Current Exhibitions

Music in the Pines: A History of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival

September 27, 2014 - January 31, 2015

A weekend filled with music, food, friends, and camping could easily describe almost any music festival, no matter what the genre or location. But Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival is unique in its dedication to creating a multi-generational and participatory festival.  To celebrate this annual event, the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center will open the exhibition, “Music in the Pines: The History of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival,” on September 27.   The opening will take place at 1 p.m.  and will include music and dancing lessons from the Quill Pickers.  There will also be food and soft drinks provided.  Admission is free to the general public. The exhibit will run through January 31st at the Beaumier Center, which is located in 105 Cohodas Hall on the campus of Northern Michigan University.

“Music in the Pines” was created by the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center in collaboration with the Hiawatha Music Co-op.  and is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The exhibition embodies the meaning, traditions and history of Hiawatha. It features colorful stories, memories, and relics that work together to capture the essence of the cherished festival.  People come to Hiawatha not only to enjoy the music by main stage performers, but to experience nature by camping out and catching up with people they’ve come to love over the bond of similar appreciation and passion for music and family.

The Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival hast its roots in Deerton, Michigan at what is known as the “Big House”, where a group of young adult musicians lived together, fulfilling their happiness with potlucks, saunas, parties, and weekly jam sessions. The “Big House” and the small cabins surrounding it came to be a sort of commune with an appealing way to live closely to one another, but far enough away to avoid argumentation over house cleanliness and other issues. Members of the “Big House” group came up with the idea of a music festival after a few visited the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, Michigan in 1978. Members felt that because their passion was music, creating a music festival like Wheatland was in their realm of possibility.

Hiawatha was held in Champion for five years before the attendance numbers overwhelmed the amenities of the Horse Pulling Grounds.  Tourist Park in Marquette, Michigan was chosen as the new location for Hiawatha and the date was also switched to the second to last full weekend in July in 1984. Tourist Park proved to be an ideal location for the festival, with well-defined campsites, permanent restroom, showers, and electricity, and lots of shaded areas provided by the forest and came complete with a lake, lifeguard, and playground. The most appreciated aspect of the new venue was that it was isolated from the residential areas of the town, but yet close enough to attract more festival attendees and volunteers.  

The Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival and the Hiawatha Music Co-op gained recognition at Michigan’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1987, the Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan in 1992, and also received the Governor’s Outstanding Arts Organization Award. The success of the festival is directly linked to the amount of workers and volunteers that contribute their time to Hiawatha and of course the dedicated attendees that come year after year.

Hiawatha means many things to many people. For some it means sharing a beer and a hug with their best friend, for others it may mean dancing with their soul mate, gaining the courage to perform at open mic, or watching their child play on stage.  The tradition of making music for the sheer enjoyment of everyone and the celebration of togetherness is what Hiawatha is all about. It is seldom that you can walk the paths of Hiawatha and not meet someone that will wish you a “Happy Hiawatha.”



U.P. Mosaic: A working landscape and its people

The landscape of the Upper Peninsula and its relationship with its people will be the focus of a new exhibition at the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center beginning in October.   The exhibition, entitled, “U.P. Mosaic: A working landscape and its people,” will open on Saturday, October 26 with a family oriented program featuring costumed interpreters, traditional games, storytelling, music and gallery talks.  The event begins at 1p.m. and will run through 4p.m.  Admission is Free to the public.  The Beaumier Center is located in 105 Cohodas Hall on the campus of Northern Michigan University at 1401 Presque Isle Ave. in Marquette.   The exhibition will run through January 15 and will be open Monday through Saturday from 10a.m. to 4p.m.

The exhibition, “U.P. Mosaic” focuses on the complicated yet rich relationship between the people of the Upper Peninsula and its natural world and landscape featuring displays discussing both past and present issues.  The main question the exhibition asks the visitor is “how has the U.P.’s natural world helped define the culture of the Upper Peninsula and vice versa?”  Instead of the display simply answering this question, it asks also asks the visitor for their perceptions of this relationship at various comment stations throughout the exhibition.  Throughout “U.P. Mosaic,” the visitor will see a wide array of cultural artifacts, images and appealing graphic displays. The exhibition also features other interactive components for visitors of all ages, including hands-on objects stations and a video interview booth where visitors can answer the “question of the week.”

At the opening, there will be many more interactive components including the following timed activities:

Presented by the Future Historians from the Michigan Iron Industry Museum:


Indoor and Outdoor Old-Fashioned Games

  • Jacks
  • Cup and Ball
  • Tabletop 9 Pin
  • Hoop and Stick
  • Graces
  • Stilts
  • Blind Man’s Buff
  • Snap Apple

Gallery Talks with the “U.P. Mosaic” exhibition committee and Beaumier Center staff

2 p.m. – 3p.m.  

Performance by Bill Jamerson featuring songs from the Lumberjacks and the Civilian Conservation Corps

3 p.m. – 4p.m. 

Anishinaabeg storytelling session with Kenn Pitawanakwat, Center of Native American Studies at NMU.

The planning for the “U.P. Mosaic” exhibition began in the spring of 2013 with a committee of individuals with specific expertise and knowledge of the natural world and cultural relationships in the Upper Peninsula.  Committee members include:  Gregg Bruff, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (retired); Scott Demel, Anthropology Department, NMU; Courtney Herber, Beaumier Center; Mimi Klotz, Clear Lake Education Center; Nancy Matthew, cultural historian and consultant; Adam Papin, Beaumier Center; John Saari, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and Daniel Truckey, Beaumier Center.  The Beaumier Center thanks the committee for their great commitment to this project and their significant contribution to this challenging and exciting exhibition.  The Center also thanks the Future Historians from the Michigan Iron Industry Museum and Kenn Pitawanakwat for their assistance with the exhibition opening.