Car museums preparing to reopen

Petersen announced plans for a virtual car week in August

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Roland Asch tries on a vintage leather helmet as he prepares the take a historic Mercedes-Simplex racing car out for a few laps in 2019 | Mercedes Museum photos

Once we begin to emerge from our lockdowns and are allowed to return to public places, the staffs of car museums have been preparing to welcome you back with sparkling and cleaned facilities and many new exhibits. A couple — the Miles Through Time Museum in Georgia and the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California — will be in brand-new buildings.

The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany will be the first to reopen, starting May 9, with the BMW Museum in Munich opening on the 12. However, both facilities will open with restrictions.

For example, the Mercedes facility will be open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the number of visitors will be restricted, and social-distancing and hygiene rules will be in place, including a requirement for face masks to be worn by those aged 6 and older. The BMW building will resume its regular hours, but will practice social-distancing measures and require guests to be masked.

“I am very pleased that we are finally able to reopen our Museum,” said Monja Budke, museum director. “Unfortunately, however, international guests, school classes and groups of travellers, who normally visit us during the week, are not yet permitted to come by. This is why we are concentrating on the period from Friday to Sunday. We are mainly expecting local visitors.”

Among the exhibits featured as the museum reopens are what it calls the “33 Extras,” items that “draw visitors’ attention to fascinating details in the history of mobility and bring automotive culture to life.”

‘Der Autler’ is a songbook for tunes to sing while driving
Another of the ’33 Extras’ is a display of tight-fitting women’s headware, needed because wide-brimmed hats would fly off in early open vehicles

What sort of things are included in the “33 Extras”? Well, there’s a leather “helmet” of the sort worn by early auto racing drivers, not necessarily for protection in a crash but to cover their ears and thus to help deaden the deafening noise of the racing engine exhaust.

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There’s also Der Autler (an obsolete German word for “motorist”), which is the title of a book published in 1902 not to teach someone about cars but as a song book full of tunes to sing while driving or riding in one of the new motorcars. 

Among the other “Extras” are a bobble-head sausage dog, a scented tree ornament and a windshield wiper. 

Gilmore has matching funds available

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, is among those facilities getting ready not only to reopen, but to expand with plans for a new muscle car building. It also has been offered a $40,000 matching grant from a donor who will use that money to match new memberships or donations through the end of May.

For details, visit the museum website.

Mustang museum sets scavenger hunt

Owners of Ford Mustangs have to register by May 14 to take part in the free Mustang Photo Scavenger Hunt that begins May 17 and is being staged by the Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina.

On May 16, each driver/co-pilot team will receive a list of things to photograph, and will have until 6 p.m. of their local time to secure its photos, which will be submitted to the museum for scoring. Items to be photographed will have points values. The top 3 teams from each country will receive prizes.

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“The goal of the Mustang Photo Scavenger Hunt is to provide an opportunity for Mustang enthusiasts get out and enjoy a few hours with their Mustang and then share their experience,” the museum said in its announcement.

For more information, and the registration form, visit the museum’s website.

Museums share collections via internet

Until they can open their doors to visitors, many museums are using the internet to share details of their collections, even to preview new exhibits.

Some examples:

On Tuesdays through May 19, at 10 a.m. (Pacific time), the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, offers online (Instagram) visits featuring its cars with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, travels to Miami Beach as a showcase for its Age of Aquarius exhibition.

The Petersen Automotive Museum hosted an online video tour not of cars from its collection, but of the Galpin Motors collection, with Beau Boeckmann leading an 11-minute walk through the family-owned dealership’s amazing car collection.

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Museum in Daytona Beach, Florida, recruited Thomas R. Miller Photography to create a 3½-minute video tour of the museum collection to whet your eagerness to visit once the doors can be opened again.

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island has launched a video series to showcase various vehicles from its collection, starting with a 1959 Cadillac Series 62 convertible, which it notes is “the perfect vehicle for social distancing,” with a backseat passenger 6-feet away from the driver.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum also has a video series, featuring not only its cars but historian Donald Davidson, a walking talking encyclopedia of all things Indy 500.

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Petersen planning its own Car Week in August

While promising details on May 15, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles issued a news release this week proclaiming it would host its own “virtual car week from August 12-16, 2020.” It promises a full week of virtual events including “live vehicle debuts, online auctions, exclusive interviews, car shows and a celebrity-judged concours.”

Read on and it sounds as if we might be having Monterey Car Week, but the venue is moving from the peninsula in Northern California to the museum’s YouTube channel.

The programming actually begins August 1 with several days of “The Road to Petersen Car Week” exploring what it takes to prepare a car for a concours, the museum said. There will be a “kickoff show” on August 12; a virtual tour d’elegance, live auction and vehicle unveil on August 13; a Porsche show, auction and vehicle spotlight on August 15; vintage racing, a hypercar show and auction on August 15; and the Petersen Concours d’Elegance and concept car showing on August 16.

“Given the circumstances, we are happy to provide a new experience for global enthusiasts by offering some of the key aspects of the week,” Terry Karges, the museum’s executive director is quoted in the news release. “Although we’d much rather be enjoying car week in person, we are excited to distill the essence of Monterey Car Week into something virtual and make the events accessible to everyone.”

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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