Following Your Curiosity

For the curious-minded, the Michigan Theater can be a treasure chest of intriguing information and fascinating images.

Posters for upcoming films are scattered around the ticket booth and concession stand. First-time visitors often stare in wonder at the dramatic vaulted ceiling of the Grand Foyer.

On the floor of that foyer, you might scan the different photographs along the back wall of the main theater. A 1933 picture shows the “Theatre’s Original Marquee”, which advertises Edward G. Robinson in The Little Giant; the Wings Over the Andes travelogue; and news. In a 1947 photo, E. C. Beatty, vice president of the Butterfield Theatre chain, helps with a canned food drive by accepting donations from young children as they enter the Michigan.

Or you might linger in the Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders, where you see displays with such titles as “The Early Settlers”, “The Music Makers”, “Ann Arbor Goes to Church”, and “The University Grows”. A display about the Michigan details the contributions of the original owner (Angelo Poulos), architect (Maurice Finkel), original manager (Gerald Hoag), and head of the theater chain that included the Michigan (W. S. Butterfield).

On April 21, 2007, young visitors to the Michigan (and their parents) had their curiosity satisfied about some worlds of experience that they might not have fully appreciated or even knew existed.

In Microcosmos, the latest movie in the 2006-2007 Family-Friendly Film Series, small creatures like ants and snails came dramatically alive on the big screen. Special photography showed these creatures going about their daily business in a way that many humans could understand.

A viewer of Microcosmos might have wondered many things. What am I seeing? What are they doing? What will happen next? And maybe most of all—how did the filmmakers do that? A wide variety of images appeared, and I don’t envy parents having to answer questions from young children who were curious about some of the more intimate and violent encounters between the creatures.

When I looked at the colors, visual patterns and behavior of the insects, it made me think about the different debates on intelligent design, evolution and natural selection. It was easy to imagine a creative force following their curiosity to shape something unique out of basic materials—the same way that the designers of the Michigan came up with the repeating and symmetrical patterns that fill the theater.

Music from Small Hands

After Microcosmos, filmgoers were greeted in the Grand Foyer by the Instrument Petting Zoo of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, which plays at the Michigan. Young children were allowed to discover what sounds they could produce from violins, violas, cellos and other instruments.

After all this fun, I continued exploring the Michigan. The always interesting publicity table included flyers for the symphony orchestra’s Family Concert Series; current films at the Michigan and its partner theater, the State; and an upcoming concert by Little Richard, the latest show in the Michigan’s Legends of Rock & Roll series.

And later, when I returned to the Michigan for Avenue Montaigne, I got a small taste of some upcoming films—Black Book, The Host and Year of the Dog. Curiosity about upcoming events always keeps me coming back to the Michigan.

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.


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