The UPCM’s founders determined that all interested citizens should have the opportunity to be involved in the arts and sciences to understand the world around them. In 1991, the UPCM purchased a 32,000 square foot warehouse located in downtown Marquette. That same year, the UPCM was awarded a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status. In 1992, the UPCM began offering invaluable cultural and educational programming to the region, including the unique Design-O-Saurus series of participatory programs that involved children in the design of the museum and its key exhibits.
In 1995, extensive renovation of the facility began. Visitors at that point were undoubtedly struck by the enormity of the task ahead. Converting an old moving and storage warehouse into a place where kids could learn and play appeared to be an almost impossible undertaking! But the small core staff, with the support of the initial Board of Directors, was up to the task and soon a very special place began to take shape.
As an unexpected outcome a bustling street developed around the Museum. Finally, in March 1997, after five years of sustained development, the hands-on museum’s main exhibit hall, The World of Science and Nature, and The Dino-Store gift shop opened to the public. Six months later, the Museum’s second exhibit hall, Micro-Society opened, followed by the opening of the Over the Air exhibit hall.
In the summer of 1998 the UPCM unveiled the Non-Profit Commons (now The Baraga Place) a collaborative office environment housing regional nonprofits.
In April of 2002 the Incredible Journey crawl-through health exhibit was unveiled to the public complete with a slide-down intestine. In 2003 the UPCM was awarded the Governor’s Award for Arts and Culture for being an exemplary cultural institution. The Reinventing Michigan Award was awarded to the Museum in August of 2011, its director, Nheena Weyer Ittner, earned the Evergreen Award that same year.