News Story

Who spent $13M on five state museums?

Legislature doesn’t name sponsors of grants in 2025 Michigan state budget

Michigan’s legislators approved $13 million in grants to select museums in the 2025 budget, but lawmakers do not say who made these earmarks. The money will be paid out through the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s enhancement grants.

The identity of the sponsors of these grants is unknown. The Legislature has provided incomplete responses to CapCon’s previous attempts to learn which legislators requested the money for specific district projects.

The Motown Museum will receive a $5 million enhancement grant. CapCon reported in 2022 that the museum would receive $1 million from taxpayers to expand and develop what one news account called a “creative hub of entrepreneurship.”

The Motown Museum had $9.05 million in revenue in 2022, according to its 990 form. It curates artifacts related to the Motown record label. The museum “is the place in Detroit for talent cultivation, entrepreneurial training and empowerment, music making and professional development for those aspiring to be in the music industry,” according to its website. The museum did not respond to a request for comment.

The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery will receive a grant for the third consecutive year. The museum, hosted by Ferris State University, will receive $4 million this year, $1 million in 2023 and $5 million in 2024.

The museum holds ”the nation's largest publicly accessible collection of artifacts of intolerance,” Kathy Mullins, a spokesperson for Ferris State University, told CapCon.

The money will be spent as part of a $22 million expansion project. So far Ferris State University has contributed $10 million to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery. The state has contributed $10 million, and another $2.41 million came through philanthropy, Mullins said.

The Chaldean Cultural Center, located in West Bloomfield, will receive $1 million from the state. The nonprofit reported $140,000 in contributions in 2022 and just over $3 million in assets.

“The Chaldean Cultural Center celebrates and explores the extraordinary history, arts, traditions, and contributions of the Chaldean people from ancient times to the present,” according to the center’s website. The center did not respond to a request for comment.

The Lakeshore Museum Center will receive $2 million from the state. It had $2.5 million in total revenue, according to the organization’s 990 form, and received $1.8 million through contributions and grants.

“I am still reeling from the announcement that we were awarded state funds,” Melissa Horton, executive director of the museum, told CapCon in an email. The money will be used for much-needed restoration projects, she said.

The organization operates five museums that relate to Muskegon's history.

The work has to adhere to local Historical District guidelines, which raises repair costs, Horton said.

The Michigan Flight Museum was awarded a $1 million grant. Located in the Wayne County municipality of Belleville, the museum generated $2.3 million in revenue in 2022, according to its 990. It holds various artifacts and conducts an annual air show. The museum, formerly known as the Yankee Air Force, received $1.23 million in grants and contributions in 2022. It also raised $2.2 million in revenue from its air show and by offering rides on vintage aircraft.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has not yet signed the budget into law.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.