Midland Center for the Arts opens Mid-Century Modern inspired lounge

The Midland Center for the Arts is a building rich in history, designed by architect and philosopher Alden B. Dow, and is celebrating that Mid-Century Modern legacy with the opening of the Pendulum Lounge, a new bar and lounge experience, on Thursday, March 4.

The themed lounge is located at the front entrance of Midland Center and the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science & Art, where the gift shop was located. With much of the building closed due to the pandemic and historic flood of 2020, Communications and Public Relations Manager Josh Holliday said the lounge offers the Center the chance to reconnect with many patrons and donors, and engage with young and seasoned professionals.
With the Pendulum’s offerings of small plates like meatloaf and deconstructed deviled eggs, signature cocktails, beer and wine, Holliday hopes this becomes a unique dining destination.

Last summer, the Center took advantage of outdoor space to welcome guests to enjoy live music and happy hours, but this lounge connects that exterior space with the inside, perfect for cold or rainy days.

In designing the space, Holliday said the team wanted to create a unique atmosphere, something different from the experiences at other incredible regional restaurants.

Josh Holliday is the Communications and Public Relations Manager for the Midland Center for the Arts.“We wanted to create a once-a-week happy hour experience that was different and experiential,” says Holliday. “When people come to the lounge, they’ll be able to not only sit on furniture that is Mid-Century Modern-esque, but they’ll also be surrounded by portraits of homes in Midland County that are Mid-Century Modern. We’ll have blueprints of the Center actually on display, that Alden created himself.”

Since the museum remains closed, this lounge offers guests a taste of what they could explore and learn from the center’s traditional programming, similar to a mini-museum exhibit.

We’re able to bring people in to get an essence for what makes our museum really unique, and that really is the architecture that you see right when you walk inside,” Holliday says, “and also learn a little bit about this design, this aesthetic, and these principles that were so well-adopted in our community, particularly more than a lot of other communities around the state.”

One of the highlighted furniture pieces inside the Pendulum Lounge is a set of original Mid-Century Modern “Swan” chairs, which have been historically used in different locations throughout the building. The space is a mix of period pieces, as well as modern-day furniture reminiscent of iconic pieces or staples in line with the recognizable design elements.

Seating will be socially-distant with a maximum of 59 guests. In a commitment to COVID-compliance, Holliday says the Center invested in an additional level of safety.

“We have these air scrubbers that use a high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filter, which removes over 99% of disease-causing pathogens,” he says. “These scrubbers (scattered strategically throughout the space) utilize this particular filter which is helping to clean the air,” giving diners a bit more peace of mind.

The Pendulum Lounge is slated to be open every Thursday from 4:30-8 p.m., and most evenings, live entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m. There is no cover charge and reservations are not required.
Since the museum remains closed, this lounge offers guests a taste of what they could explore and learn from the center’s traditional programming, similar to a mini-museum exhibit.

While the Center is known for their performing arts, science museum, and historical society, it’s not often thought of for its culinary options. With the Pendulum’s offerings of small plates like meatloaf and deconstructed deviled eggs, signature cocktails, beer and wine, Holliday hopes this becomes a unique dining destination.

The Lounge is made possible by the support of Tri-Star Trust and will feature live music in the vein of the ‘50s and ‘60s era, smooth jazz stylings, Mid-Mod Mixology nights with in-house mixologist, live painting events, and pop culture trivia nights.

“A lounge in the past has been a staple at this center and something we’ve continually wanted to grow and get more people engaged with,” says Holliday. “We’re excited to try this out, particularly in this moment, where we can try and be nimble and adaptive to the ongoing desires and wishes of people in the community.”

For more information on the Pendulum Lounge and upcoming events, visit the Center’s website.

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at spohn9@gmail.com.
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