Exhibits Open!

Winter Hours:
Wednesday-Friday 11:00am -4:00pm

Enjoy a variety of exhibits pertaining to the history of Leelanau County and its people. No appointment is necessary to view museum exhibits.

Admission is $5/person, Children (under 18) & Members are free. 

*Please note, if you are visiting to research your family and other local history topics, an appointment needs to be made in advance. Visit our Archives page to begin your research. Contact museum staff to make an in-person archives appointment: info@leelanauhistory.org

Current Museum Exhibits

Sugar Loaf – New!
A community curated exhibit. This prelude, that will evolve into a larger exhibition, currently features the European farmers who once lived off the land before the Sugar Loaf Winter Sports Cub came into existence in the 1940’s. Items from its conception, through the following decades during it’s hay-day are displayed. View what community members have collected and cherished from their connections to what was once Leelanau County’s largest employer and the region’s center for winter activities. 

You are Here: Maps and Roads of Leelanau

Maps tell a variety of stories of times gone by. This exhibit features over 20 maps of Leelanau County, printed between 1850 and the present. Come explore the history of the Leelanau Peninsula through these visual aids, from the first land surveys to geological and road maps to tourism maps. Learn about the early surveyors and the tools they used and how their work influenced early settlers and the development of the area.

Leelanau Weddings Through the Decades
Wedding dresses, accessories, photos, and love stories from 1860-1950.

Wild Ride on the Steamer Manitou
Can you imagine what it would be like to experience a Lake Michigan storm aboard an unsinkable luxury steamship in 1916, a mere four years after the sinking of the Titanic?

Lighthouses of Leelanau
Leelanau county once boasted five lighthouses and one lightship, each marking their own unique spot within the Manitou Passage, providing mariners with an aid to navigation prior to the advent of radar and sonar technology.

Wood Boats of Leelanau – Back by popular demand!
Vibrant color photos of the beautiful wooden power boats that left their wake in Leelanau’s lakes beginning in the 1910’s.

Great Lakes Fur Trade and the Voyageur
View the interpretation of a trapper’s cabin and learn about the first important economy of the Great Lakes region, the intrepid Voyageur, and the beaver.

Shipwrecks of the Manitou PassageThe exhibit illustrates the stories of the lost ships of the Manitou Passage, considered one of the most dangerous waterways in the Great Lakes.  Go beneath the waves and see the work of divers and archeologists, sharing a view of the past.

Traditional Anishinaabek Arts Room Our extensive collection of black ash baskets and quillwork from Leelanau’s Odawa and other Anishinaabek artists is on permanent display.  The collection, curated by Laura Quackenbush, is the result of more than 20 years of study, donations, purchases and work by staff and volunteers.

Leland – Through photographs, visitors see Leland of long ago, over the past 130 years.  Leland, first established in 1853 by Antoine Manseau and his family, developed into a manufacturing center with a sawmill, dam and the Leland Iron Works.  That era of industry faded toward the end of the nineteenth century and Leland gradually became a popular resort destination…as it is today!

For information on Leland’s Historic Fishtown, visit http://www.fishtownmi.org/

Virtual Exhibits

Retired Exhibits

On display at the Leelanau County Government Center (lower level):
8527 E. Government Center Dr., Suttons Bay MI 49682

When Winter was Winter
Life on North Manitou Island
Wreck of the Westmoreland

Retired Exhibit – Life on South Manitou Island: Now on display in various spots on South Manitou Island part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

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