From Lighthouses to Barbie: Unpacking Port Huron’s Museum Scene

From Lightships to Barbies: Port Huron's Museum Stories

by Cliff Duvernois

Port Huron Museums

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What’s there to do in Port Huron? Plenty! Andrew Kerscher, the Manager of Community Engagement at Port Huron Museums, in Port Huron, Michigan shares his journey from a history-loving high school graduate to his role at the museum, including his time as an interpreter at Mackinac State Historic Parks.

He delves into the unique challenges and rewards of museum work, emphasizing the importance of making history engaging and accessible in short encounters. Port Huron Museums, managing four distinct sites, including the Carnegie Center and Michigan’s oldest lighthouse at Fort Gratiot, offers a wide array of historical and cultural exhibitions ranging from maritime history to Thomas Edison’s early life.

The episode also touches on Andrew’s personal connection to Port Huron, highlighting how his dedication to the town’s history and culture influences his work. Andrew also discusses upcoming and rotating exhibitions, like the unique Barbie exhibit, and how the museum aims to impact its visitors positively. The podcast concludes with ways to connect with Port Huron Museums online to learn more about their offerings and events.

Links From Lighthouses to Barbie: Unpacking Port Huron’s Museum Scene

Port Huron’s Hidden Gems: A Deep Dive into Local Museums with Andrew Kercher

Port Huron, a quaint city with a vibrant history and cultural identity, holds more than meets the eye. My recent journey to the city, largely unexplored by me until now, unveiled a rich tapestry of stories, innovations, and historical treasures, all housed within its local museums. The opportunity to sit down with Andrew Kercher, the manager of community engagement, offered a comprehensive look into the city’s unique past and the museological wonders it offers both locals and visitors alike.

Embracing History in Limited Time

Kercher, with his profound love for sharing history, faces the challenge of making a lasting impact on visitors within the confined timespan of their museum visits. He eloquently described the essence of engaging families and individuals in a way that sparks their curiosity, pushing them to explore more, beyond the walls of the museums. This challenge, instead of daunting him, fuels his passion for making history accessible and intriguing for all.

A City Rich in Museums

Port Huron is not your average small city. Hosting six museums, with four under the stewardship of Port Huron Museums, it stands out as a cultural hub. The city’s Carnegie Library, now a year-round museum, and three ‘satellite sites’ along the scenic waterways offer an eclectic mix of history, from the oldest lighthouse in Michigan at Fort Gratiot Light Station to the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, dedicated to the city’s most famous son.

Accessibility and Inclusion

Kercher highlighted the museums’ efforts in ensuring accessibility, with free admissions made possible through grants and a comprehensive pass for those wishing to explore all sites. This approach not only encourages visitation but also solidifies the museums’ role in the community as inclusive spaces for learning and exploration.

From Local to Global: A Personal Journey

Diving deeper, Kercher shared his personal journey, from volunteering at the Port Huron Museum to exploring museum work across Michigan and eventually returning to his roots. His narrative was a testament to the impact of local history on individual lives and the power of community engagement in preserving such heritages.

Education and Preservation

His academic and professional background, coupled with personal experiences, has shaped his approach to museum work – not just as a historian, but as an educator and preservationist. He underscored the importance of facing historical controversies head-on, advocating for a comprehensive understanding of history in its truest form.

A Cultural Mosaic: Port Huron Museums

Each museum in Port Huron, as detailed by Kercher, offers a unique glimpse into the city’s history and its ties to broader historical narratives. From maritime history at the Huron Lightship and Fort Gratiot Light Station to the inventive spirit of Thomas Edison at his depot museum, these institutions serve as gateways to the past, providing invaluable lessons and insights.

The Future of Museums in Port Huron

Looking ahead, Kercher teased exciting developments, including innovative exhibits like the upcoming Barbie feature at the Carnegie. These initiatives reflect the museums’ dedication to attracting a diverse audience by blending traditional historical exhibits with contemporary themes.

Connecting with Port Huron Museums

For those intrigued by Port Huron’s rich cultural landscape, Kercher encouraged exploring their website and engaging with them on social media. These platforms not only offer a window into the city’s fascinating history but also serve as channels for fostering a deeper connection with the community.


Port Huron, with its myriad museums and the riveting stories they hold, is a testament to the city’s dedication to preserving its past while embracing the future. Andrew Kercher, with his unwavering passion and commitment to museum work, encapsulates the spirit of Port Huron – a city proud of its heritage, eager to share it with the world, and ready to inspire the next generation of historians and explorers. This hidden gem, through its museums, offers not just a trip through time but a journey of discovery, community, and inspiration.