About The Arab American National Museum
The Arab American National Museum (AANM) in Michigan is the first museum dedicated to documenting and sharing the history, culture and national heritage of Arab Americans.
From stories of Arab American immigration into the US to the diverse lives of Arab Americans from the first immigrants in the 19th century to the present day, the museum documents their impact on society through a combination of artefacts, items, multimedia presentations and information panels.
The Arab American National Museum history
The AANM, part of the Smithsonian Affiliation, opened in 2005 seeking to show visitors the Arab American story through a timeline dispelling misconceptions about Arab Americans. The AANM was an institution set up by ACCESS, the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the US which was founded in 1971.
The museum’s construction cost $15 million and was funded by Chrysler, the Rockefeller Foundation, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The building’s design emulated the domed top of Islamic mosques and featured a repetitive tile-patterned facade that mimicked the tile-work in Arab-style architecture.
The museum featured 3 permanent exhibits collected from individual or community donations: the first floor displayed the contributions of the Arab civilisation such as medicine, science, maths and architecture; the second looked at the Arab experience in America specifically; the third related to how Arab Americans have been portrayed in popular media and explored concerns over immigration.
The Arab American National Museum today
Today, the AANM has one of the most extensive archives of Arab American historical documents, oral histories and artefacts, and is the only museum in the US that seeks to collect Arab American art. The museum also works to create a safe space for open dialogue between communities in order to expand people’s knowledge of and appreciation for the Arab American community, their history and culture.
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm, visitors to the AANM can expect to see exhibitions of arm from the Arab world and American diaspora, with a permanent collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures and more from artists including Emily Jacir and Kamal Boullata.
Temporary exhibitions include ‘Al-Rabita Al Qalamiyya (The Pen League)’ which celebrates the centenary since the founding of the Pen League – a group of Arab American poets and writers.
Getting to The Arab American National Museum
For those driving, the AANM is located along the 12 road just off route 94, a 15 minute drive from Detroit and a 4 hour drive from Toronto (across the US-Canadian border). The closest bus stop is Michigan and Schaefer on the 2 Michigan and 261 or 41 Schaefer bus routes, just on the corner along from the museum.