The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - September 3, 1996 - 7D
In the classic tradition
Michigan Theater offers rich atmosphere
By Megan Sohimpf
Daily NSE Editor
When you first step into the entrance of the Michi-
gan Theater, take a glance around and prepare to be
The lobby contains two grand staircases, elegant car-
peting, mirrored walls and a gilded, gold polychrome,
The regality of the theater does not end in the inner
lobby - the amphitheater presents even more for the
eye to take in.
The theater itself seats 1,700 people, is 55 feet tall
and has over 3,000 lights.
As the organ platform rises and the spotlight shines,
the sounds of organ music fill the air before each week-
end show. The Barton organ, one of the only of its kind
still in working order, was in fact instrumental in pre-
serving the entire theater.
The theater opened as a silent movie palace and
vaudeville house on Jan. 5, 1928. Later, with the intro-
duction of "talkies," films became the theater's main
In the 1920s, the movie was the dominant medium.
"Back when the Michigan Theater was built, it was
a state of the art medium source of the time," said Rus-
sell Collins, executive director for the theater.
There are few places left with that cinematic
Stone discusses beliefs
Acclaimed director Oliver Stone speaks at Hill Auditorium last March.
Stone, whose films include "Platoon" and "JFK," discussed media hype,
the tendency to elaborate on history and questioning authority.
Ywait near by to' be
"The Michigan Theater is the perfect place to see a
film," Collins said. ,
When the longtime ownership contract expired in the
late 1.970s, organ buffs helped to ensure the theater
remained - if not as a showcase for the cinema, at
least for the organ.
The organ contains its original innerworkings, which
operate by pushing air through the organ.
Over the years, this historical landmark of Ann Arbor
- restored most recently in 1986-- has housed some
of the most famous entertainers of all time, including
Bela Lugosi, Ethel Barrymore and Louis Armstrong.
The history of the theater is evident in almost every
detail and decoration. The series of historical pho-
tographs in the lobby was assembled a few years ago
for a tour of the League of Historical American Theater.
Working as a not-for-profit organization, The Michi-
gan Theater Foundation is dedicated to
the preservation of the architecture and
presenting the arts to the community. The Mi
"We spend a lot of time and effort to Theatei
cultivate appreciation of things cine-
matic," Collins said. 603 E. Liber
The theater's mission is to broaden Office:(313
that appreciation. Info: (313) 6
"The movies shown here speak to http://www
expression, art and quality," Collins com/mt/
said. "You're not going find too many Ticket prices
places like the Michigan Theater in the General adm
entire country." Students: $5
And local arts organization agree. Members: $1
The Michigan Theater recently won the To become a
1996 Annie Award for Excellence in 668-8397, e
Service to the Arts. The award, pre-
sented by the Washtenaw Council for the Arts, serves
to stimulate new arts activities and increase communi-
ty involvement in the arts.
The Michigan Theater was also voted the "Best
Place to See a Movie" in a survey done by Current
Entertainment Monthly magazine.
The Michigan Theater, located at 603 E. Liberty St., beckons to all movie lovers. The restored classic theater
also offers special events, Including concerts and poetry readings, throughout the year.
Both the Michigan and the State theaters - located Keeping with its tradition as a classic movie house,
down Liberty Street from each other - began as clas- the main bulk of the Michigan Theater's shows are
sic cinematic palaces. But, in time, the State Theater movies. With the exception of a few big Hollywood
remodeled its first floor into commercial retail space. blockbusters - "Jurassic Park," "Raiders of the Lost
Audiences now watch movies from the
"The Michigan Theater remains
intact as a performing arts theater --
the way it was originally designed,"
But, the change was necessary to be
a commercially profitable venture.
"To preserve the historical architec-
ture and maintain the architecture for
the purpose for which it was originally
intended requires operating as a not-for-
Ark," and "Pocohantas," for example -
this theater is dedicated more toward
independent and foreign films. This
summer, "Cold Comfort Farm" and
"Stealing Beauty," among others,
graced its towering screen.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is held
each March at the Michigan Theater.
Each year, the theater works with the
The Michigan The-
ater shows films
days a year. But it does
By Megan Schimpf
Daily NSE Editor
Ever been to the Kelsey Museum of
Archeology? The Exhibit Museum?
Maybe not, but without knowing it,
most students walk by these buildings
and other museums on campus -
Oithout knowing what they rush by.
Inside is a world to be discovered.
"Too many people who come to the
Arb don't see the trees. They see the for-
est as a refuge to get away" said Nichols
Arboretum curator Guy Smith.
The University's tvo "living" muse-
ums, Nichols Arboretum - popularly
referred to as the "Arb" - and the
Matthaei Botanical Gardens, join the
elsey Museum of Archeology, the
xhibit Museum of Natural History and
the Museum of Art.
The Exhibit Museum of Natural His-
tory, Jocated at 1109 Geddes Ave,.,
includes more than 6,000 objects, ranging
from rocks and minerals to taxidermic
biological specimens to the museum's
major draw - dinosaurs.
Daniel Madaj, an administrative asso-
ciate, said the paleontological giants
draw people of all ages to the museum.
e University has the largest collection
Sdisplayed dinosaurs in the state,
including a Tyrannosaurus Rex and an
"They look a little like the family dog,
but on such a humongous scale," Madaj
said. "It's almost like seeing a large dog,
only 10 stories tall."
The Exhibit Museum is located with-
in the Alexander G. Ruthven Museums
ilding, which also houses staff
ices, the Museum of Paleontology,
c Museum of Anthropology and the
Museum of Zoology. The building,
designed by Albert Kuhn, is on the
National Registry of Historical Places.
The Exhibit Museum also includes a
planetarium, located on the fourth floor
of the building. There are usually two dif-
ferent shows scheduled in the planetari-
um, and most are star talks.
"It's a way to tell people about the stars
d the solar system and the interesting
ings in the night sky" Madaj said.
Many University classes, including
biology, School of Natural Resources
and architecture students, come to the
museum. But the museum holds educa-
tional-value for all. Admission is free.
"College students might discover an
interest in paleontology or natural histo-
ry' Guy Smith said. "Our mission to the
University community and the people of
southeast Michigan is to try to find a
way to make ourselves interesting and
available to everyone, including Univer-
sity students - to provide people a
place to learn natural history, Michigan
natural history and more generally the
country and world."
riches - it's also going in the homes of
the less wealthy, and getting a better
sense of what the actual life of the times
was, instead of the wealth and corpu-
lence of nobility."
University Prof. Francis Kelsey found-
ed the museum in 1893. The collection
has grown since then through donations,
benefactors and purchases.
There is no admission fee.
The land for the Arb was dedicated in
1907 as a refuge for students.
"It was basically established for edu-
cational and research purposes to bene-
fit the students of the world - not just
of Ann Arbor and U-M, but everyone,"
Guy Smith said.
The Arb contains 450 different trees
and shrubs. About half are native to North
America, while the others were imported
from primarily Europe and Asia.
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens con-
tain more than 350 acres about five
miles east of campus. In addition to
research facilities, there is also a multi-
habitat greenhouse. The gardens also
have three outdoor trails through prairie,
forest and marshland.
The gardens are open to the public,
with a $1 admission charge.
68-8397 not sit dark and silent for the remain-
8-8480 ing 65 days. Live concerts and events
ir'hthater. fill the stage to entertain audiences.
Many bands have had their starts
here, including The Police, R.E.M.,
sion: $6 K.D. Lang, Red Hot Chili Peppers and
Phish. Other accomplished artists who
have performed here include Bob
nember: Call Dylan and renowned jazz artist Wyn-
25 ton Marsalis.
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orches-
tra also performs at the Michigan Theater.
However, every year the theater gets back to its roots,
showing a six-show silent film series. Titles in the past
have included: "Nosferatu," "Greed," and "Metropolis."
"The silent film is a separate art form in itself,"
Welcome to Michigan program and
shows free movies to students. This
year, the selections are "Casablanca"
and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
elCollin The theater can also be rented. While
community groups and music promot-
e director ers are the most common renters, the
grand lobby has also been the site of
weddings and private parties.
Admission prices for Michigan Theater-sponsored
films are $6 for general admission; $5 for students,
senior citizens and children under 12 years of age; and
$4 for Michigan Theater members.
Members receive a monthly calendar, discounts on
tickets to many Michigan Theater-sponsored events and
free parking. The cost to become a member is $35.
Coming to the Michigan Theater --including gazing
around at the architecture - is an experience all stu-
dents should have before they graduate, Collins said.
"To miss out on coming to a show at the Michigan
Theater is like not noticing they paint the rock every now
and while," he said. "We've been part of campus life for
about 70 years now and there are lots of legendary tales
about student escapades in the Michigan Theater."
- Daily Arts Writer Gabe Smith contributed to this
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