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Michigan Theater's main auditorium to remain closed through August while renovations continue

Renovations include new seats, improved heating/cooling system and more

Credit: Matt Giles
Credit: Matt Giles

ANN ARBOR – In July, I wrote about how the Michigan Theater is addressing the (slightly) outdated seats in its main auditorium and how it would be closed throughout July while the new seats are installed. The renovations are still underway, and as a result, the main auditorium will remain closed through at least mid-August. While no film screenings or live events will take place in the auditorium during this time, programming will continue as normal in the screening room, annex cinema and all four screens at the State Theatre.

When it reopens, the main floor will boast comfortable, historically appropriate seats with a significant increase in leg room for all seats (praise be). With that increase will come a reduction in seating capacity -- the auditorium will now be able to host approximately 1,600 patrons at a time, down from the current 1,710 maximum. The original seats will remain in the balcony for the time being, featuring the original hardware from the seats’ installation in 1942 and the refurbished cushions from 1986.

While the new seats are the most visible of the renovations (and a sample of the new seats is available to try out in the Michigan Theater grand foyer), much of the work still to be done is behind the scenes. One of the most important projects currently underway is a complete overhaul of the boiler room. The current system will be removed and replaced with two high-efficiency boilers. 

Planned updates to the Barton Organ’s pipe system continues the important restoration work that began in 2014, when the Barton Organ’s keyboard and console were removed, cleaned, repaired, and meticulously re-assembled. The organ has received daily use since then, one of only a handful of historic pipe organs that remains in its original home. The extensive repair of the organ’s pipes and chambers will likely continue past the auditorium’s re-opening in August.

These renovations are part of the successful State and Michigan Project capital campaign to renovate the State Theatre and to make critical capital improvements to the Michigan Theater. The campaign launched in 2016 and reached its financial goal earlier this year.

If you plan to attend any screenings at the Michigan or the State, there are plenty of screenings (which I've also written about) throughout the month to keep you entertained while the renovations take place.

  • "The King" - Now playing at the Michigan
  • "BlacKkKlansman" - Aug. 9 at the State
  • "Generation Wealth" - Aug. 10 at the Michigan
  • "Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf" - Aug. 17 at the Michigan
  • "The Cakemaker" - Aug. 17 at the Michigan
  • "Puzzle" - Aug. 24 at the Michigan
  • "The Bookshop" - Aug. 31 at the Michigan
  • "Juliet, Naked" - Aug. 31 at the State

About the Michigan Theater Foundation, Inc.

Michigan Theater Foundation, Inc. is a Michigan nonprofit organization, whose mission is to bring together audiences and support to appreciate and advance cinema and the performing arts, measurably benefit the diverse communities it serves, and maintain and protect the historic building entrusted to it. The Michigan Theater Foundation operates The Michigan Theater, The State Theatre, Art House Convergence and the Cinetopia Film Festival. For more information visit michtheater.org. 

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