In the fall of 1951, New York’s Museum of Modern Art exhibited “8 Automobiles,” a historic display featuring “the esthetics of motorcar design.” Vehicles were chosen both as works of art and for the “relevance to contemporary problems of passenger car design.”
The cars presented were a 1930 Mercedes-Benz SS Tourer, a 1937 Cord 812, a 1939 Bentley, a 1939 Talbot-Lago with teardrop coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, a 1941 Lincoln Continental, a 1948 MG-TC, a 1949 Cisitalia 202 GT, and a 1951 Willys-Overland M-38 Jeep.
The exhibit was revolutionary, the first time an art museum featured automobiles. Others art museums have followed suit with exhibits showcasing such themes as “Curves of Steel.”
MoMA not only has displayed automobiles a few times since those first eight, but has nine vehicles as part of its permanent collection. One of them, a 1968 Fiat 500 F which joined the collection in 2017, will be featured from February 10, 2019, to May 27, 2019, in the museum’s “The Value of Good Design” exhibit.
“Featuring objects from domestic furnishings and appliances to ceramics, glass, electronics, transport design, sporting goods, toys, and graphics, The Value of Good Design explores the democratizing potential of design, beginning with MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s through the 1950s, which championed well-designed, affordable contemporary products,” the museum said in its news release.
“The concept of Good Design also took hold well beyond the Museum, with governments on both sides of the Cold War divide embracing it as a vital tool of social and economic reconstruction and technological advancement in the years following World War II, of which the Fiat 500 is a classic example.
“The exhibition also raises questions about what Good Design might mean today, and whether values from mid-century can be translated and redefined for a 21st century audience.”
One other transportation object will be included in the exhibit, a Spacelander bicycle, a futuristic and streamlined post-war design.
Petersen donates a dozen to EV museum
The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has donated 12 vehicles to the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona. While the vehicles may have been non-essential to the Petersen, they represent the largest single donation to the EV museum, where they can be showcased in context.
Among the vehicles are a cutaway of a fuel-cell powered 23 Honda FCX, a 1993 Ford Ecostar that was an early answer to California’s EV mandates, and a solar-powered race car.
“Demonstrating an institution’s professional and scholarly selectivity by transferring non-essential collections objects to another 501(c)3 nonprofit entity without monetary consideration is among the most ethical means of refining a collection,” Leslie Kendall, the Petersen’s chief historian, was quoted in the announcement.
“The Petersen Automotive Museum appreciates the work being done by the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum/Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation in the areas of collecting, preserving and interpreting and believes that they can fully exploit the educational potential of the donation and do so in a publicly responsible way.”
Gilmore sets winter lecture series
The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, has released its winter lecture series lineup. Each presentation begins at 3 p.m.:
January 13 — 19678-69 Looking Back Half A Century on Two Historic Years by Tony Ettwein, author and historian
January 20 — Stories From The Men That Made Henry Ford Famous by Don LaCombe, automotive historian
January 27 — The Good Roads Movement by Jim Craft, author and historian
February 3 — The Silver Streak: And The Gypsy Coeds: aka The Bradford Model T Girls by John Butte, author and collector
February 10 — Built in Battle Creek: Threshers And Steam Tractor Engines by Robb Gillespie, historian
February 17 — Profiles in Citizenship: A Portrait Of Henry Knox and Rosa Parks by Cameron Brown, former state senator
February 24 — Barn Finds: Automotive Archaeology by Ryan Brutt, automotive archaeologist and authro
March 3 — Concept And Production by Patrick Schlavone, retired Ford designer and visiting professor at the College for Creative Studies
March 10 — When Rockets Flew From The Great Lakes States — Michigan’s Contributions to America’s Space Program by Glen Swanson, historian
March 17 — Titanic – Michigan Connections, by Jay Follis, author and historian
March 24 — Designing A Museum Book: Beyond The Content by David Lyon, author and historian
April 7 — Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild: Modeling the Future with panel discussion by former guildsmen
April 14 — Riding Across the Sands of Time: Dune Rides, Dune Scooters, Dune Schooners, Dunesmobiles and Dune Buggies by M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson, authors
April 28 — Route 66: Adventures, Stories and Photographs from Chicago to Santa Monica by John Lacko, photo journalist and historian
Peter Max retrospective
Though it’s not at an art museum, DeRubeis Fine Art of Metal gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, will stage “Peter Max: The Retrospective 1960-2019” from March 14-16. Max, of course, is the famous pop artist known for his work in bright, even psychedelic colors.
But Max also has automotive history. Not only did he once paint Dale Earnhardt’s Goodwrench Chevrolet race car, but you may recall the “greatest barn find ever” of 2010 when the 36 VH1 Peter Max Corvette collection (one from each of the sports car’s early years) was discovered after sitting for 25 years in a public parking garage in New York City.
One of those VH1/Max Corvettes, the 1956 model, was featured in a 2014 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee episode with Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Fallon.
Special events this weekend
A special exhibit celebrating the 50th birthday of former Ferrari racing star Michael Schumacher opens on that date, January 3, 2019, at the Ferrari Museum in Italy. Staged in collaboration with the Keep Fighting Foundation, the exhibit will be staged in several rooms of the museum and will look at his racing career and his involvement in developing Ferrari cars for the roads as well.
The special “Louis to Le Mans” exhibit at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, closes on January 4, 2019. The museum opens its “From Gas Station to Space Station: How NASA Conquered Low-Earth Orbit” exhibit in that same space on January 14.
A special cruise-in and tribute are planned for January 5-6, 2019, as the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles honors the late Carroll Shelby’s birthday. The tribute begins at 6:30 p.m. on January 5 with the cruise-in starting the following day at 9 a.m.
Mark your calendar
Pioneers and adventurers is the theme of the spring lecture series at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, where the program begins January 12, 2019, with a showing of Spitfire, a cinematic account of the British fighter aircraft with British Film Company founder Steve Milne and co-directors David Fairhead and Anthony Palmer.
On January 12, the British Motor Museum hosts the Historic Rally Car Register Open Day and a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the British Motor Corp. Mini. The special event runs from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“From Gas Station to Space Station: How NASA Conquered Low-Earth Orbit” is the title for a special exhibit running January 14-July 30, 2019, at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where the museum and NASA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Another “Legends of Racing History” event is scheduled January 17, 2019, at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California, where a reception from 11 a.m. until 1 pm. will celebrate the display of the 1954 Sutton Jaguar.
“The Goodwood Story” will be presented February 2, 2019, as part of the speaker series at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, where Harry Sherrard, who was involved in the revival of racing at the Goodwood Estate, will discuss Goodwood’s history, from the founding of the Dukedom of Richmond in 1672 by King Charles II to the estate’s history with the Royal Air Ford and the current Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed.
“Pint with the Past” is a beer tasting fundraiser February 16 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan.
In conjunction with the February 16-24 school holiday in England, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu will host a Hands-on Half-Term event featuring its Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 50 Years exhibit with students invited to make like Caractacus Potts and create their own balloon cars and then see how fast they’ll go.
“RADwood: Cleveland Goes Rad” is the title for an exhibit/experience opening January 11, 2019 and running through March 24 at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland. Staged in partnership with RADwood car shows, the exhibit will celebrate 1980s and ‘90s car culture and will showcase vehicles, clothing, music “and everything in between.”
The NASCAR Hall of Fame museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, opens a special “RCR 50: Only in America” exhibit featuring 50 years of Richard Childress Racing in May, 2019.
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has opened registration of its Museum In Motion trip to the 24 hours of Le Mans race in 2019. The dates are June 6-17, 2019, and the trip includes four nights in London and three nights in Paris.
“The Car. The Future. Me” is the title of an exhibit scheduled to open July 13 at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, UK, to explore “futuristic car design and (to) challenge your idea of how we will interact with the cars for the future,” the museum said.
On August 3, 2019, the British Motor Museum will be the site of the Classic Mini Mosaic world-record attempt that is expected to draw more than 600 classic Minis. The following day the museum will be the site of the National Metro & Mini Show.
Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.