July 17, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Detroit Historical Society celebrates $21.2M fundraising haul

A 1963 Ford Mustang II is on display at the Detroit Historical Museum, which received $21.2 million in donations in its fundraising campaign. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit — Free admission and six new exhibits are just some of the benefits of a five-year fundraising campaign that accrued $21.2 million in donations for the Detroit Historical Museum.

The total exceeded the goal of $20 million set in July 2009.

The museum announced its successful campaign at a Thursday press conference on its Legends Plaza entrance fronting Woodward.

“There’s no great cities without great museums,” said David A. Nicholson, vice president of PVS Chemicals and a member of the Detroit Historical Society’s board of trustees.

Society president Thomas Buhl said the fundraising campaign was “hard work,” but added the work of the museum is important because “it defines who we were and who we’ll be in the future.”

Money from the campaign has been used to make improvements to the museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle, including:

■Six new permanent exhibits, including the Kid Rock Music Lab, Allesee Gallery of Culture (at the Detroit Historical Museum) and Built by the River (Dossin).

■Free admission for the historical museum and Dossin, which will allow both to reach a broader diversity of visitors.

■Opened the Legends Plaza outdoor exhibit at the historical museum.

■Enhanced eight permanent signature exhibits at both museums, including Old Detroit, America’s Motor City and the William Clay Ford Pilot House.

■Digitized tens of thousands of artifacts from the society’s collection, making them available online to students and scholars around the world.

As part of the ceremonies, the historical museum inducted four into its Legends Plaza, where the signatures and hand prints of 29 Detroiters and Michiganians have been marked in concrete.

This year’s inductees were Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton, former Supreme Mary Wilson, artist and songwriter Allee Willis and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) broadcaster Bill Bonds.

None of the inductees was able to attend the event.

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