dancers who demonstrated dances of Detroit's early settlement days and talked a bit about the city's history. And in the basement are the Streets of Old Detroit, recreations of what the city looked like at different periods throughout history. Most of the replica shops were open and we were allowed to wander inside. They were also manned by people in costume answering questions and explaining what a lot of the antique items were and how to use them. 

The most fascinating to all of us, I think, was the old pharmacy from around 100 years ago (maybe more). The pharmacist behind the counter told us all about the antique cabinet behind him that was found with all of those drugs in their little glass bottles still inside it, and how they contained real drugs people used back in the day for all manner of ailments. He also explained that they didn't really do a lot of good, that most were so pure they could instantly  kill even the hardest drug addicts of today, and that they had to inventory each one for the government. Drugs like strychnine, cocaine, and opium.

There was also a recreation of an original Kresge five-and-dime store, what would later become Kmart. Did you know that Kmart started in Detroit? I had forgotten. This does explain why this region seems to be the only place left in America that still has those stores open. (Though I hear there is still a store in Chicago?)

From there, we headed to the Scarab Club, an exclusive art club founded in 1907 and housed in a beautiful old building not far from the DIA. The line was so long, however, and it didn't seem to be moving in the slightest, so we next stopped by the Science Museum, recently closed and opened back up for this one night only, where the line was even longer! So from there, we walked over to the DIA and enjoyed the final hour of the night perusing the Asian art that I missed on my last trip, and showing certain favorite spots to my roommate who had never before visited the DIA. (We will have to make a return trip soon so she can more thoroughly explore it.) 

On our walk back to the car, we passed by the front of the DIA along Woodward where we discovered a concert in the street and a line of ice sculptures quickly melting in the barely frigid air. Despite the closed roads and exorbitant amount of people and cars, we made our way back to the highway and home with ease, vowing that next year we'd arrive earlier with a better plan. One day, we will see the inside of the Scarab Club! Yarr!

Special thanks to Kimmy for the pics! My camera hates night shots.

1 comment:

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