Bay County Historical Museum

Preserving the Past for the Future

Bay County Historical Museum

The Bay County Historical Museum is a cultural institution located in Bay City, Michigan, USA. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Bay County and the surrounding region, with exhibits and collections that showcase the area’s unique heritage. Founded in 1974, the museum has become an important resource for historians, researchers, and members of the public interested in learning more about the local history. In this article, we will discuss the Bay County Historical Museum under four headings, namely history, collections, exhibits, and programs.


The Bay County Historical Museum was founded in 1974 by a group of local residents interested in preserving the history of the area. The museum initially operated out of a small storefront on Washington Avenue in downtown Bay City. In 1982, the museum moved to its current location, a former post office building that was renovated to house the growing collection of artifacts and exhibits.

The museum is operated by the Bay County Historical Society, a non-profit organization that relies on donations and support from the community to fund its operations. The society is governed by a board of directors, and its staff includes a curator, education coordinator, and volunteers who help with various tasks such as research, exhibit design, and outreach.


The Bay County Historical Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts and documents that tell the story of the area’s past. The collection includes items such as clothing, tools, photographs, furniture, and household items from various periods in history. One of the most significant collections is the Dow Chemical Company Archive, which contains records, photographs, and artifacts related to the company’s history in the region.

Other notable collections include the Wirt-Roethke Collection, which features the personal papers and artifacts of local poet Theodore Roethke and his family, and the Dr. Russell and Carol Bixby Collection, which includes Native American artifacts from the region. The museum’s collection also includes a research library with books, maps, and other materials related to the history of Bay County.


The Bay County Historical Museum features several permanent exhibits that showcase the area’s history. These exhibits include “Bay County’s Beginnings,” which explores the Native American and French exploration of the region; “From Lumbering to Shipbuilding,” which highlights the area’s role in the lumber and shipping industries; and “Bay City and World War II,” which examines the impact of the war on the local community.

In addition to these permanent exhibits, the museum also features rotating exhibits that change periodically. Recent exhibits have included “The Roaring Twenties in Bay City,” which explored the culture and society of the 1920s in the region, and “The Dow Chemical Company and the Space Race,” which examined the company’s involvement in the NASA space program during the 1960s.


The Bay County Historical Museum offers a variety of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. These programs include guided tours of the museum, lectures and presentations by historians and experts, and workshops and classes for children and adults. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year, such as the annual “Night at the Museum” fundraiser, which features live music, food, and a silent auction.

The museum’s education coordinator works with local schools to develop programs and resources that support the teaching of local history. The museum also offers resources for researchers and genealogists, including access to the research library and archives.


The Bay County Historical Museum is an important cultural institution that plays a vital role in preserving the history of Bay County and the surrounding region. With its extensive collection of artifacts and documents, engaging exhibits, and educational programs and events, the museum provides a valuable resource for researchers, students, and members of the public interested in learning.