Coming Soon to Old Mackinac Point

Although the museums and historic sites are closed, winter is a busy time here at Mackinac State Historic Parks! One of many projects currently taking place is the installation of a new science and technology exhibit at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City.

Part of the new exhibit.

The new exhibit will focus on the science of lighthouses, with elements demonstrating how technology harnessed the natural powers of light and sound to help keep sailors safe in the Straits of Mackinac. Hands-on elements will let visitors see how prisms bend and reflect light to create a brilliant lighthouse beacon, hear the power of low-frequency sounds to penetrate thick fogbanks, and even build their own visually unique lighthouse. The centerpiece of this new exhibit will be a functional, rotating 4th order Fresnel lens, allowing visitors to see how these gleaming beehives of brass and glass worked at places like Old Mackinac Point. Meanwhile, the original lens from Old Mackinac

Rendering of the reception room featuring the new Fresnel lens display.

Point, on loan from the U.S. Coast Guard, will be prominently displayed in a new case which will allow visitors to see even more of this fascinating piece of historic technology.

To accommodate this new exhibit, park carpenters have been at work in the lighthouse over the past few months to prepare the gallery space. When Old Mackinac Point was in operation, the gallery space was a spare room used by visiting lighthouse workers, and there were still several historic elements present. Some of these features, such as an original door and the plaster ceiling, are being carefully preserved to maintain the lighthouse’s historic integrity. Other pieces, like the wooden baseboard trim, have been crafted new to match originals elsewhere in the lighthouse.

The new technology exhibit will open with the rest of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse on May 4. Visit for more information or to purchase tickets. We hope to see you at the lighthouse!

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