The downtown Ann Arbor area is full of vibrant arts organizations, businesses, and public art. This self-guided art tour will welcome you to the rich arts culture that the downtown area has to offer. Enjoy this tour from the comfort of your own space or follow along on foot by following the Google map! We have highlighted the places we think students should know about, listed the free or low-cost resources they offer, and gave you some hints for fun things to spot along the way!
Regents' Plaza, behind LSA
Endover, aka The Cube, is a beloved piece of public art on Central Campus created by artist Tony Rosenthal in 1968. The unique element of this piece is that it can be turned on its axis, a fun pastime for students over the years.
Can you spot... A teeny-tiny piece of artwork nearby? Hint: When you find it, keep it on the down low.
Learn more about public art on campus here.
233 S. State St.
The State Theatre opened in 1942. It was purchased by the Michigan Theater and underwent major renovations in 2016 to restore the historic theater and reopened in 2017. When in regular operation, the State Theatre is a great place to catch arthouse films and favorite cult classics. The State Theatre is a great place to catch arthouse films and favorite cult classics. Theater capacity is currently limited. Student tickets are $8.50. Matinee tickets are $7.50.
Michigan Theater, 603. E. Liberty
The Michigan Theater has been in operation since 1928! It is an arthouse film theater and venue for live performances. The theater also runs the annual Cinetopia Film Festival. When the theater is open to the public it hosts the Stamps Speaker Series and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. You can catch movies through the Michigan Theater both in-person (limited capacity) and online! Student tickets are $8.50. Matinee tickets are $7.50.
Enjoy great arthouse films through the Virtual Movie Palace
Grab some snacks for your virtual movie experience through Curbside Concessions -their popcorn is really good!
Can you spot... the fairy door?
E. Liberty St. (Next door to Taste Kitchen)
An ever changing display of graffiti art. It's easy to see how the alley gets its name.
Watch this video of a piece of artwork being made in the alley courtesy of Destination Ann Arbor.
201 S. Division St.
The Stamps Gallery opened in 2017 and is part of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. The gallery plays a leadership role at U-M and the global art community through exhibitions, publications and public programs that are lively, experimental and inclusive. The gallery has a commitment to social justice which shapes their work, developing exhibitions, programs, and publications that inspire new ways of looking, making, and thinking.
During the school year the gallery will be open to U-M students on Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-7pm. You must bring your MCard to enter. The gallery will be announcing soon their virtual programs and exhibitions. Stamps Gallery welcomes public audiences to visit the Gallery in a limited capacity starting Friday, June 25, 2021. The gallery is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm: reserve your time here.
Check out this YouTube video for a virtual tour!
Can you spot... The mural nearby painted by artist Cathy Gendron titled “Enduring Roots”?
212 S. 4th Ave.
The Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase presents acts from Detroit, touring comics, and open mics (Comedy Jamm). When in regular operation, students get half off Wed/Thurs shows and 10pm Fri/Sat shows. Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase is holding shows in-person. Current hours are Friday 6-8pm and Saturday 6-10pm.
Check out their Facebook page for their upcoming shows.
Can you spot... the construction? Haha, just kidding.
124 E. Washington St.
Literati is an independent bookstore that opened in 2013 and quickly became a fan favorite in Ann Arbor. When in regular operation, they have great author readings, book clubs and poetry nights. Literati is open with limited capacity on Monday through Saturday 11am-8pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm. They also have a full calendar of virtual events called At Home with Literati.
Check out this video for a virtual tour
Can you spot... the Notes From A Public Typewriter mural? You can submit an entry online here
219 S. Main St.
Vault of Midnight is your go-to location for all things comics! From now until September 9 you can pick out a FREE comic through Free Comic Book Summer!Visit the shop Sunday through Thursday 11am-8pm or Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm.
117 W. Liberty St.
The Ann Arbor Art Center has been around since 1909! Inside there is a retail shop for artists’ wares and galleries for artists’ exhibitions. They also offer arts workshops and classes - great to keep in mind if you’re around in the summer. Stop by and visit Tuesday through Friday 10am-6pm or Saturday and Sunday 12pm-5pm.
The Ann Arbor Art Center has recently installed 12 new murals in Downtown Ann Arbor! Click here to see the mural map and “meet” the artists.
Make some art with what you’ve got laying around with A2AC Digital Learning!
Can you spot... the Aquarium Gallery? Hint: Success is just around the corner.
316 S. Main St.
The Ark started as a church-run open dialogue, gathering, and event space in since 1966. It is now a beloved and intimate live music venue. The Ark hosts lots of touring acts all year round and puts on the the popular Folk Festival every year in January.
When in regular operation, The Ark has monthly Open Stage events (you could sign up!) and Artist Spotlight events that are free to attend with a nonperishable food donation.
Starting August 2021 The Ark will begin in-person shows again. In the meantime, be sure to check out their online events through The Ark Family Room Series.
314 S. Main St.
The Blue Llama Jazz club features jazz and world music. The venue offers a world class stage and sound system. They also serve up jazz-inspired small plates. Blue Llama is open Thursday through Sunday 5pm-11pm. They occasionally feature U-M student events, like the U-M Jazz Showcase!
Watch videos of performances at the Blue Lllama Jazz Club!
Corner of S. Main St. & E. William St.
Power Art! is a public art project created in partnership by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, The Arts Alliance, and the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission. The goal was to wrap downtown traffic boxes with artwork created by Washtenaw County artists. To date, twenty five art installations have been done in Downtown Ann Arbor. The piece you are looking at now is called Pen Pal by Ann Arbor artist David Zinn. Zinn has another installation called Selfie Monster on the corner of W. Liberty and S. First.
Check out all the Power Art! Installations
“Meet” Artist David Zinn here
343 S. 5th Ave
The Ann Arbor District Library is an AMAZING resource for U-M students! There is no fee to join. Just bring your current photo ID and proof of your current local address and you’re in! When in regular operation, AADL hosts lots of FREE creative workshops including the Sewing Lab, Letterpress Lab, and other fun events like Paint-along with Bob Ross. They also exhibit artist’s work. They also have an impressive amount of things you can check out that you’d never expect to be at a library!
Until the library opens contactless check out services again, there's a TON of programming on AADL.tv and lots of good local visual arts, film & video, theater & dance, and written word features on their arts blog called Pulp.
Can you spot... the mural nearby, also done by David Zinn? Hint: When you find it you’ll say, “What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!”