Flint, MI—After almost five years of planning and construction, the Sloan Museum of Discovery will reopen to the public on July 16, 2022.

The hands-on learning museum originally opened in 1966 as the Sloan Panorama of Transportation, named after long-time General Motors President, Chairman, and CEO Alfred P. Sloan.

It closed in 2018 to begin a $30-million renovation, funded through grants and donations from foundations, businesses, the state government, and individuals—many of whom attended the museum’s July 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Todd Slisher (center left), executive director of Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium, prepares to cut the opening ribbon of the newly renovated Sloan Museum of Discovery with the help of board members, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, and major donors to the project on July 14, 2022. (Kate Stockrahm | Flint Beat)

“This is exciting,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, one of the major contributors to the renovation effort, during the event. “We’re no longer ‘sleepy Sloan.’ We’re looking to the future.”

The newly-completed renovation nearly doubles the size of the museum to 107,000 square feet, which houses four science, history, and hands-on learning exhibits as well as a gift shop, Coffee Beanery Café, and multiple classroom and event spaces.

“It’s all new,” said Todd Slisher, the executive director of Sloan and Longway Planetarium. “In fact, we only used the exterior walls and the foundations and the floors of the old building. We even ripped the roof off.”

Slisher added that the newness didn’t stop at the building’s structure.

“Particularly what you didn’t see in the old Sloan is we have a great big new hands-on science gallery called Discovery Hall. It’s a very interactive place with lots of hands-on science exhibits,” Slisher said.

The museum also has an early childhood gallery called Hagerman Street for children six years old or younger. It’s set up like a city street with different businesses for youth to venture in and out of.

Youth explore the Hagerman Street Market within the early childhood gallery of the Sloan Museum of Discovery in Flint, Mich. The museum has been undergoing renovations since 2018 and officially opens to the public on July 16, 2022. (Kate Stockrahm | Flint Beat)

“And then the history galleries are all new as well,” Slisher said. “So we did kind of a new reinterpretation of Flint and Genesee County history.”

Slisher said the former iteration of the Sloan Museum did “a really good job of telling the car story” but in the updated Sloan, they wanted to focus on the surrounding community’s story, too.

“We wanted to get into more stories—stories about the community, about the people that live here, anywhere from Native Americans to current day,” Slisher said.

A current exhibit in the History Gallery of the newly-renovated Sloan Museum of Discovery in Flint, Mich. The museum is set to reopen on July 16, 2022. (Kate Stockrahm | Flint Beat)

As promised in a March preview tour, the museum’s final design has a focus on inclusivity, from varied table heights for wheelchair users to malleable exhibit spaces in order to continue building on Flint residents’ stories.

“We have been extremely mindful to make galleries inclusive and flexible so that displays can change frequently,” said Geoff Woodcox, the museum’s collections curator.

The Sloan Museum of Discovery will reopen on July 16 at 10 a.m. with timed ticket entry for the weekend.

General entry to the museum is free for Genesee County residents due to the Genesee County Arts Education and Cultural Enrichment Millage.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....