Choose your own exhibit adventure
Museum asks public to choose among classic cars ready for exhibition
Smithsonian asks public to vote on which classic American cars to put on display.
Ever picture yourself as curator to the nation’s most famous repository of American history? Here’s your chance, sort of. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is inviting people to
make a quick-click voteonwhich two cars from America past that they most want to see on display in January and February.
The “Race to theMuseum” vote started as an attempt to attract local visitors during winter months, when tourism is usually down. Fourteen cars are on display in the “ America on theMove” exhibit, which features a chronological look at transportation in America from the 1800s to 1999. But 73 cars are in storage. Curator Roger White selected eight of those for visitors to vote on, with writeups of each on the Race to the Museum
The cars are stand-ins for American striving; gleaming or chromed out or whitewalled projections of our most powerful, creative or whimsical selves. They’re about all the places that we hoped new technologies would carry us.
Maybe you’d like the Long steam tricycle from the 1880s; it weighs 350 pounds, and was built by a carpenter in Northfield, Mass., as a takeoff on the highwheel bicycle craze of the times, according to the blog.
Or perhaps the 1953 Glasspar sports car — convertible, red and James Bond cool— strikes your fancy. The 1894 Balzer automobile (which resembles a buggytype wheelchair) needs only a gentleman driver tipping his hat to awestruck neighbors as he shows off his newfangled version of a Sunday stroll.
The 1997 EV1 electric car is a nod to eco-friendly before eco-friendly was cool (or cute!). The 1987 GM Sunraycer solar car is “about as close to a Frisbee as a car can look,” says Melinda Machado, director of public affairs for the museum.
The gleaming Tucker sedan, the 39th of only 51 made, was heavy on safety, featuring a padded dashboard. This 1948 car was seized in a drug arrest and given to the Smithsonian by the U.S. Marshals Service.
With more than 16,000 votes so far — the contest started in mid-December — the Tucker sedan has been in the lead, along with a burgundy and gold 1929 Miller racecar, whose shape closely resembles a Doberman pinscher’s nose.
“ The Miller racecar is most reminiscent of the ‘ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ car,” Machado says. “I don’t know what it is about this little race car, but it’s certainly touching the hearts of people.”
Voting for the “Race to the Museum” cars closes Jan. 11.
1997: EV1 electric car.
1880S: Long steam tricycle.
1894: Balzer automobile.
1903: Oldsmobile curved-dash runabout.
1987: GMSunraycer solar car.
1953: Glasspar sports car.
1929: Miller racecar.
1948: Tucker sedan.