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Detroit Historical Society to open exhibit commemorating Kresge’s centennial

Centennial, Detroit

Programming to include special lectures; Kresge also selected for Moving Forward award.

The Detroit Historical Society announced today that it has partnered with The Kresge Foundation to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the foundation in 2024 with an exciting slate of exhibitions and programming that will launch in early May.

Kresge was established in 1924 by Sebastian Spering Kresge, whose retail empire, the S.S. Kresge Co., brought low-priced goods to the public through five and dime stories, and later, Kmart. Today the private philanthropic foundation works to expand equity and opportunity in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing. After 100 years, more than $5.1 billion has flowed to support nonprofits across the U.S and around the world.

A new exhibition, Kresge at 100: A Century of Impact, a Future of Opportunity, will be a centerpiece of the centennial commemoration.  Components include:

Exhibition: Kresge at 100: A Century of Impact, a Future of Opportunity

This unique exhibition will be staged in two separate galleries of the Detroit Historical Museum. The story will unfold on the Lower Level of the museum where the Kresge & Wilson store in the iconic Streets of Old Detroit has benefitted from some needed repairs and new interpretive elements, giving visitors a preview of the main exhibition which is housed in Wrigley Hall, which was built with support from the Kresge Foundation in the 1960s.

The main exhibit features a company and foundation timeline, a Kresge store lunch counter complete with historic menus, and a spotlight on Foundation programs. Kresge at 100: A Century of Impact, a Future of Opportunity opens to the public with Free Admission to the museum on May 4, 2024. The exhibit will be open until January 31, 2025.

Kresge Second Sundays

Free Admission to this special exhibit doesn’t end with the public opening on May 4. The Kresge Foundation is sponsoring free admission on the second Sunday of every month during the run of the exhibition. Beginning on June 9 and running through January 12, 2025, every Second Sunday will be free to visit the Detroit Historical Museum.

The Kresge Foundation will host selected lectures, workshops and panel discussions during the commemoration, including:

May 23: Book talk to celebrate the publication of Embracing a City: The Kresge Foundation in Detroit 1993-2023 (Momentum Books) moderated by John Gallagher

June 19: Juneteenth: The Role of Lunch Counters in the Civil Rights Movement Lecture moderated by local historian Ken Coleman

As a part of the commemoration, the Society has selected the Kresge Foundation as the recipient of its 2024 Moving Forward Award.  The Moving Forward Award is given annually to an individual or organization that has moved the region forward in a significant way. “The Moving Forward Award selection process is always inspirational,” said Society President and CEO, Elana Rugh. “This year our partnership provided a bird’s eye view into the incredible legacy that The Kresge Foundation has forged, which made our decision easy. We could not imagine a better recipient for this award or a more appropriate time to honor The Kresge Foundation than its 100th Anniversary.”  The award will be presented at the 2024 Society Ball, Saluting the Legends, hosted on May 11 at the Detroit Historical Museum.