NAAM E-NEWS MARCH 2019, Volume 21, Issue 1

March 7, 2019 in Newsletter by Courtney Meredith

NAAM E-NEWS - MARCH 2019, Volume 21, Issue 1

In This Issue

President's Message

By: Matt Anderson

Greetings NAAM Members,

As I put this column together, I’ve been talking frequently with Pat Slebonick and his fantastic team at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. They’re eager to host us for our 2019 annual conference, and I can’t wait to get there. We’ve put together a terrific set of presentations, tours and programs that are sure to inspire.

We’ll begin with our traditional opening reception, sponsored this year by exhibit design firm Group Delphi. We’ll gather for food and fun in the ballroom of Aloft, our host hotel. Having stayed there just last year, I can attest to our accommodations. It’s a beautiful, recently-renovated hotel located in the heart of downtown South Bend, just a few blocks east of the Studebaker Museum’s campus (though shuttle buses will also be available).

Our Wednesday sessions take place at the Studebaker National Museum. We’ll begin with a breakfast, sponsored by our friends at Reliable Carriers, and a special reception for first-time conference attendees. Our morning session features a presentation by Allison Titman, an Accreditation Officer with the American Alliance of Museums. Allison will introduce us to AAM’s Continuum of Excellence program, which offers all the necessary tools to start your museum on the road to accreditation.

We’ll then take a tour of the Oliver Mansion – “Copshaholm” – located next door to the Studebaker Museum and operated by the adjoining History Museum. This magnificent home was built in 1895-96 by J.D. Oliver, president of South Bend’s Oliver Chilled Plow Works. We’ll enjoy lunch in the mansion’s Carriage House, now used by the History Museum as an activity space.

Our Wednesday afternoon sessions begin with a presentation from Kansas City Auto Museum’s Executive Director Vreni Fernandez. Vreni will share some of her secrets for building and sustaining her museum’s slate of successful events. We’ll follow with a panel discussion, moderated by yours truly, about a unique collaborative exhibit produced by the Studebaker National Museum and the Society of Automotive Historians. The vehicles in the “Ten Cars that Changed the World” show were selected by popular vote from a group of SAH (and NAAM) members. Our afternoon sessions conclude with a presentation from Leslie Kendall, Senior Historian at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Leslie will lead a thoughtful discussion on the challenges of balancing our core function – the preservation and interpretation of our collections – with external demands in the form of car shows, concours d’elegance, and other off-site events.

We’ll conclude our Wednesday with a tour of the Studebaker National Museum and its adjacent archives facility. Those who’ve not visited before are in for a treat. The Studebaker’s collection is a gem. It covers all facets of the company’s rich history – from its 19th-century rein as the world’s largest manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles, to its dramatic post-World War II automobiles styled by giants like Raymond Loewy, Virgil Exner, and Bob Bourke.

Thursday is our tour day. We’ve arranged visits to a number of impressive private collections in the greater South Bend area. We’ll also stop by LaVine Restorations, in nearby Nappanee, for a tour of their facilities. For more than four decades, LaVine has been a leader in the restoration of vintage American and European automobiles. We’ll end our travel day with a stop at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart. For years, that city has been defined by its two biggest industries: band instruments and recreational vehicles – with companies like Forest River, Thor Industries, and Jayco still located in the area. The museum itself, founded in 1972, is a 100,000 square-foot facility with historic vehicles from the past 100 years, a library holding more than 20,000 industry publications, and a hall of fame including over 400 leaders in recreational vehicle design, manufacture, and sales.

On Friday we hit the books again with a day of sessions at Aloft Hotel. We’ll start with an interesting – and entertaining – look at the mistakes we’ve all made at our institutions. Pat Slebonick, Executive Director at the Studebaker National Museum, will share a misstep or two of his own (and we’ll hope he doesn’t count hosting our conference among them!), and then call for other examples from the audience. There’s value in every mistake – provided we learn something from it. Pat’s talk is followed by a panel on conservation versus restoration, brought to us by Aaron Warkentin, Curator of Collections at the Studebaker National Museum, Derek Moore, Curator at the National Corvette Museum, and Collin Howard, Project Manager at BR Howard & Associates. We’ll end the morning with a presentation from the eminent automotive author and historian Ken Gross. Ken will share new interpretation techniques to keep our audiences engaged and encourage repeat visits.

In the afternoon we’ll try something new. In two different time blocks, we’ll offer the option of two different sessions. In the first block, you’ll have the choice of attending 1.) a presentation on the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – the largest overhaul of U.S. tax policy in decades – by accountants Adam Schwelnus and Margene Zink of Kruggel Lawton CPAs; or 2.) a talk on the Old School Car Club – founded to promote automotive design history – with club leaders Cliff Krapfl and Mike Herbert. In the second afternoon block, you can choose between 1.) a presentation on Conner Prairie’s popular “Festival of Machines” event, given by Chris Petrelli, the living history museum’s Senior Director of Museum Experiences; or 2.) a look at The Henry Ford’s efforts to move its automobiles and collections to a new on-site storage building, presented by Objects Conservator Cuong Nguyen. These split sessions allow conference attendees to customize their afternoon experience based on their own professional needs and interests.

We’ll close out the afternoon – and the formal portion of the conference – with a plenary session from our friends at Hagerty, a major NAAM sponsor and our conference presenter. Hagerty’s Nicolle Girard and Jonathan Stein will give us a look at the insurer’s recently-revamped Hagerty Drivers Club. Hagerty would like to partner with individual NAAM member museums to cross-promote their activities via special discounts and activities for Hagerty Drivers Club members.

We end our time together with our annual banquet and the presentation of the NAAMY awards, recognizing excellence in the automotive museum field. Our banquet will take place at the Vault Banquet Room in the Exchange Whisky Bar, located just steps from Aloft Hotel. The Vault occupies the 1913 Citizens’ Bank and Trust Building – a marvelous example of historic preservation and adaptive re-use.

Clearly, we’ll have a lot to see and do while we’re together in South Bend. But, if you’ve got some extra time, remember that the area offers much more. You can visit the celebrated University of Notre Dame; indulge in an ice cream treat at the South Bend Chocolate Company; explore the charming lakeside communities of southwest Michigan; or ride west to Chicago aboard the last surviving interurban railway in the United States. We’re in for a great week of inspiration and celebration. I hope to see you there!

All the best,

Matt Anderson

President, National Association of Automobile Museums

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The National Association of Automobile Museums is a professional center of excellence for automobile museums and affiliated organizations that supports, educates and encourages members to operate according to professional standards of the museum industry.

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To be sustainable, NAAM member institutions must continue to grow their audiences and maintain their relevance in their communities. To that end, the 2019 conference theme is “Always Give More than you Promise,” a slogan borrowed from the Studebaker Bros. Manufacturing Company. Automobile museums promise their visitors cars, and we certainly deliver on that. But we need to go further and present the human stories behind those automobiles – stories about the people who designed, built, and drove them. Those stories can help to make our collections relatable to modern audiences.

The goal of our conference is to provide attendees with the tools to innovate, adapt and enhance all aspects of their museum operations. Sessions will examine administrative topics, curatorial concerns, interpretative strategies, programming, visitor engagement, and collaborative opportunities. The annual conference is our chance to network, to share stories and techniques, and to learn from each other’s experiences.

Registration Form

Conference Schedule

Hosted by: Studebaker National Museum

Conference Dates: March 19- 22nd

Registration Deadline: March 15

Host Hotel: Aloft South Bend

Host Hotel Address: 111 North Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601

Host Hotel Number: (574) 288-8000

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Thoughts From a New Curator

By Sam Grate

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

For those of you who do not know, I was recently promoted to Curator of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, having previously been the Collections Manager and the Registrar before that. I have been able to grow in my knowledge and experience in working with two different curators with their own unique thoughts and ideas of exhibit layout and design, interpretation, and outreach. The background knowledge and experience I gained having worked at the museum prior has allowed me to jump right into the position, new thoughts and ideas rummaging around in my mind.

I have given thought to those billion-dollar ideas that come across the minds of all museum professionals: How do we get more people to visit the museum? How can I make the collection (in my case, consisting mostly of automobiles earlier than 1937) more relevant to people today? The answer to those questions and others is that I have no answer, but they are a good set of driving points from which to base new thoughts and ideas to improve the museum experience for every set of visitors.

All of the messages of congrats and support have been overwhelming, as have the archival and curatorial requests for archival materials, appointments, and the like. As of this writing, I have recorded 52 different requests. I see the overall interest in the museum and the history as a great positive and I aim to do my best in my responses, research, and in keeping the interest in place.

To begin, aside from other curator responsibilities, I’m focusing on several different areas for improvement in the museum, specifically improving the galleries, increasing outreach, and increasing accessibility to the museum collection. These all play a crucial part in the overall goal of increasing the already high-quality museum experience already enjoyed by visitors to the museum.

Improving the galleries can mean many different things. In visits to other museums and in past NAAM conferences, I absorbed many different ideas and ways to look at and interact with automobiles and their related objects. I took many photos as well! I believe interactives are the best way to engage with different audiences of all ages. Currently, we’re working on a cutaway Auburn transmission which will very slowly turn, allowing visitors to see the gears shift and how it affects the input and output speeds. We are working on a Duesenberg chassis which can be used for restorers, research, and a is great way to show the inner workings of such a powerful automobile. In addition, getting new loans with new objects on display is a great use for the galleries. For example in the Company Showroom, we recently displayed 2005, 2006, and 2018 Ford GT’s, the supercars of our time, alongside Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs, the supercars of their time. Included was a display case showing the different body colors, stripe colors, rim and brake colors, and interior options for the 2018 Ford GT, just as many cars in the 1930s offered different body styles, colors, and interior options. It was an interpretive and contextual pairing that had never been done before at the museum, and one that was generally well-received and brought in people that seemingly may not have visited otherwise. I endeavor to offer more pairings and contexts in the future.

Increasing outreach is key to a growing and improving institution. Aside from a new and cleaner website and social media strategy, I plan on taking more museum-owned automobiles to shows and events. We are participating in five concours this year. With a new education manager, new activities and educational programs are being created with outreach to new groups that generally do not visit the museum. Using our education-use designated automobiles, I want to allow more students to get in the cars and see everything up close. I’ll never forget a group of second graders absolutely loving the fact that the windows required rolling up and down rather than pushing a button! What other good ways of outreach are there that are collections based? What else are other car museums striving for? I would love to know and hear from other museums!

Lastly is increasing accessibility to the collection. There are so many thoughts going through my head about this one. Having recently catalogued our entire small artifact collection and entered it into our PastPerfect database, it is a good opportunity to bring it out to the public. I am looking at utilizing the PastPerfect online capabilities to bring the small artifact collection to the public. Coupled with our archives digitization project, this database will have a wide variety of uses for the public. There are already a few Virtual Exhibits on the museum’s website based from archival materials.

Overall, there are exciting things happening at the museum and with the collection. I strive to do the best that I can, and to do my best to preserve and faithfully interpret the collection and the history we represent. I look forward to joining with all other automobile museums in doing my part to share, display, interpret, and preserve the car culture and history and to keep it in the public eye! Thank you.

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Join the new NAAM Facebook Group! This space is in conjunction with the NAAM Online Community and is a great place to share successes and challenges, gather ideas, and network with member museums. Go to

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Tupelo Automobile Museum- Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo Automobile Museum Closing March 31, 2019- Auction Details

The Tupelo Automobile Museum, founded by Frank K. Spain, opened its doors on December 7, 2002. The 120,000 sq ft museum houses over 160 cars of Mr. Spain’s historic automobile collection and is centrally located in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi. In 2003, the Tupelo Automobile Museum became the State of Mississippi’s official automobile museum and is currently ranked #1 for Mississippi’s top attraction by TripAdvisor as a must-see destination for travelers.

The purpose of the museum was to celebrate the engineering, technical innovations and designs of generations of risk takers and innovators from the late 1800s to today. The vision of Frank Spain was to share this amazing collection with the public of all ages and backgrounds and to generate funds for his charitable foundation which is dedicated to supporting innovative educational projects.

After 16 years of operation and thousands of guests from around the world, the Tupelo Automobile Museum at 1 Otis Blvd, Tupelo, MS, will close its doors March 31, 2019. Through a partnership with Bonhams Auctioneers and consultant Wayne Carini of Velocity Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars television program, a no reserve auction will take place at the museum on April 26-27, 2019.

Celebrating Frank Spain’s passion for the automobile on a world stage, the sale will be broadcast live, and all sales proceeds will benefit the charitable educational foundation to continue his mission.

Tupelo Automobile Museum appreciates NAAM and all the members who have graciously supported them over the years. Auction details can be found at

- For all inquiries and questions related to this event and release please contact:

Stephen Mancuso, Director of Collections
Tupelo Automobile Museum
1 Otis Blvd
Tupelo Mississippi 38804

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Lincoln Motor Car Heritage Museum & Research Center- Hickory Corners, MI

The Lincoln Motor Car Foundation, which oversaw construction of the Lincoln Motor Car Museum & Research Center in Hickory Corners, Michigan, is now in the midst of a capital campaign to fund the museum’s endowment. The museum, which opened in 2014, was built without incurring debt and is now two-thirds of the way to establishing a $1.5 million endowment fund, which ensures continued operation of the museum.

During the past year, the museum has placed on display a 1922 Lincoln camp car that had been used by Henry Ford and friends as they toured the United States in the 1920s. The car is on loan from The Henry Ford. The museum also received a 2018 Lincoln Continental prototype and 1/10 clay scale model of the Continental from the Lincoln Styling Department.

Earlier, the museum received the donation of a 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible, the loan of a one- off 1927 Lincoln Fleetwood Imperial Victoria and received a donation of a restored World War One Liberty V-12 motor built by the original Lincoln Motor Company prior to it being reincorporated to build automobiles.

At present, the foundation is in the midst of a capital campaign, to build an endowment for ongoing museum operations. The target goal of $1.5 million is still $500,000 short as of this writing.

The sixth annual Lincoln Homecoming will be held on August 8-12 on the grounds of the Lincoln Motor Car Heritage Museum in Hickory Corners.

The foundation is composed of the four major Lincoln clubs: the Lincoln Owners Club, Lincoln-Zephyr Owners Club, Lincoln & Continental Owners Club and Road Race Lincoln Register.

-David Schultz, Chairman

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For Sale

Folk art black metal facsimiles: 1916 Ford, 1915 Maxwell, 1910 Simplex.

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 Vehicle for Donation

2000 Honda Insight available for donation to any auto museum. Reported to be in very good appearance and has 200,000 miles. Please contact William Brown directly if interested at

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