HomeCar CultureHarley museum explores motorcycle company’s off-road history

Harley museum explores motorcycle company’s off-road history

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes


The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee opens a new exhibit, “Off-Road Harley-Davidson,” on November 21.

“In the decades before America paved its highways, early riders had to be prepared for all sorts of terrain: sand, clay or dirt – and wandering those makeshift byways were Harley-Davidson motorcycles,” the museum notes. “Today, it’s called off-road or adventure touring; back then it was just called riding. 

“Since 1903, Harley-Davidson motorcycles proved their toughness by riding over wooded hills, through stone-choked creek beds and up mountain sides. ‘Off-road Harley-Davidson’ tells the history of motorcycles designed for rough roads, the people who rode them and the adventures they shared.”

The exhibit also includes the new all-electric LifeWire motorcycle ridden from the tip of South America to Los Angeles by actor and adventurer Ewan McGregor and featured in Long Way Up, an Apple TV documentary.

Also featured at the museum are “Performance Builds from Born-Free,” passion projects from four customizers; “Tex’s Motorcycle,” a painting by Stevan Dohanos, a frequent contributor to the Saturday Evening Post; and “Building a Milwaukee Icon: Harley-Davidson’s Juneau Avenue Factory,” featuring recently recovered architectural drawings and archival photographs.

Simeone, Cal museums temporarily closed

Because of new coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will be closed until further notice.

It’s the same story on the other end of the country as the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento and the California Ag Museum at Woodlandalso closes until further notice because of a Covid-19 surge.

‘Small Wonders’ at Audrain

“Small Wonders: Mini, Micro, Pedal & Toy Cars” is the title of a new exhibition opening November 21 and running through February 14, 2021, at the Audrain Automobile Museum in Newport, Rhode Island.

The exhibition, featuring vehicles ranging from the Fiat 600 Jolly to the Peel P50 and various World War 2-era pedal cars as well as tin and toy cars by Meccano Dinky Toys, opens with a tour led by museum chief executive Donald Osborn to be shared on the museum’s YouTube channel at 7 p.m. (Eastern) on November 20.

Motorbikes featured at AACA

“Motorbike Mania” is the theme of an exhibition at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where the motorized machines from Coleman, Honda, Arctic Cat and even Montgomery Ward are on display, as is a foldable Valmobile scooter from Japan.

Cross-country Model T

The museum also is hosting a Historic Vehicle Association display, currently showcasing a 1915 Ford Model T driven across the country to replicate a 1915 Detroit to San Francisco trip undertaken by a 21-year-old Edsel Ford.

The museum also is selling its 2021 calendar featuring vehicles from its collection. For details, see the museum website.

Ford museum marks 100,000th digitized artifact

The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, has announced its 100,000th digitized artifact, a Fordson tractor.

“Digitization of our collection now underpins much of what we do, and helps us fulfill our mission to inspire people to learn from America’s traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation to help shape a better future,” the museum said in its announcement. 

“For about a decade, The Henry Ford has been systematically adding artifacts to our website, and today we are proud to announce that we have just added our 100,000th artifact. We are using this opportunity to kick off a month-long celebration during the month of November, and will be giving you behind the scenes looks at the digitization process, sharing fun facts about digitization and our Digital Collections, and counting down the most popular digitized artifacts of all time.

“As an institution that holds artifacts in the public trust, we have always cared for them and documented them. But the amazing expansion of the digital realm over the last decade has given us new ways to expand access to our fascinating and significant stories. 

“According to the Pew Research Center, when we embarked on this effort in earnest around 10 years ago, one-quarter of Americans did not use the Internet, only 4 of 10 Americans participated in social media, and American smartphone usage was rare.”

The museum’s first digitized artifact was the 1929 Ford Model A coupe used by Henry Ford.

To see the museum’s digitized collection, visit The Henry Ford website.

NASCAR Hall first to get ‘Star’ honor

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, reports that it is the first museum in the US to earn Global Biorisk Advisory Council “Star” accreditation, the cleaning industry’s honor for a facility’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Under the guidance of GBAC, NASCAR Hall of Fame has implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention and demonstrated compliance with and commitment to the program’s 20 core elements,” the museum said. 

“Program elements range from standard operating procedures and risk assessment strategies to personal protective equipment (PPE) and emergency preparedness measures. GBAC also looks at existing protocols, along with intent and commitment to consistent improvement, ensuring accredited facilities are implementing the best and most up-to-date practices at all times.”

The NASCAR Hall also is decked out for the holidays and offers free admission to children through January 1.

Special events this weekend

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum board will lead a donation-matching challenge through November 23, which means gifts to the museum made by that date will be doubled through the challenge.

To donate, visit the museum website.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts a show for fifth- and sixth-generation Mustangs on November 21 and also is collecting Toys for Tots donations through November 28.

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, hosts its monthly car show November 21 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Mark your calendar

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island offers discounted admission for AAA members on Black Friday, November 27.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, will include vault tours as part of the regular admission fee on November 27.

The National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park opens its Wendy’s Twinkle at the Track drive-through holiday light show on November 27. 

The Owls Head Transportation Museum hosts a “Holiday AirMail Express” car show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on December 6 on Runway 17. The event is free but car reservations are required for the socially distanced event. 

The San Diego Automotive Museum will feature an electric vehicle exhibit from January 22 to May 22, 2021. Among the vehicles on display will be a 1914 Galt gas-electric roadster that has been on loan and on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The Galt’s regular home is the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, where the car is scheduled to return after its San Diego pit stop.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected]

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, 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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