HomeCar CultureWorld of Speed museum won’t reopen when pandemic ebbs

World of Speed museum won’t reopen when pandemic ebbs

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes


Just as some car museums are either reopening or preparing for the day when they can, the World of Speed Motorsport Museum in Wilsonville, Oregon, has announced that it will not reopen after being closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Under the Oregon Health Authority’s current guidelines, the museum would fall into Phase Two or Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan, potentially pushing reopening into 2021,” the museum said in its announcement. “Many of our guests, volunteers, students and docents fall into the category of most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, which means efforts to keep everyone safe could push reopening further, even after OHA restrictions are lifted. 

“After much deliberation, our board determined it would be unable to maintain the facility during such an extended closure.”

In its announcement, the museum noted that in compliance with Oregon law, its assets and fund will be distributed to other 501(c)(3) museums and schools.

“This will allow the museum’s collection of historic race cars, boats and motorcycles to live on for future generations to enjoy,” the museum said, adding that the deaccession will take place during the next 8 months.

The museum was founded by Moonstruck Chocolate Company owners Dave and Sally Bany in 2015. The museum was housed in a former car dealership building that included a dozen lifts. Those lifts were used as part of the museum’s automotive educational program.

As former executive director David Schaeffer told the ClassicCars.com Journal in 2016, high schools in the Portland area had abandoned their auto shop classes, so the World of Speed worked with schools and a community college to provide instructors for accredited classes at the museum. 

“Perhaps the museum’s greatest accomplishment was the opportunity it provided high school students to learn the skills needed to work in the automotive industry,” the museum said in its closure announcement. 

“What a thrill it was to see these students grow and move onto fulfilling careers after graduation.”

Muscle Car City reopens May 19

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida plans to reopen its collection and Stingrays grille on May 19. 

Corvette museum opening cafe, store

Although the National Corvette Museum exhibits remain closed, it will reopen its store on May 20 and its cafe on May 22, it has announced. The Corvette Cafe has been open for carry-out only but will offer limited dine-in and full outdoor dining.

The museum also announced that the annual Michelin NCM Bash will become a virtual event May 28-29 with seminars and some other activities available for online viewing.

Miles Through Time sets ‘soft’ opening

Miles Through Time is ready for ‘soft’ opening in its new location | Museum photo

The Miles Through Time Automotive Museum plans a “soft opening” in its new home in Clarkesville, Georgia, on May 23 in anticipation of a formal grand opening for the new building on May 30.

“We aren’t going to do a cruise-in or anything special, but we are going to be open for visitors who want to venture out,” says museum founder Sean Mathis. 

Owls Head cancels multiple special events

In response to reopening guidelines in Maine, the Owls Head Transportation Museum has canceled its auto tour, scheduled for May 30; its spring fling, scheduled for June 6-7; car shows planned for July 11-12 and 18-19; and even the 45th annual Wings & Wheels Spectacular, which was to be held August 1-2.

Revs Institute sets its first virtual cars & coffee

The Revs Institute (Collier Collection) in Naples, Florida, will host a virtual cars & coffee event from 10 a.m. until noon on May 23. At the conclusion of the event, a video will show the reunion of Gerard Larrousse with the 1967 Porsche 911R he drove to victory in the Tour de France and the Tour de Corse in 1969. For details on participating in the cars & coffee, see the Revs Facebook page.

Bill Grams, Volo co-founder dies, 77

Bill Grams

Bill Grams, co-founder of the Volo Auto Museum near Chicago, has died at age 77, the museum announced. Grams founded the museum with his younger brother, Greg, in 1960, on property where their father had a dairy farm and sold antiques. The brothers tinkered with cars as teenagers and did well enough at their work that people started coming to see those cars, which became the foundation for a museum which drew as many as 250,000 people a year.

The museum is both a museum and a collector car sales center that fills several buildings.

Porsche Museum offers digital tour

Porsche Museum plans hour-long online tour in a variety of languages | Museum photo

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche have reopened their corporate museums in Germany, albeit on a restricted basis, but the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart plans to “open its doors to one and all” on May 17  in celebration of the 43rd International Museum Day.

“Digital diversity is more important than ever in times like these, where travel is a greater challenge than ever before,” said Achim Stejskal, who heads Porsche Heritage and Museum. “We have been consistently driving forward the expansion of digital offerings not just since the corona crisis, but for years. We would like to use modern channels to demonstrate the heritage and future of the brand, not just at our site in Zuffenhausen, but beyond the museum as well”.

So here’s the plan: On May 17, guides will lead an hour-long tour of the museum on Instagram — @porsche.museum.

“They will look at special exhibits and offer an insight into the company history,” the museum said in its announcement. “The digital live tours will include prototypes, small exhibits, racing cars and series production cars. 

“Anyone who is interested can watch the first tour on Instagram which starts in German at 18:30 hrs, or the second one which starts in English at 00:00 hrs (CEST). The times have purposefully been set outside the regular opening times – true to the motto: “The museum for everyone.” 

In addition, the tours also will be recorded in Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Croatian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish and will be available on the Porsche News TV outlet.

Mercedes Museum launches video series

Pádraic Ó Leanacháin takes a peek under the hood of the Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster in the first episode of a new online video series | Museum photo

“Exclusive insights: The Cars of the Mercedes-Benz Museum” is the title of a new video series on Instagram TV that focuses on 7 vehicle from the automaker’s collection. The series is designed to provide details often hidden from museum visitors, including a look under the hood.

“The series can be seen on the Instagram channels @mercedesbenzmuseum and @mercedesbenz,” the museum said in its news release.

“The series will now continue at a regular pace with exclusive insights and a new episode will be released every week. The series consists of video clips approximately six to nine minutes long in portrait format 9:16, which means they are ideally tailored to the screens of smartphones and tablets.

Here’s the link to the first segment, on the 500 K Special Roadster.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
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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