Have you ever heard the old expression, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”? We’re not normally so downbeat, but it’s hard to argue that a keen understanding of where we come from isn’t important. That’s where the Marquette Regional History Center comes in. It’s one of the U.P.’s most concentrated collections of historical artifacts, documents and general knowledge. Whether you have deep roots in the area or have never before set foot in Marquette County, this is a great resource for learning more about the heritage and history of this unique slice of the country.
According to its website, Marquette Regional History Center “not only maintains exhibits, artifacts and a research library, it is a forum for engaging the community and creating links between people.” That’s powerful stuff. Located in the heart of downtown Marquette, near the county courthouse, the Center is a distinctive, dome-shaped structure with a grand central space and exhibit halls, gathering spaces and offices on two main floors.
Aside from its distinctive silhouette on the Marquette skyline, the most permanent element of the MRHC is a permanent exhibit gallery that “highlights the unique history between man and the environment” in the U.P. There’s a faithfully recreated beaver pond ecosystem, a depiction of an underwater slice of Lake Superior, an old trading post, a firearm collection, depictions of native and early European housing, tributes to the immigrant groups that have made the U.P. unique, local inventions or innovations (like saunas and snowmobiles), and, of course, a recreation of a hockey fight, complete with mannequin players. Throughout the exhibit hall, you’ll find interactive touch-screens, short videos and other multimedia features.
MRHC is also regionally renowned for its rotating slate of special exhibits and periodic events. Seasonal exhibits tend to run for two or three months at a time, with the current event — “Celebrating Tourism and Recreation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” — arriving just in time for the summer tourist season. Recent exhibits include “Ma Bell,” a look at this early history of the telephone, and the upcoming “Victorianism in Upper Michigan,” an homage to the late 19th-century architectural style. There’s also a research library for serious history buffs and scholars. And, being a museum, there’s a gift shop with branded apparel, U.P.-centric knickknacks, local literature, art and more.
On the events front, MHRC generally sponsors at least one special experience per week. Many of these events, like the upcoming International Archaeology Day Family Fair, take place in the museum itself. But some, including weekly bus tours and monthly walking tours that take participants to various points of interest throughout Marquette and the surrounding communities, can’t be contained by the MRHC’s admittedly impressive structure. You can register and pay for these events on the museum’s website.
If you’re planning an upcoming event, consider renting out all or part of the MRHC. The second-floor gallery, nestled beneath the majestic dome, offers great views of downtown Marquette, the Lower Harbor, and the rolling hills on the opposite shore of Marquette’s bay. With a capacity of about 200, it’s perfect for weddings, retirement parties and other private events.
The Marquette Regional History Center is located at 145 W. Spring Street in downtown Marquette. It’s open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and is closed on Sunday and most holidays. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for students with ID, and $2 for kids 12 and under. For information about event booking, hours and other things, call (906) 226-3571.