The exhibit museum logo

The Exhibit Museum of Natural History stands proudly opposite the Chemistry Building on North University (just where it takes the bend towards parallelism with Washtenaw Avenue. Perhaps one should say, rather, the twin lion (panther?) statues flanking the imposing main doors stand proudly. The interior is architecturally fine, and modest yet effective in content.

The museum building, called the Museums Annex, is proposed in 2014 to be torn down to build a new biology building.

As you enter, the coatroom is to your right, drinking fountain also to your right, and gift shop to your left. Cabinets on the left contain small "get-you-thinking" exhibits. The main museum comprises the second, third, and fourth floors. Floor two has those rascally fossil skeletons! The mammoth (or is it mastodon? Somebody correct me on this) is the newest acquisition; noteworthy is also the Deinonychus skeleton in the far left corner of the room, purchased piecemeal through donations from the community. The whale evolution segment (on the right, halfway down the hall) is a modern (mid-1990s) addition of interest to anyone game enough to walk in the door. Older dioramas of zoological ages, reminiscent of what seems like an age past in museum history(!) lend color to a side room to your right early in the hall. The mural along the far wall is an exercise in historiography: the mural of several dinosaur and plant species dates from the mid-1950s, and reflects now-outdated ideas of the musculature and posture, and even social lives, of several species. A row of slides along the bas-relief skeletons that inspired the mural explains the changes in scientific thinking, and shows a sketch for how the same mural might be painted today.

Floor three has lots of dead animals: stuffed birds, mammals, and amphibians native to Michigan. Yes, there's a wolverine, but with the caveat that wolverines were in fact extinct in Michigan long before the University was founded, and that this particular specimen was not a resident of our state! These are also mostly presented in dioramas of their potential native environments.

Coming off the stairs onto floor four you will see cultural dioramas of various Native American cultures, and may feel a frisson of guilty political-incorrectness ;-) The Exhibit Museum Planetarium resides on floor four, along with a geology/gems section and more cultural artifacts.

All in all, the Exhibit Museum of Natural History is undeniably outdated, but charming still and far from obsolete.