History and Mission

History

More than 200,000 visitors flock to Cranbrook Institute of Science each year, making it one of the region’s best known museum of natural history.

Founded in 1904 by Detroit philanthropists George and Ellen Booth, Cranbrook is an internationally renowned center for art, education and science located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Cranbrook Institute of Science is an integral part of that community, having served area schoolchildren and families since its creation in 1930.

Institute of Science Timeline

1904: Cranbrook founders George and Ellen Scripps Booth purchase 140 acres of farm and dairy land north of Birmingham, Michigan.

1922: Brookside School for children opens and includes nature walks of Cranbrook in its curriculum.

1926: Mr. & Mrs. Booth impulsively purchase 277 minerals in Denver while on a trip.

1927: Cranbrook School for boys opens. The Booths establish the Cranbrook Foundation to support their dreams for Cranbrook. A 6-inch equatorial refractor telescope is purchased for installation at Cranbrook School.

1929: First natural history displays set up at the Museum Building (now known as the Academy of Art’s Administration Building).

1930: The telescope is moved permanently to the observatory in the new Institute of Science building on Sunset Hill.

1932: Cranbrook Foundation votes to establish Institute as separate legal entity.

1936: First Institute building exhibits.

1938: Dedication of Eliel Saarinen-designed Institute building.

1945: May 20, highest one-day attendance, 3,476; two-thirds of which was attendance at the Oakland Co. War Show held at the Cranbrook Pavilion (now known as St. Dunstan’s Playhouse).

1945: Dr. Margaret Mead, world-famous anthropologist, gives lecture on The Witch Theme in Balinese Life.

1950: Famous M.I.T. professor and inventor of high-speed photography, Dr. Harold E. Edgerton, gives lecture

1954: Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, lectures at the Institute.

1955: Cranbrook's Planetarium opens.

1968: Nature Center opens.

1973: The annual Maple Syrup Festival begins.

1974: Members’ field expedition to the Mayan ruin of Chichen Itza.

1977: Dr. Mary D. Leakey, world-renowned anthropologist, lectures at Cranbrook.

1980: Model Stegosaurus installed in front of the Institute to commemorate 50th anniversary of museum.

1981: Noted ornithologist and author Roger Tory Peterson lectures at Institute.

1983: 58th Cranbrook Institute of Science publication printed.

1987: Summer visitors flock to see Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!, a temporary exhibition of life-like prehistoric creatures.

1999: New Institute addition opens with all new exhibitions.

2006: Construction finishes on new West Entrance and parking structure.

Mission

Cranbrook Institute of Science is a natural history and science museum that fosters in its audiences a passion for understanding the world around them and a lifelong love of learning. Through its broadly based educational programs, its permanent and changing exhibits and its collections and research, the Institute develops a scientifically literate public able to cope with today's knowledge-based society. Moreover, Cranbrook Institute of Science generates the enthusiasm for learning about the natural world that will produce the scientists of tomorrow.