From the President & CEO

In 2012, the Detroit Historical Society began a free admission policy at the Detroit Historical Museum, following a successful capital campaign and museum renovations. Although free admission was originally planned as a one-year celebration of the re-opening of the newly renovated museum, the policy has remained in place for seven. Beginning on November 1, 2019, we will return to a paid admission policy for the Detroit Historical Museum. General admission will be $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, students, active military and first responders (with valid ID), $6 for children and $35 for a household (up to 6 adults and children with the same address). Admission for all children under six years old and Detroit Historical Society members will continue to be free. For questions about admission, visit our F.A.Q.s page 

The return to paid admission coincides with the introduction of a revised membership structure for the Society. New membership offerings reflect how people “museum” today: options are available for individuals, couples and families, with enhanced benefits, including regular member tours, priority ticketing for special events and discounts in our museum stores and at neighborhood restaurants. Click here for a complete summary of the new membership program.   

We did not approach these changes lightly, and we want to make sure that we provide a best-in-class experience for our visitors and that we are accessible to all. To this end, I invite all residents of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park to sign up for our new Detroiter membership, available at no cost. Many other museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Detroit Institute of Arts, offer discounted admissions to local residents in recognition of their special relationship with these public institutions. We have created the Detroiter membership option out of respect for the special relationship that residents of the city have to the stories we tell and the artifacts that we safeguard on their behalf. Of course, Detroit residents are welcome to upgrade their membership to another level at any time or choose the option that works best for their families. To sign up for the Detroiter membership, visit the membership page on our website.  

By joining our peers in Detroit’s cultural district with a responsible admissions and membership program, we are taking a significant step toward a goal of becoming operationally self-sustaining within three years. As an independent nonprofit institution charged with the management and maintenance of Detroit’s historical museums and its collection of approximately 250,000 artifacts, we receive approximately 10 percent of our annual funding from the city of Detroit, which also retains ownership of our buildings and collection. Unlike most of our peers, the majority of the Society's funding comes from its members and generous private donors.    

Every year, we serve nearly 180,000 people at our museums, in addition to thousands more at off-site events. A more predictable income model will help us continue to develop the award-winning programs and exhibitions for which we are known, while also preserving Detroit’s treasures for future generations. Our Detroit 67 Project, launched in 2015 as a long-term effort to engage the Detroit community to make a meaningful commemoration of the tumultuous summer of 1967, collected over 500 oral histories from people with firsthand experiences with the events of 1967 and convened over 100 community partners. It resulted in the multi-award-winning Detroit 67: Perspectives exhibition, on display through May 2020. We found through visitor surveys that many people who came to see the exhibition had never visited the Detroit Historical Museum before.  

As the Society approaches its 100th anniversary in 2021, we have made a passionate commitment to undertake a truly historical reimagining of who we are and how we serve our community. We are sharpening the focus of our work using the lens of diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion to continue to create groundbreaking exhibitions and relevant, engaging programming.  

We are making investments to create best-in-class museums where all are welcome, represented and invited. We hope you will join us and ensure that ALL of Detroit’s stories can be found here.  

Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments.   

Warm regards, 




Elana Rugh 
President & CEO