Donor Spotlight: the Lyons Family

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is fortunate to have many generous families who donate their time, talent, and treasure to the Museum. A perfect example is the Lyons family, who have supported the Museum since its inception.

The Lyons family was truly with the Museum at the very beginning. Bob Lyons was among the first to both provide and raise the financial support needed to establish the museum in the old Ann Arbor firehouse. In the 1990s and 2000s, Bob and his wife, Jan, helped take the Museum to the next level as major donors to several campaigns, first as individual donors and later through their family foundation, the Bob and Jan Lyons Foundation.

Photo of shop keeper "Pepper's Ghost" illusion    
One of the holographic-like images from the Lyons Country Store Exhibit teaches visitors about life in a country store in the 1930s.    

One of the family’s most popular contributions to the Museum is the Lyons Country Store Exhibit. Bob was an avid antiques collector and he traveled across the country accumulating goods that generations of shoppers might have found in general stores: toys, games, hardware, and home goods. In 2004, Bob gave thousands of items from his collection to the Museum to be used in a country store exhibit. Sadly, Bob passed away shortly before the Lyons Country Store Exhibit opened in July 2004, but the exhibit allows his passion for historical preservation and a portion of his collection to be shared with Museum visitors of all ages every day. 

Most recently, the Lyons family challenged us to incorporate technology into the Store. Through their generosity, they helped us expand the country store exhibit with a new display featuring ghostly, holographic-like videos of historical characters interacting with items in the Store and our visitors. The characters explain what it was like to be in a country store in the 1930s. This immensely popular exhibit would simply not be possible without the Lyons family.

Jan Lyons explains that her family considers the Museum to be a place where her husband's legacy is evident. “The Lyons family is grateful for Bob's participation in the development of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Through the years, our family has enjoyed watching the Museum grow and we are grateful that Bob's legacy continues to live on," said Jan. "Our family is honored to be involved with the Museum and look forward to its continued success.” Please join us in thanking them, and the Bob and Jan Lyons Foundation, for their support!

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220 E. Ann St. 
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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