Evidence Found: Explorations in Archaeology

2550231_300x300    nhc logo plain    WMU Logo

Evidence Found: Explorations in Archaeology shows visitors that when it comes to digging up the past, “It’s not what you find, but what you find out!” The exhibit displays artifacts and findings from archaeological excavations across Southwest Michigan, and provides fun, hands-on activities to learn about the methods used by archaeologists.

Logo - Evidence FoundArchaeology is the study of past human activities through the examination of evidence all around us. It can be found anywhere in the world, even southwest Michigan. This fascinating exhibit, to be featured at the Heritage Museum throughout 2017, was originally developed and debuted by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum with support from the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation. Artifacts from the collection of the Heritage Museum are displayed, as well as loans from the Western Michigan University Department of Anthropology and the Niles History Center/ Fort St. Joseph Museum.

Visitors to Evidence Found will step into the shoes of archaeologists while exploring amazing discoveries from Southwest Michigan. A large map is on loan from Western Michigan University’s Department of Anthropology, on which archaeologists used hundreds of pins to track their findings at specific sites around Kalamazoo over a twenty year period. Notable excavation sites are highlighted such as the Schilling and Dieffenderfer sites, which uncovered the activities of ancient and Late Woodland period Native Americans. The Shepard site near Battle Creek featured a homestead dating back to the 1830s. Artifacts are also displayed from the Ramptown site— an African American settlement in Cass County from about 1840-1890, with connections to abolitionism and the underground railroad.

An adjustable magnifying lamp allows a detailed examination of incredible artifacts from Fort St. Joseph, a French colonial settlement from the 1680s-1781 near present-day Niles. Other interactive opportunities in the exhibit include a dig pit, where visitors can gain some first-hand experience discovering artifacts through a sifting screen. In another section about Time Capsules, visitors are challenged to create a “Time Capsule in a Bottle” representing their own life. Evidence Found reminds visitors that the real value in archaeological artifacts is closely tied to the context in which they were found.

Evidence Found: Explorations in Archaeology will be on display March 1 through December 30, 2017. For more information, please call the Heritage Museum at 269-983-1191 or e-mail info@theheritagemcc.org.

Presidential Keepsakes: Local Collections from the 20th Century

PRESIDENTIAL KEEPSAKES LOGOThis display offers a glimpse at American political life in the 20th century as seen through the eyes of Southwest Michigan residents. Presidential keepsakes, campaign memorabilia, and patriotic personal treasures are all important parts of how we express our national identities. Includes selections from the Honorable Chester J. Byrns Presidential Signatures Collection and from the Monty Shepard Political Collection, among other interesting local keepsakes.

Lighting the Way: Fresnel Lenses from St. Joseph’s Lighthouses


The historical 4th and 5th Order Fresnel lenses from our St. Joseph lighthouses are restored, reunited, and on display at the Heritage Museum!
Fresnel lenses dramatically improved maritime safety and saved countless lives.  Before their invention, lights were equipped with several oil lamps and mirrored reflectors. Invented in 1822 by French physicist Augustin Fresnel, these new lenses projected light nearly 20 miles across the horizon.

St. Joseph is the only community in Michigan to have preserved two of its own Fresnel lenses.  The United States Coast Guard removed one of the historic lenses in 2003 and the other in 2012, replacing them with solar-powered, modern optics. Through an agreement to restore and display the Fresnel lenses, the Heritage Museum received both on long-term loan.

Come check out our exhibit entitled Lighting the Way: Fresnel Lenses from St. Joseph’s Lighthouses to learn more about the history of these important maritime artifacts.

The Big Three: Boat and Shipbuilding in Benton Harbor and St. JosephBenton-Harbors-Boat-Building-Industry-exhibit-photo-with-inside-of-hull-shot-300x225

Located in our Research Library, this exhibit features images from collections that were recently donated to the Heritage Museum. These photographs came to the museum in poor condition and the Heritage Museum’s staff spent five months carefully restoring them for preservation, research and display. The exhibit tells the story of the boatbuilding industry in the twin cities and includes the 1897 Truscott boat that was acquired by the Museum in the early 2000s.

On the Table: China Collections from The Heritage Museum

Located in our main level’s Shepard Hall, this exhibit features specifically chosen china from the Museum’s collections to highlight the local history of our Twin Cities, including industry, shipping, commercial fishing, tourism, religion, organizations, clubs, hotels and more. There is also a highlighted artifact on display of which information is unknown. Our hope is for the community to come see the exhibit and share any information they may remember, to give us a lead in researching it’s unique story. Museum Specialist, Jennifer Richmond-Ananbeh has also chosen some rarely seen artifacts that relate to these pieces. Come see the newest addition and tell us what your favorite piece is!