Driving America, the new automotive exhibit at The Henry Ford, opened yesterday to the public. It features 130 vehicles, interactive displays and artifacts that tell the story of American car culture. The difference between this new permanent exhibit and its previous incarnation is that it looks at cars and the automotive industry through the consumer’s eyes.
It is really an interactive, state-of-the-art story of us—us as drivers, consumers and enthusiasts. It examines the car as an innovation and explores how it has changed almost every aspect of our lives and heavily influenced the decisions we make. It is an exhibition that resonates with us all and it will challenge us to think differently about what we drive. ~ Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford.
The exhibit starts at transportation before the car and takes us on a journey through an impressive timeline of vehicles from the 1909 Ford Model T to the first Plymouth Voyager minivan and an electric Ford Focus. What makes Driving America a standout exhibit is the way it looks at how the car has impacted other facets of our lives. From child safety seats (which didn’t exist when I was a kid) to drive-through restaurants to the motel, the exhibit demonstrates the impact the automotive industry has had on our every day life.
The touch screen kiosks allow visitors to explore the collection digitally and, by using Radio Frequency Identification cards, they can access their own personal collection on their home computer or mobile devices.The interactive displays feature games and activities that are clever, fun and educational.
A few of my favorites at Driving America:
Talk Like a Trucker – Test your CB trucker language. 10-4, good buddy!
Texaco Service Bay – Kids can get under this scaled down car and change mufflers and tires and perform other tasks just like a real mechanic.
Lamy’s Diner – Previously you could walk through the nostalgic diner but now you’ll be able to eat there! Grab a coffee or snack and either sit inside the diner or out on the new patio.
Create a Car Commercial – Everyone wants to be an Ad Man, right? Create your own commercial using graphics, jingles and video clips.
What I really love about Driving America is that there is something for everyone—gearheads, classic car buffs, motorsport fans, kids and everyone who has ever lusted after a particular car or owned a car—will find something that interests them. For those that don’t know, my work life revolves around cars these days so I found some parts of the exhibit more enjoyable and informative than I would have before my new job. In the past, I might not have spent so much time in the racing and motorsports section but now I was enthralled with the old racecars.
The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village is one of our local gems in metro Detroit and we should be proud that we have this cultural institution on our doorstep. Driving America is another reason to head out to Dearborn and immerse ourselves in history.