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Birmingham Museum offering porch pop up

By Lisa Brody


With many locals still hunkering down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Birmingham Museum, 556 W. Maple Road, has gotten creative to invite people to the museum in a safe and healthy way with an “inside-out” approach each Friday afternoon from May through September.


“We realized we could take advantage of our large porch to do a historic ‘show and tell,’ with objects from our collection. People can wander up to see them while safely learning a thing or two about Birmingham’s history,” said museum director Leslie Pielack. “We think pedestrians and passers-by will get a kick out of stopping by off the sidewalk for a few minutes to see what we’ve come up with. And it’s free – all you need is your curiosity and your mask!”


The Birmingham Museum will make it fun, safe, and easy to get close to some cool artifacts and chat with staff. Porch pop up exhibits will take place every Friday from 1p.m. – 4 p.m..


Pielak noted that with the pandemic continuing to put pressure on public institutions, “sometimes you just have to meet halfway. In this case, 'halfway' is the ample front porch of the historic Allen House.”


Each month will have a theme, with different artifacts and stories each Friday. May’s theme is “The Museum’s Changing Landscape.”


“The community is often surprised to learn that there are a couple hundred years of history right here on our grounds,” Pielack said. “The Allen House was built on the site of the first brick school in Birmingham, and we can show visitors how to spot the walls of the original school in its façade.”


The Allen House was built in 1926, and is a repository of many fascinating stories.


To add something special, a different member of the Birmingham Museum Board will be on hand every Friday in May to answer visitor questions about the museum and to talk about the planned landscape restoration.


“Our board is passionate about Birmingham’s history and our plans for restoring the grounds,” said board chair Tina Krizanic, who will be at the porch pop up May 7. “We are excited to share the first phase of the project, which is due to start any day and will include improvements to the fencing, permanent museum signage, and the re-introduction of historically appropriate elm trees between the Allen and Hunter Houses.”


Krizanic said that when the Allens built their one-of-a-kind Dutch colonial house, the grounds were graced with mature elm trees. After being devastated by Dutch Elm disease during the last century, new disease-resistant varieties are now available that can once again bring the stately tree to the site where Birmingham’s first mayor and his family lived.


“The first phase of the project will be right where the public can best appreciate it,” said Krizanic. She added that a significant portion of the project was funded by an anonymous donation, and that future phases will offer other opportunities for the public to get involved. “This is a historic site, yes, but it is also a city-owned property that is held in the public trust. The museum grounds are for everyone to enjoy, whether that is in walking by and appreciating the beauty of the house, or in stopping to take in the natural setting next to the Rouge River trail. We encourage everyone to visit.”


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