Biddle House Update

As you may have heard, we’re currently in the process of updating the Biddle House to include the Mackinac Island Native American Museum. This new exhibit, which tells the continuing story of the Anishnaabek on Mackinac Island and in the surrounding Straits of Mackinac region, will open in early summer 2020. To get the building ready for the new exhibit, the Biddle House itself is currently undergoing a variety of restoration work.

Biddle House work underway in December 2019.

Although snow is on the ground and it’s wintertime on Mackinac Island, improvements to the Biddle House are progressing. The large porch and ramp facing Market Street has been removed, restoring the house to its appearance in the 1830s. Our staff carpenters will construct a small, historically appropriate stoop in its place. A new, fully accessible entry plaza is under construction in the side yard to provide a welcoming entrance to the house and exhibits inside. Meanwhile, the shake roof is currently being replaced. The exterior wooden siding was repaired and repainted before the weather turned cold.

Interior of the Biddle House.

Inside the house, the historic furniture previously on display in two period settings has been safely stored with the rest of our collections. Some of the pieces, including a desk and chairs that most likely belonged to the Biddle family, will return in a new period setting in the parlor. A paint analysis conducted earlier this year revealed decorative elements which will be recreated in the parlor, and we have been acquiring other original objects to furnish the room to reflect the economic and social success of Agatha and Edward Biddle in the 1830s.

Design work for the exhibit itself continues as well. In addition to revising the exhibit script, we have been working with tribal partners to acquire new images to more fully illustrate the Anishnaabek experience in northern Michigan. Additionally, a short interpretive path has been laid out in the back yard. Landscaping and planting will begin once the weather improves in the spring.

We hope that you’re as excited for the new Mackinac Island Native American Museum at the Biddle House as we are. Check our website for further updates and to purchase tickets, and we hope to see you at the Biddle House in 2020.

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