U-M welcomes Ann Arbor Art Fair visitors as museums, galleries, gardens reopen to the public
ANN ARBOR—Like most annual events in the area, 2020 marked the first time in 61 years that the beloved Ann Arbor Art Fair was forced to cancel.
Recently lifted restrictions, however, will allow for art lovers to once again fill the streets of Ann Arbor for the AAAF, which runs July 15–17.
A Midwest tradition that draws close to half a million attendees over four days in July each year for browsing and shopping, it is the largest juried art fair in the nation. The AAAF comprises three independently juried, nonprofit art fairs that run consecutively: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original; Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair; and Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair. This year’s fair will feature nearly 1,000 artists and a footprint spanning 30 city blocks in downtown Ann Arbor, extending onto the University of Michigan’s campus.
The return of the 2021 AAAF coincides with the reopening of several U-M museums, galleries and other public spaces on campus, including the conservatory and display gardens at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
Though U-M welcomes art fair visitors back to campus, they are encouraged to plan ahead this year, as many of our public museums and spaces are still operating at limited capacity, requiring advance registration and health screenings upon arrival. This updated list offers information on COVID-19 protocols for recently reopened spaces.
The U-M Museum of Art (UMMA) is one of the oldest and largest university art museums in the country. Their collection comprises more than 21,000 works of art that span cultures, eras, and media. In addition to their permanent collection, UMMA hosts nearly 20 special exhibitions and over 100 events each year. Current exhibitions include:
- Unsettling Histories: Legacies Of Slavery And Colonialism offers a reinstallation of one of UMMA’s most prominent gallery spaces that forces them to grapple with their collection of European and American art, 1650–1850.
- In the Curriculum / Collection, curated in partnership with U-M Faculty, an incredible variety of U-M courses take material form.
- Sophie/Elsie is part of a series in which South African artist Mary Sibande (b. 1982) explores her family’s history.
- Pan-African Pulp: A Commission by Meleko Mokgosi explores the history of Pan-Africanism, the global movement to unite ethnic groups of sub-Saharan African descent.
Visitor information: UMMA, located at 525 S. State Street in Ann Arbor, recently opened to the public Thursdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday – Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors need to make a free reservation in advance and complete a health screening upon entering the building. Masks are optional for fully vaccinated individuals.
The U-M Kelsey Museum of Archaeology houses a collection of more than 100,000 ancient and medieval objects from the civilizations of the Mediterranean and the Near East. Among the objects on view is a colorfully painted Egyptian mummy coffin, magical amulets from the ancient Near East, an array of glass vessels, Greek pottery, a unique large-scale watercolor representation of the famous Villa of the Mysteries murals from ancient Pompeii, and more. View both the permanent galleries and special collections.
Visitor information: The Kelsey Museum, 434 S. State St., Ann Arbor, is free and open to the general public on designated gallery visitation days from 1– 4 p.m. (special hours for U-M community members include Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 1 – 11 a.m.).Visitors need to make a free reservation in advance and complete a health screening upon entering the building. Masks are optional for fully vaccinated individuals.
The U-M Museum of Natural History includes displays on prehistoric life (with the most extensive dinosaur exhibits in the state), Michigan wildlife, anthropology, geology and a digital planetarium. Explore both the permanent as well as the temporary exhibits including Evolution: Life Through Time, On the Trail of the Mastodons, Prehistoric Whales and more.
Visitor information: UMMNH, located at 1105 N. University Ave in Ann Arbor, will be starting with limited hours of Sundays and Fridays from 12 – 4 p.m. at reduced capacity. Additional hours will be added as time goes on. Admission for individuals and families is free, but museum visitors, regardless of age, must have a timed ticket reservation. Masks are optional for fully vaccinated individuals, but a health screening is required upon entry. Some activities and exhibit areas, including the planetarium and Dome Theater, are closed at this time.
The Stamps Gallery, operated by the U-M Stamps school of Art & Design, is an incubator and lab for contemporary artists and designers to explore ideas and projects that catalyze positive social change through exhibitions, publications and public programs that are lively, experimental and inclusive.
Their current exhibition, Halal Metropolis, explores the” facts, fictions, and imaginaries of the Muslim population(s) in Detroit and Southeast Michigan as viewed through historical research, documentation of current conditions and explorations of future desires.” It will be on view at the Stamps Gallery through July, 20.
Visitor Information: All visitors are encouraged to reserve time via Eventbrite prior to arrival, as this will help the gallery staff in their efforts to monitor occupancy levels and facilitate a safe and socially distanced viewing experience. Walk-ins are welcome, pending capacity limitations. The Stamps Gallery, located at 201 S. Division St. in downtown Ann Arbor, is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. A health screening is required upon arrival, and masks are required for individuals who are not vaccinated. More info on policies here.
The U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a 350-acre site that offers an indoor plant conservatory and greenhouse, and outdoor sites for research, display gardens, native plant gardens, natural areas and ongoing ecological restoration. The conservatory, gift shop, and display gardens at Matthaei—including the Gaffield Children’s Garden—are now open to the general public.
The trails and natural areas at both Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum remain open for public use, daily sunrise to sunset, but the visitor center at the Arb is closed.
Visitor Information/Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Matthaei is free and open to the public at 1800 N. Dixboro Rd. in Ann Arbor. Scheduled reservations are now available to the general public for the display gardens, conservatory, and interior spaces on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Visitor Information/Nichols Arboretum: The Nichols Arboretum is free and open to the public at 1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor. The Arboretum is open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset.
U-M’s public art collection is vast, with more than 100 works located throughout Central and North Campus. Highlights include:
Campus visitors will notice a “new face” greeting visitors at the U-M Museum of Art this year. Installed during the pandemic, in Nov. 2020, UMMA permanently installed a 25-foot-tall sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa of an elongated human head with hands covering both eyes, a monumental work signifying deep reflection.
“Behind the Walls” debuted in May 2019 at the inaugural Frieze Sculpture festival in Manhattan, where it was on view in Rockefeller Center. The work garnered international press and praise, with the New York Times calling it “the most instagrammed and photographed” work of the festival.
The sculpture was acquired through a gift from J. Ira and Nicki Harris, long-time university supporters. Ira is a 1959 U-M alumnus; he received an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2012.
Location: Central campus, In front of the U-M Museum of Art (525 S. State Street, Ann Arbor), next to the Frankel Family Wing entrance.
An artistic treasure on North Campus, Maya Lin’s Wave Field is a pure earth sculpture occupying a square space of 90′ x 90′ ft. and representing a naturally occurring wave pattern.
The work was designed and created by Maya Lin, an artist well known for creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC in addition to the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery Alabama. The Wave Field is also a memorial to Francois-Xavier Bagnoud (‘82 Aerospace Eng.), and gift of his mother, Countess Albina du Boisrouvray.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of The Wave Field is the way the appearance changes depending on the time of day. Different amounts of sunlight have the ability to alter the shadows the waves create and highlight new parts of this work of art.
Location: North Campus; Courtyard, Southeast side of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Building (1320 Beal Ave, Ann Arbor) .
After being closed for nearly two years as a part of the University Union renovation, The Cube, “Endover,” is now open to visitors.
The 1,800 pound Cor-Ten Steel Sculpture was a gift of the Class of 1965 and the artist, Tony Rosenthal, who was a U-M alumnus (‘36). Rosenthal was an American abstract sculptor widely known for his monumental public art sculptures, created over seven decades.
The Endover Cube is one of five similar cubes created by Rosenthal, the identical cube can be found standing in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. Although seemingly massive and immovable, the Cube actually rotates on its axis that is sunken into the ground, given a gentle push.
Location: Central campus; Regents Plaza, on the north side of the Michigan Union (503 Thompson St., Ann Arbor)
Arriving Home, a sculpture that was permanently installed during U-M’s 2017 bicentennial celebration and was acquired by the U-M President’s Advisory Committee on Public Art to recognize its 33,000 current staff members and those who came before them throughout the past 200 years.
Viewed close up when the sunlight is fully on it, the sculpture is awash in shimmering, iridescent colors. The colors, and where they appear, change with the amount and angle of sunlight and the viewpoint. That ever-changing appearance comes from the fluorescent, multicolored Lexan plastic panels specified by Oppenheim.
Location: Central campus; between the 1100 North University Building and Chemistry Building (930 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor).
Graduating students from U-M Social pose in front of the new mural on the corner of E. William and Maynard. Photo by Scott Soderberg, Michigan Photography.
The “Michigan Wings” mural was created by Kelsey Montague Montague, an artist known internationally for her murals that invite audience participation and irresistible Instagram photo opportunities. This particular work is part of her #whatliftsyou series.
The set of larger-than-life wings containing well-known Ann Arbor and U-M landmarks was completed in April 2018 at Tower Plaza, located right in the midst of the Ann Arbor Art Fair. The work was commissioned by the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor DDA, and Destination Ann Arbor.
Location: Corner of E. Williams St and Maynard St. in Downtown Ann Arbor at Tower Plaza (Tower Plaza (555 E. William St.).