Although it’s only been open since June 1, the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island already has attracted more than 14,000 visitors to its art museum-style collector car showcase.
“Our number one comment from visitors is how the museum is not what they expected at all,” Gunther Beurman, who co-founded the museum with his wife, Maggie, said in a news release announcing the museum’s winter hours.
“Before we opened, I used to say, ‘If no one comes, I’ll be happy here enjoying the cars all by myself’,” Beurman said. “Now, I’m just so pleased that our original intent of sharing our collection with the public is so well-received.”
The Newport Car Museum is located in a former missile-manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, which shares its Aquidneck Island with Newport, the popular tourist destination, and the home of another relatively new car museum, the Audrain. The former Raytheon Company campus provides 50,000 square feet of exhibit space for the car museum, with another 5,000 square feet devoted to an events hall. There’s also parking for more than 300 cars on site, and the museum often hosts marque-specific car shows.
In the first few months since the museum’s opening, it has staged a German car day, a Corvette day and a Porsche day.
“It’s like a Field of Dreams,” said Beurman, “seeing dozens upon dozens of these fabulous cars owned by others streaming into the parking lot. It’s really beyond our wildest dreams.”
Inside the museum is an automotive dreamland in its own right. The museum offers five galleries — Ford/Shelby, Corvette, Fin Cars, Mopars, and World cars. There are no barriers around the cars, and the displays are enhanced by special wall art, theatrical lighting, turntables, video displays, and by a collection of Mid-Century modern furniture that provides a place “for rest and reflection,” the museum said.
Buerman began car collecting 12 years ago. Before opening their own museum, the Buermans visited the National Auto Museum in Reno, the Revs Institute (Collier Collection) in Florida and Ralph Lauren’s private car collection to draw inspiration for the style of displays they wanted to present.
Gunther Beurman said the goal was to present cars as they might be displayed in an art museum.
The museum’s winter hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekends and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. For more information, visit the museum’s website.
Muscle car engines exposed at the Gilmore
Starting Monday, December 4, and running through Saturday the 10th, the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, will open the hoods on the cars in its special muscle car exhibit so visitors can see the engines that made muscle cars so muscular.
Engines to be exposed include those in the Pontiac GTO, Olds 442, Shelby GT500, Chevelle LS6, Ford Torino Cobra Jet, Dodge and Plymouth Hemis, and even a couple of AMCs and a Chevy 409.
The museum also has announced that its popular Blue Moon Diner, a vintage 1941 roadside eatery parked on the museum’s campus, remains open only through December 10 and then will be closed for the winter, reopening April 1, 2018.
DeLoreans at the AACA
From November 1 through April 30, 2018, the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is showcasing a pair of stainless-steel, gull-winged DeLorean DMC-12s. One is the original 1976 prototype and the other is a 1981 production version.
The prototype went to the museum directly from the set of a movie about the life of John DeLorean, who is being played by Alec Baldwin and is scheduled for release in 2018. The museum notes that the original intent was to place a mid-mounted Wankel (rotary) engine in the car. Later, a European Ford V6 was considered before the Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 became DeLorean’s choice.
Holiday shopping at car museums
Looking for those last-minute gifts to give this holiday season? Consider a visit to the gift shop at your nearest car museum. While you’re there, give your favorite car guy or gal the gift of a 2018 museum membership — and don’t forget to give yourself a new membership as well.
Special events this weekend
Sunday, the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine stages its annual holiday celebration from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with free admission and family activities, including Santa trading his reindeer for the museum’s Piper PA-18 Super Cub.
America on Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, holds its ninth annual moonlight memories gala, Cars, Corks & Cuisine, Saturday from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
The AACA Museum stages its Polar Express Pajama Party today from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
In celebration of its selection as museum of the year by Octane magazine, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia is offering free admission Saturday and Sunday.
The Blackhawk Museum’s speaker series continues in Danville, California, with author Matt Stone discussing his latest works — Isky, The Ed Iskenderian Story and McQueen’s Motorcycles: Racing and Riding with the King of Cool. Stone’s presentation is scheduled for Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.