Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Detroit’s Science Center Has New Name and New Operator; Hopes for Fall Reopening


by Joe Kleiman, IPM Online News Editor

Ambassador Ronald Weiser, a former Chair of the Michigan Republican Party and Trustee of The Henry Ford museum in nearby Flint, arranged with Citizens Bank of Flint to purchase the museum’s land, building, assets, and outstanding debt. 

Detroit, Mchigan, USA
Following the sudden closure of the Detroit Science Center a year ago (on Sept 26, 2011) due to “financial hardship,” things took a turn for the worse. Citizens Bank of Flint, its largest creditor, requested the Science Center liquidate its assets to pay off an outstanding debt of $6.2 million.
With a July 5, 2012 public auction looming for the liquidation, Ambassador Ronald Weiser, a former Chair of the Michigan Republican Party and Trustee of The Henry Ford museum in nearby Flint, arranged with Citizens to purchase the museum’s land, building, assets, and outstanding debt at a reduced cost. As part of his plan, he helped form a new nonprofit entity called “Michigan Science Center,” a completely different organization than the one operating Detroit Science Center at the time of its closure. Ambassador Weiser’s wife Eileen, who was instrumental in the design and implementation of his strategy, sits on the Michigan Science Center board.
For Weiser’s plan to succeed, Michigan Science Center will not be able to incur debt. All funding will either come from donations or from sales. To date, the nonprofit has commitments of more than $2.5 million, including $1 million from the General Motors Foundation. Once the existing debt has been paid off to Weiser, the property and contents will be sold to the new foundation at a discounted cost.

Board members are meeting this week to determine a possible opening date, predicted to be this fall. As an indication that things are progressing, Detroit Science Center’s Facebook page was recently changed to reflect the museum’s new name and a new website is currently under construction.  

One other area museum, the Detroit Children’s Museum, was operated under contract by the Detroit Science Center and closed shortly after the Science Center due to the larger institution’s financial issues. Operation of the Children’s Museum has reverted to its owner, Detroit Public Schools, and it is open on a limited basis to public school children from within the district during the school day. Detroit Public Schools is considering opening the Children’s Museum to other schools and the public, should Federal or State funding be made available to supplement operating costs.

At this time, there is no word on the new Science Center entering into an operational contract with the school district.

RELATED: Detroit Science Center Could Face Liquidation

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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