The Henry Ford Museum, located in Dearborn, Michigan, was created by Henry Ford to celebrate the United States and its history of innovation. It has been said that Henry Ford believed that the history that is normally taught in schools often overlooks human ingenuity and everyday life.
The Henry Ford Museum is a celebration of “great ideas”, and is an amazing immersive history experience that is less than 20 minutes from the city of Detroit. The intentional, thoughtful collections and exhibits allow visitors to experience different time periods and important eras in American history.
TIP 1: Plan to stay at least a day
We only had one day to visit the Henry Ford, so we divided our time pretty equally between the three parts. But, we would definitely recommend trying to visit the museum across 2 days if you can manage it.
INSIDER TIP: We were amazed at how many guests choose to only go to the Factory Tour. And while the factory tour is spectacular, you are missing out on the most amazing history experiences if you only stop there!
TIP 2: Get to the museum when it opens
A visit to the Henry Ford is a full day experience! When you get to the museum, take the shuttle to the Factory Tour first. The assembly line has a strict lunch timeline (usually shutting down assembly at 11:30), and you will want to visit the factory when the assembly line is in full swing! You can click here to see some scheduling tips about the Production Line.
For a one day visit, we recommend going to the Factory Tour, then Greenfield Village, and ending with the American Innovation Museum. We visited in the summer, on an average 85 degree sunny day, but even so…walking around Greenfield Village was hot. So ending the day in the air-conditioned museum felt so refreshing.
KID FAVORITE: The highlight of the Greenfield Village for my kids was definitely the Wright Brother’s Bike Shop. While it’s amazing in it’s own right, there was a spectacular historian who gave the most entertaining and exciting talk about the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford’s mission to save their historical shop and home.
KID TIP: L* wants me to tell everyone to make sure that they ask about Neil Armstrong’s visit to the museum and what he had in his pocket when he stepped on the moon when they visit the Bike Shop.
TIP 3: Plan your Visit Highlights
There is just so much to see in this museum. Using the Henry Ford’s “My Must See’s” tool to make sure you don’t leave without seeing something is a must.
I forgot about Thomas Edison’s alleged last breath that was bottled in the Museum of American Innovation. And I’m still bummed about that.
TIP 4: Check out the Ticketing Bundles for Savings
There are plenty of ticketing bundles listed on the website. We bought the Main Attractions ticketing bundle during our visit for our family (two adults and two children).
If you are staying for more than one day, then a membership is definitely a must. In fact, if you want to ride a Model T in Greenfield Village, then a membership is cheaper for a one day visit once you include the free parking even with a bundle.
There is a sticker shock factor for the price of admission, and my husband definitely gave me the “eyebrow eye” when we handed over our credit card. But, he’ll be the first to admit after our day at the Henry Ford was over…that it was a bargain.
TIP 5: Learn a bit of history before you go
I’m saying the mostly for children, but honestly there are so many amazing biographies and history books, that this advice applies to adults as well. The Henry Ford Museum also has amazing online collections and resources to read if you want to learn more about a topic.
I wish we had read some biographies with the kids about Henry Ford, The Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, or read some articles about the industrial revolution before going the museum.
The kids love history and knew a lot about different presidents and Civil Rights pioneers, but they were lacking in background knowledge about Edison and Jim Crow laws of the South. And these exhibits of the museum are some of the things my kids still talk about. I recommend using the My Must-Sees tool to plan your visit, and then finding books or podcasts to research some background knowledge too.
MOM TIP: The Henry Ford Museum does a great job in immersive history about segregation and the Civil Rights movement. One of the most remarkable exhibits has a courtroom that was segregated, and my kids could experience the “colored” section and the “whites only” section. It was amazing to see how my kids faces changed as they experienced the ways that Jim Crow laws were designed to give second-class citizenry to African Americans.
By far, The Henry Ford Museum is one of my favorite places that we have visited. With its vast collection, and opportunities for immersive learning, Henry Ford’s legacy of celebrating American History and Innovation is achieved!