Don’t be Fooled by the Name, this Place Offers Much More than Just a Pretty Face
With 90 acres of land and 189,000 square feet of displays, automotive history comes to life in the little town of Hickory Corners, Michigan. That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to highlighting the many offerings that are a part of the Gilmore Car Museum.
When we say history “comes to life” at the Gilmore Car Museum we mean it. Take, for example, its onsite old fashioned Shell Gas Station, or its display of a 1930 Rolls-Royce that was the actual car used in the Disney® movie “The Gnome Mobile,” then there is a full-service restaurant the Blue Moon Diner, and of course of greatest draw is the museum’s collection of more than 400 vintage automobiles and motorcycles.
As the Gilmore Car Museum puts it “It’s the ultimate experience for everyone, including the young and the young at heart.”
How does North America’s largest auto museum end up in Hickory Corners, Michigan? Flash back to the 1960s when Donald Gilmore began collecting vintage automobiles. Genevieve, Gilmore’s wife, is credited for buying him his first restoration car, a 1920 Pierce Arrow. Gilmore restored the car in his own garage in Gull Lake, Michigan, and it is said to have been what “ignited his passion” for car collecting.
The Mission of the Gilmore Car Museum is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the history of transportation in America; to connect people with the heritage and social impact of the automobile; and to provide an understanding of the past, embrace the present, and imagine the future.
As his collection grew, Gilmore acquired his 90 acres in Hickory Corners to accommodate his many cars. Once again, Gilmore’s wife Genevieve is credited for proposing the idea of turning her husband’s coveted and hand-built collection into a museum. They established a non-profit foundation and on July 31st, 1966, the Gilmore Car Museum officially opened its doors.
“The museum has undergone amazing growth during the last 15 years — Donald Gilmore left a lasting legacy but even he never could have anticipated the impact his impact could have,” said Jay Follis, Director of Marketing for the Gilmore Car Museum
Don’t let the name “museum” fool you, this is not your typical quiet, stuffy, dull experience reminiscent of an old school field trip. What started as a museum has now become a full-blown “campus.” Campus highlights include 12 historic buildings; six partner museums such as the Model A Ford and Lincoln Motorcar Heritage Museums; an extensive automotive research library and archives; a motorcycle gallery, and even a Model T driving school.
With all that going for it, the coolest part of the museum campus according to Follis is “the cars are very accessible – we have very few ropes or barriers so guests can get ‘right up close to history.’”
This place has a “cool factor” that is unrivaled, but don’t take our word for it, make a visit, if not in person then at least a visit to their website or check out this video feature that celebrates the museum’s 2016 50-year anniversary.