Arts, History, and Culture
From the mid-17th century, when French explorers first built Fort Miami on the St. Joseph River, southwest Michigan has embraced its diverse, multi-cultural, and artistic population.
The diverse population, and proximity to larger Chicago metropolitan area, has enhanced the community’s commitment and interest in developing performance opportunities in many artistic disciplines. This peaceful rural area has become a mecca for artisans, musicians, and all creators of art-visual and performance. There are festivals, openings, showings, and performances year round – truly something for everyone.
The desire to create often exists side by side with the desire to preserve. Historic preservation is more than just a desire in southwest Michigan – it’s action, integrity, pride, and is a central part of the community. It is not surprising that there are so many carefully restored theaters in the area; Tin Shop Theatre (Buchanan), Mendel Center Performing Arts (Benton Harbor), Beckwith Theatre (Dowagiac), Morris Performing Art Center (South Bend), and Acorn Theater (Three Oaks) with full schedules of live performances.
There are also many inspiring museums across the region including; Pears Flour Mill (Buchanan), Fernwood Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve (Buchanan), Chapin Mansion Museum (Niles), Fort St. Joseph Museum (Niles), Studebaker National Museum (South Bend), Healthworks Kids Museum (South Bend), Curious Kids Museum (St. Joseph), Heritage Museum and Cultural Center (St. Joseph),
Fine antiques and art galleries are also housed in beautifully restored buildings in many of the downtown areas, adding to the culture and history of the area.