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In 2018, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History identified three dead and dying Zelkova trees on its campus. They were destined to be mulched. Instead, the trees sparked an idea between The Wright Museum and the College for Creative Studies.

They decided to learn about the history of Detroit’s trees by creating the Detroit tree, or d.Tree project. Two Institutions, three trees, and twelve makers created together a new model for sustainably caring for and disposing of urban trees.


  • Recycling Resources

    The City of Detroit removes some 10,000 to 20,000 trees each year for various reasons (Helm, 2016) The timber is typically mulched when wood from larger trees could be utilized for creative and practical endeavors. With this impactful backdrop, the Wright Museum and the College for Creative Studies combined their respective institutional expertise to intentionally design a woodshop class – the d.Tree Studio - that framed an understanding of African material culture in the context of sustainability and tree experiences in Detroit.
  • Exhibition


    JULY 20, 2023 - DECEMBER 10, 2023

    A collaboration between the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the College for Creative Studies brings a new perspective of looking at Detroit Trees. 2 institutions, 3 trees, and 12 makers are helping us learn about respecting the wisdom of people, place, and history.

    Visit the exhibition in Gallery A on the lower level of the Museum.

    In partnership with the Department of Learning and Engagement and the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Inc., a series of workshops was made surrounding the idea of the Family Tree and its coexistence with the Tree of Life. Questions answered such as: What do Trees represent in African Cultures? What does the Tree of Life symbolize in Africa? How can we use Genealogical Research to record our families' history?
  • Treeposium

    The Treeposium (a Tree Symposium) featured critical conversations amongst Detroit's artists, educators, students, elders, and architects in 2021, that asked: What have Detroit's trees seen? Answers related to the African American experience in Detroit, the science of trees, and how they're all connected.

    See our past work tied to our Three Wright Museum Zelkova Trees.