Donation will pay for renovations at Iron Industry Museum

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee Township will be able to provide a better learning experience for visitors with help from Cliffs Natural Resources.

The Cliffs Foundation is giving the museum $200,000 over the next five years. The first year’s installment of $40,000 has just come in.

Staff members are excited about how the funding will help them update exhibits that have been in place since the museum opened in 1987, “and specifically, at least in the first phases of our upgrades, tell the story of iron mining in the last half-century or so and the important transition from underground mining to open-pit taconite mining,” Michigan Historical Center historian Troy Henderson said. “We’re going to tell that story in a lot more depth.”

Henderson says additional artifacts that the museum already has in its collection will go on display. The technology of the exhibits will also be upgraded to make them more interactive.

“The Cliffs Foundation has a long-standing tradition of giving back to the communities in which we operate, and this is just a monumental gift that we’re able to provide,” Cliffs Natural Resources Michigan district public affairs manager Jennifer Huetter said. “The museum is in need of the exhibit upgrades and we’re proud to be able to help them with that.”

The museum has also been enhanced in other ways recently. In 2009, it opened a new access road from US-41 and switched from a seasonal schedule to staying open year-round. A new two-mile trail system opened in 2011.