Summer Hours:
Tuesday-Friday 11:00am -4:00pm
Saturday 10:00am-2:00pm

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:

Current Museum Exhibits

The History of Michigan Newspapers 1809-2009 – New!

If, as it has been said, that journalism is the first draft of history, then newspapers are the original history books. Americans, then and now, learned about their world, exercised their democratic rights, discovered what was happening in their community, and planned their weekly shopping trips all from the same source at the same time. And when the headlines faded from memory, it was the historians who continued to value and use these newspapers for their own purposes.

This informative exhibit on loan from the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University will be featured in the Norbert Gits Family Gallery with additions from the LHS collection highlighting local newspapers and printing press artifacts from the Leelanau Peninsula. Opens on march 1st, 2023.

Make a stop at the research desk to explore first-hand the eleven digitized titles of local newspapers and more, available through CMU’s Digital Michigan newspaper portal. The digitization of newspapers featuring Leelanau County, MI history has been an ongoing project of the Leelanau Historical Society since 2017. This project has been made possible through generous donations by LHS donors and community members (Thank You!). Learn tips and tricks for searching this free resource and have fun taking a step back in time!

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. New artifacts added periodically. Have Sugar Loaf memorabilia, or stories to contribute?
Fill out this survey: 

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 – Reprise

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 Passage

The 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.

Historic 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

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
-Life on South Manitou Island: Now on display in various spots on South Manitou Island part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
-You Are Here: Maps & Roads of Leelanau: Featured maps now on display in the LHS Research Center. 

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