On the afternoon of Thursday, October 5th, all conference participants will have the opportunity to participate in Behind the Scenes tours, special tours held around the city and curated by IWF Detroit. Please refer to the descriptions below – you will be able to make your tour preference during the registration process. All tours will depart from the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and are scheduled to return by 5:00 pm.
In a special interactive experience at the College for Creative Studies (CCS), attendees will learn about the opportunities and applications of augmented reality in manufacturing from Oakland University's (OU’s) Augmented Reality Center (ARC). The merging of the 3-D physical world and digital data can open new and better ways to interact with machines. OU and CCS faculty will share how engineering, science, and design students are learning about this state-of-the-art technology and its industrial applications, in concert with industry partners. Attendees will have a chance to test out the technology themselves and hear directly from faculty, students, and industry partners like Unreal Engine and Vectorform. CCS will also host tours of its Taubman Center for Design Education, providing a behind-the-scenes peek at contemporary design education.
For more than a century, the stunning Albert Kahn-designed building at 8801 Woodward Avenue has played an important role in Detroit. Built for the city’s first Jewish congregation, Temple Beth El, this one-time synagogue features a soaring sanctuary and murals by Myron Barlow. Today, it is home to Breakers Covenant Church International.
Join the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan for a tour of this magnificent structure. Stay for a conversation between Pastor Aramis Hinds (Breakers) and Rabbi Ariana Silverman (Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue), the forces behind the Bethel Community Transformation Center (BCTC), a coalition of Black and Jewish Detroiters using reconciliation to build community. BCTC is reinvigorating the building, restyling it into a modern performing arts complex, interfaith worship space, and community center. Following light refreshments, enjoy a walking tour of nearby Boston-Edison, a neighborhood many famous Detroiters (from motor magnate Henry Ford to boxing champion Joe Louis) have called home and learn about Jewish leadership throughout Detroit's history, from the architectural greatness of Albert Kahn to the exploits of the Purple Gang, a predominantly Jewish gang of bootleggers and hijackers.
Historic Belle Isle Park is nestled on 982 acres in the Detroit River, between the United States and Canada. Aptly named for its natural beauty, Belle Isle was purchased by the City of Detroit in 1879. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the island eventually grew to include a number of period-era statues and buildings, including the Belle Isle Aquarium, the nation’s oldest original aquarium.
The park also includes the three-acre Oudolf Garden, opened in 2021 and designed by Piet Oudolf, the internationally renowned Dutch landscape designer. The garden will grow into a work of art, characterized by Oudolf’s signature use of colorful native grasses and hardy perennial flowers.
Your visit will include both the aquarium and a tour of the Oudolf Garden. Your host will be Sarah Earley, founder and former chair of the Belle Isle Conservancy.
Both a microcosm of the wider story of downtown's second golden age and once a visible reminder of Detroit’s decline, the David Whitney and Metropolitan Buildings tell an important story about Detroit’s greatness and resilience. Tour guests will learn about the adaptive reuse of these irreplaceable structures, allowing them to be perhaps even more appreciated a century later. Building owner and IWF Michigan member Stacy Fox and her partners will describe the history of the David Whitney, built in 1915 and designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham, who led the design of Chicago’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893. The building was restored by Roxbury Group in 2014. Tour guests will then walk across Woodward to the Metropolitan Building, which sat dormant and decaying for nearly 40 years before reopening as the Element Hotel at the Metropolitan. The tour will finish with a cocktail and city views from the rooftop Monarch Club.
Experience Detroit’s thriving arts community for a special afternoon featuring Detroit’s murals. USA Today readers and a judging panel named Detroit No. 4 in the country for street art in 2022. Learn why Detroit is one of the best cities for public art anywhere in the United States.
Guests will hear directly from IWF member Rochelle Riley, director of the City of Detroit's Office of Art, Culture, and Entrepreneurship, meet Detroit mural artists, view Detroit’s largest and most iconic mural, and take a self-guided mural tour of Detroit’s famous Eastern Market, using the innovative Detroit Mural City map.
Experience the physical and cultural revitalization of Detroit through a special behind-the-scenes view of Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly," a work with a significant storyline and history related to women. The experience will include performances and presentations by Detroit Opera performing artists and artistic staff, as well as a panel discussion examining the social context of this opera and its relevance today. In addition to touring the architecturally magnificent 100-year-old home of the Detroit Opera company, guests will meet Yuval Sharon, Detroit Opera's artistic director, who is at the forefront of reshaping opera into a more open and inclusive art form, and Associate Artistic Director Christine Goerke, world-famous Wagnerian soprano who is also an IWF Michigan member.
Ford House welcomes you to one of America’s most unique and breathtaking historic estates: the home of Eleanor and Edsel Ford and their children. Edsel was the son of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford.
Walking through the entrance to the main residence, you’re immediately taken back to a time when art and architecture were integral to the family’s experience. From historical staircases and grand hearths to cozy retreats and private enclaves, Ford House is a wonder to roam through. As part of your exclusive experience, you will also tour the Ford’s garage, where you’ll see five automobiles designed and/or owned by the Fords, and South Cottage, both located in the castle-like Gate Lodge.
Your tour is personally guided by Director of Material Culture Lisa Worley and Director of Education Jason Drake and will end with a champagne toast hosted by Mark J. Heppner, president, and CEO, at the newly restored pool and lagoon.
As Detroit moves toward building a diverse and sustainable economy, organizations like Invest Detroit are working to ignite economic growth for all Detroiters. See for yourself the transformation that is taking place in Detroit neighborhoods.
This tour will take you to newly opened businesses along Livernois Avenue, one of Detroit’s most popular neighborhood commercial corridors. You will hear from economic development leaders who created the Strategic Neighborhood Fund and Ebiara, a fund for Black and Brown developers. You will learn about Detroit’s thriving small businesses, its real estate development climate, and the efforts underway to revitalize Detroit’s neighborhoods. You will also hear from the Detroit entrepreneurs, community leaders, and developers who are transforming the city into one of the most gratifying places to live.
Learn about health equity work taking place in Detroit while experiencing the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, a $90 million state-of-the-art training center and community hub. Attendees will be welcomed by Henry Ford Health and Detroit Pistons leadership who describe the collaboration that led to the development of this one-of-a-kind facility and their commitment and impact in the community. A highlight of the event will be a panel discussion about Health Equity – led by Denise Brooks-Williams, EVP & CEO Care Delivery System Operations, Henry Ford Health. Speakers to include several female health equity leaders. Following the panel, guests will be taken on a behind the scenes walking tour of the Pistons Performance Center highlighting the innovative training capabilities of the facility.
Detroit’s relationship with food security, access, and justice is complex. In recent years, the resurgence of Detroit’s food scene has led to a boom in the hospitality sector, most notably in its restaurants. However, while women and women of color have made significant strides in advancing the city’s nationally renowned food culture, too often they are not given equitable access to capital, resources, and more. Moderated by Kate Krauss, CEO of the Fair Food Foundation, this experience will highlight the stories of four trailblazers driving the city’s thriving restaurant sector: April Anderson, owner of Good Cakes & Bakes; Espy Thomas, owner of Sweet Potato Sensations; Kiki Louya, founder of Folk and Mink; and Phoebe Zimmerman, chef at Dragonfly. Sharing intimate lessons from the field, this dynamic panel will discuss the successes and challenges they faced operating in one of the most volatile sectors while fighting for their share of resources and putting Detroit on every foodie’s travel bucket list.
Get a glimpse of what it’s like to travel without vision. During Leader Dogs for the Blind’s experiential behind-the-scenes event, you will hold the harness of an extensively trained leader dog as it guides you around obstacles. You will have the opportunity to go under blindfold to experience travel with a long white cane and gain tools on how to offer assistance to someone who is blind or visually impaired. You’ll also have the chance to meet our future leader dogs, the furry puppies who will one day provide independence and confidence to those with vision loss. Learn about the impact Leader Dogs has on the blindness community by providing free services to people from around the world and how we can all do our part to make the world more accessible—and people unstoppable.
Experience a special presentation and private tour of Meadow Brook Hall, the home of Matilda Dodge Wilson, with curator Madelyn Chrapla.
Matilda was a remarkable woman. She survived great tragedies in her family and truly devoted herself to bettering the people and community around her. She was a gracious, thoughtful, and driven person who understood the great gifts life had given her, and she never forgot her roots as the daughter of a saloon-keeper. As the woman behind this National Historic Landmark and founder of Oakland University, Matilda left a meaningful legacy. She was a self-made, modern woman of the 20th century who lived an all-American success story, building a legacy as a mother, businesswoman, preservationist, art collector, horsewoman, farmer, and philanthropist throughout the community she supported.
Get energized at the National Historic Landmark and multi-venue American history attraction, The Henry Ford. Exclusive curated experiences include two of our awe-inspiring destinations:
• Benson Ford Research Center and Archive: Join Patricia Mooradian, longtime IWF member and president/CEO of The Henry Ford, with Marc Greuther, vice president and chief curator for an exclusive insider’s journey and behind-the-scenes look at some of our treasured collections from haute couture to workaday wear, exquisite quilts to Gandhi’s spinning wheel gift to Henry Ford, the prototype Apple 1 computer, and so much more!
• Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation: Join Cynthia Jones, museum director, and engage in immersive and powerful experiences, including sitting on the Rosa Parks bus, viewing the Kennedy presidential limousine, the Lincoln chair in which he was assassinated, and many other exhibits. Discover how The Henry Ford combines world-class collections and stories to empower stronger communities and brighter futures.
Learn more about Newlab@Michigan Central, located in the historic Book Depository building. Working at the intersection of mobility and society, Newlab brings together entrepreneurs and engineers with industry and government to apply innovation to challenges facing industries central to our sustainable future. Attendees will meet with Newlab leaders and entrepreneurs and tour its state-of-the art design and prototyping facilities. Attendees will also have a chance to learn about the vision for Michigan Central, a 30-acre, walkable innovation hub, as part of Ford Motor Co.’s plan to reshape the future of global mobility.
Guests will experience an extremely rare private tour, followed by refreshments, at the Fair Lane Estate, once home to Henry and Clara Ford. Hosted by IWF member Elena Ford, great-great-granddaughter of Henry Ford, and Ford Archive & and Heritage Brand Manager Ted Ryan, this tour will afford participants an opportunity to share stories about the automotive innovation that took place here, as well as an overview of influential women throughout Ford’s history.
The estate is one of the first historic sites to be designated a National Historic Landmark. The architectural style is a unique combination of European grandeur and Midwestern charm. It served as a laboratory for Henry’s tinkering and discoveries, a canvas for Clara’s love of gardens, a retreat to discuss ideas with friends like Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burrows, a hall for music and dance, and a place to gather with family to share their passions and dreams.
Two-time Academy Award–winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter has defined generations through her work in film and TV. From humble roots in Massachusetts, Carter has helped style the Afrofuturism movement for almost 40 years and created pieces for films such as Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Malcom X, Selma, and Do the Right Thing. Her vibrancy and attention to detail in costuming is integral to translating stories of race, politics, and culture to the big screen. Attendees will be introduced to The Charles H. Wright Museum by President and CEO Neil Barclay and Senior Vice President James Claiborne before touring a new exhibit about Ruth E. Carter’s work. Post-tour, curator Julia Long will lead a discussion about the ways that Ruth E. Carter’s designs have drawn audiences into imaginary worlds of the future and taken them on journeys through history.
USA Today named Detroit Institute of Arts the best Museum of 2023. It is one of the five largest encyclopedic museums in the United States. While much of the museum is open to the public, this tour will provide access to the fascinating work of the Conservation Department, which is normally off-limits. Here you’ll experience the unseen examination and treatment of works of art and the research related to artists’ materials and museum acquisitions. The work of these scientists ranges from restoring historic works of art to being called to consult for the FBI on forensic research of public stolen artwork cases.
Guests will be greeted by Director Salvador Salort-Pons in the breathtaking Rivera Court, home of Diego Rivera’s renowned Detroit Industry Murals (the “Sistine Chapel” of Detroit), and he will provide a private tour of the murals before escorting guests to the Conservation Laboratory.
Join us on a tour of the co-located spaces of the Carhartt Workshop and the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC), where you'll witness the power of partnership in innovation, belonging, and community. Carhartt's commitment to building a better world with all hardworking people is aligned with ISAIC's dedication to putting people first. Experience how this stigma-busting model is leading an industry toward real, sustainable change through programs that simultaneously advance technologies and people’s lives.
Discover Detroit's vision of how apparel and accessories manufacturing could and should be. This tour will leave you inspired and ready to be a part of the movement toward a more equitable and sustainable world for all. Don't miss out on this opportunity to see the future of manufacturing in action. Join us and be a part of the change.
Get behind-the-scenes look at Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) operations and learn how its staff cares for the more than 2,000 animals who call the zoo home. Guests will enjoy a tour of the Detroit Zoo—including the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the world's largest penguin faculty—and meet some of the zoo’s animal ambassadors. Throughout the experience, guests will engage with the DZS’s female leaders, including IWF member and Executive Director/CEO Dr. Hayley Murphy, to explore topics such as global climate change, conservation, and how the DZS fulfills its purpose of igniting positive change for animals and nature.
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