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“Such a lost opportunity”

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Ranked #2 of 88 things to do in Ann Arbor
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Everyone gets creative in this interactive science and technology museum, featuring engaging exhibits in subjects like psychology, the media and health.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Such a lost opportunity”
Reviewed January 28, 2014

The Hands-on Museum was founded in the wake of the national sensation created by San Francisco's Exploratorium in the 1970s. While it calls itself a science museum, the Hands-on Museum falls woefully short of the standard set by the Exploratorium, and this in a town with one of the great research universities in the world.

There are precious few real opportunities to see physical, biological, and chemical scientific principles demonstrated. The demo guy upstairs with the cheesy white lab coat clearly didn't have a real grasp of his subject, or a meaningful and engaging demonstration to offer.

Many, and I mean MANY of the 'exhibits' are broken, varying from 'not working as intended' to completely dead. Why?

There are so many things that are just toys, some of them dating back to the museum's opening in 1978, that don't teach a darn thing, that don't engage children, that just flat out fall short. Yes, there are blinking lights and cranks to turn, but why? What are they learning? What is the lesson being taught? Good luck finding those.

Little kids will enjoy running around and will no doubt have their favorite places to play inside. That's because the Hands-on 'Museum' is really just a glorified play space with a science-ish theme.

They are long overdue (30+ years, to be more exact) to get in people from the university to really crank out some engaging SCIENCE exhibits that teach things. Until then, it's just Chuck-E-Cheese with a couple of motors and some blinking lights (the ones that still work).

Visited December 2013
3 Thank Peter S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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388 reviews from our community

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English first
Naperville, Illinois, United States
Level 6 Contributor
152 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“My son had a lot of fun….”
Reviewed January 6, 2014

We did a long weekend in the Ann Arbor/Dearborn area. My son had enough of The Henry Ford Museum and it was just cold enough to keep us from doing any outdoor activities. We had some time to kill before our dinner, so decided to give this a try. My son enjoyed the activities, it was very crowded, so there were wait times for some things. Nicely done overall, though the physical address opposite of the entry. They do post signs on various doors trying to direct one to the North side of the building, but both my wife and I (we consider ourselves fairly intelligent) were confused by the directions on the signs.

Visited December 2013
2 Thank Roy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Smart kids fun”
Reviewed December 6, 2013 via mobile

The Ann Arbor Hands on Museum is a great place for kids of all ages. The museum has a wide variety of exhibits and activities, covering a wide range of scientific concepts. Building/construction, medical technology, engineering, physics, optics, and much more is explored in a wide range of exhibits. For little kids, the preschool room is amazing - concepts are explored at their age level, and many of the "big kid" exhibits are scaled down for the younger set. Plus, there's a ball pit rollercoaster, which is pretty awesome. The gift shop is small but has an incredible collection of science-based toys for a variety of age groups. It's worth getting a membership if you think you'll be back - there are also reciprocal relationships to other science museums across the country.

Parking in Ann Arbor us notoriously difficult, so is recommend parking by the Kerrytown Farmers Market and walking down 5th St. to the museum's entrance on Ashley.

Visited November 2013
Thank CJSlatt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ann arbor, mi
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Everybody is having fun!”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

This is a top notch kids museum. We have been to many around the country and this is the best. And it really is "hands on"!
It has a great range of things to do for little ones to older ones.
Parking is near-by in the public parking garages (just google public parking in Ann Arbor), and plenty of places to eat within walking distance.

Visited October 2013
Thank mackswim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rockville, Maryland
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Perfect for children”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

I grew up going to this Hands-On Museum and I cannot recommend it enough! There is a good balance between fun activities and learning. It kept my interest for hours until I was about 10 or 11. They have activities for even very young kids to play with. What is better than a museum where nothing is off limits?

Visited December 2012
Thank Katherine S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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