Earlier this month, I attended the North American International Auto Show and was able to see the latest and greatest green car models. While in town, I also had the opportunity, thanks to the folks at Ford Motor Company, to catch a sneak peak of a new exhibit opening soon at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. And I can tell you for sure that even if you're not a crazy car fan, this is one exhibit that you'll want to bring the kids to if you're in the area.
The Henry Ford Museum is 80,000 square feet of space dedicated to America's relationship with cars. That's pure heaven for car aficionados looking to catch a glimpse of the '56 T-Bird or Henry Ford's first car, the 1896 Quadricycle. But even if you're not a car buff, you'll find plenty to see and do at this exhibit.
The museum's new permanent exhibit is called "Driving America," and it takes a close, and surprisingly realistic, view of America's love affair with cars — and the car's impact on society. The exhibit is a remarkable mix of hundreds of historically significant vehicles, such as the cool '65 Mustang or the crunchy '59 Volkswagen camper, as well as artifacts, digital media, personal memoirs and interactive displays.
The purpose of the exhibit, according to curator Bob Casey is to look at the big picture of cars in America, from the point of view of drivers for sure — with 130 cool cars, but also exhibits that look at how cars shaped industry, employment, and even history in America.
My favorite exhibit was the mock-up Texaco gas station where kids (and adults) can slide under a full-sized model car to change the muffler or check the oil. At the "Talk Like a Trucker" exhibit, kids can learn the now-obscure radio slang popular with truckers in the 1970s. Don't worry — there's no salty language, just fun phrases like "Smokey Bear in a plain brown wrapper," aka police officer in an unmarked car.
Not really into cars? Check out the slew of presidential cars, including Ronald Reagan's and the car that JFK was shot in, the chair that Lincoln was shot in (at Ford Theatre,) or the bus on which Rosa Parks took a stand by refusing to take a stand.
Stop in at Lamy’s Diner and enjoy a cup of joe and other diner-style grub, while you marvel at how any of us survived our childhoods when you see the museum's collection of car seats over the years.
The "Driving America" exhibit opens to the public on Jan. 29.