What’s New at Mackinac State Historic Parks?

Mackinac State Historic Parks’ sites open for the season May 1–3, bringing the debut of new exhibits, galleries, demonstrations and tours.

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac saw the most extensive work over the winter with the complete renovation of two spaces, the North Blockhouse and the Office.

The North Blockhouse will immerse visitors in a multimedia presentation allowing them to experience the confusion and fear of the British capture of Fort Mackinac on July 17, 1812. The Office, formerly known as the Post Headquarters, will feature two updated period settings and two completely new gallery spaces interpreting the training and duties of Fort Mackinac’s officers. 

Fort Mackinac will also offer updated walking tours, including “Women of the Fort,” “Fort Mackinac: 1780–1895” and a new Bayonet Demonstration. The Tea Room at Fort Mackinac, operated by Grand Hotel, will feature new menu items, and, as always, one of the most stunning views in Michigan. The fort also had physical updates—buildings painted, boardwalks replaced and chimneys repaired.

Canon firing demonstration at Fort Mackinac

Colonial Michilimackinac 

In the Soldiers Barracks, the Redcoats on the Frontier exhibit saw a complete overhaul of the kids’ interactive space. The new space will let visitors experience the lives of British soldiers in the 1770s. Try on uniforms of the 8th Regiment, sit at a mess table, climb into a communal bunk (two soldiers per bed!) and help a military interpreter clean their equipment or cook a meal.

“By touching, smelling, seeing and hearing a glimpse of the past, I hope our guests will come away with a better appreciation of what the people who lived here historically went through,” says Craig Wilson, curator of history for Mackinac State Historic Parks.

Every season, Colonial Michilimackinac interprets a new year of the American Revolution. This year, you’re stepping back in time to 1776 as the Revolution spread. A new program, “Michilimackinac 1776: First Strike,” will take place throughout the 2019 season. Additionally, Colonial Michilimackinac will serve as host to several themed weekends with topics ranging from gardens to trades to games. A full list of theme weekends can be found at mackinacparks.com.

Ziplining at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park

More Historic Sites

The Mackinac State Historic Parks’ archaeology program will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2019. Work will continue in House E of the Southeast Rowhouse at Colonial Michilimackinac. Archaeologists will be out daily (weather permitting) June 5 through August 24.

The exterior brickwork at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse received extensive restoration during the 2018 season, and work will continue in the second floor of the house throughout 2019. Experience fun and educational tower tours, the new science and technology exhibit, the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum and demonstrations of the Fog Signal Whistle.

Over at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, a new guided nature hike will take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. An updated Water Power Station will also debut during the season, and visitor’s can still experience the rush of the Adventure Tour.

The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum on Mackinac Island will celebrate its 10th anniversary. A new juried exhibition, “Visions of Mackinac,” opens May 2 and will be on display until October 6.

The season begins at Colonial Michilimackinac on May 1. Fort Mackinac and the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum open May 2. Historic Mill Creek and the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse open May 3.