Every once in a while someone tries to enter the Carnegie Center of Port Huron Museum from its historic entrance on Sixth Street.
It only takes a few moments to realize that it is at the back of the parking lot and not at the old front of the library. But Andrew Kercher, the museum’s community engagement manager, said he always appreciates the confusion when it happens.
“Because it tells me you’ve never been here,” he said.
Now he and other museum officials are hoping for more of that – or at least the part about welcoming first-time visitors – when the museum’s regular season kicks off this weekend with free admission to its websites.
Earlier this year, the Port Huron City Council approved $50,000 in general funds for free admission to the Carnegie Center, Huron Lightship and Thomas Edison Depot, all of which are museum sites owned by the city. The one-year arrangement begins on Saturday.
“We hope to welcome many tourists this summer, as well as give our local residents a chance to come see our shared cultural heritage at the sites,” Kercher said in a separate statement. “If you haven’t been to museums, this season is a great opportunity to stop and see history in your own backyard.”
But while the museum emphasizes free admission to all sites, including the grounds around the Fort Gratiot lighthouse, there are a few exceptions. The lighthouse is on St. Clair County property, and the cost of admission remains for tours of the lighthouse itself and the keeper’s duplex.
There is also a fee to visit the Discovery City children’s exhibit in the Carnegie, where Kercher said there are nearly ‘north of 7,000‘ children who have visited since the exhibit opened last September. .
Originally intended to stay for a few months, the museum recently announced that Discovery City would stay until March 31, 2023, due to interest.
“Between regular sessions, scheduled birthday parties, and our popular Wednesday morning make-up and activity days,” Kercher said earlier this month, “there are very few times the Carnegie Museum doesn’t does not resonate with the sounds of children who manage to discover a real interactive museum.”
When Port Huron officials approved free admission to local museum sites, they outlined goals to make them more accessible to residents, as well as to encourage tourists to extend their stay.
Kercher did not quantify the increase in attendance that can be expected, but he said they are still preparing for more. That means hiring more volunteers, he said, and hiring a new staff member at the start of the week.
“We have a new dedicated program director,” he said.
In addition to the Discovery City expansion, the Carnegie will see a new local art exhibit titled “Perspectives,” opening in April. Visitors to the lighthouse, he said, will also see a newly restored lantern room and repaired and replaced Grand Trunk car components at the depot.
Visitors can also get a new look at the Huron lightship since flood damage closed the museum site until major repairs were completed last year.
Tours to the lighthouse are $10 for individuals and $25 for families. An ongoing grant from the James C. Acheson Foundation also funds the admission of eligible families with an EBT or Bridge card to Discovery City; otherwise, admission to this exhibit is $5 per child.
Spring hours through Memorial Day are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Lighthouse, Lightship, and Depot Museum and the same time Wednesday through Sunday at the Carnegie Center before hours. become daily until mid-September.
For more information, visit www.phmuseum.org.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.