California Automobile Museum

Located in Sacramento, California, the California Automobile Museum promotes the history and significance of the automobile. With a variety of cars and information housed in the California Automobile Museum, the museum is divided among different themes. Photo: California Automobile Museum

»History

History


The history of the California Automobile Museum dates back to 1982 when a group of people established a meeting to discuss the possibility of creating an auto museum. The members of the meeting wanted to establish an auto museum in Sacramento, which would be the first type of its kind that is located on the West Coast of the United States. Right before the meeting ended, one of the members held up $100 and asked if anyone else would contribute $100. Quickly, five other people held up $100. This is when the members decided to create an initiative and plan for the museum. Exactly one year after the initial meeting, the California Vehicle Foundation was created.

The California Vehicle Foundation served as an official institution for the group. Every week, members would meet to discuss the museum’s mission and overall plans. Later in the same year, the president of the Golden One Credit Union, John Joyce, gave the museum a restored 1938 Buick sedan. This was the first car to be displayed at the museum.

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Argumentally the biggest event that happened to the California Vehicle Foundation occurred in 1985 when Edward Towe inquired the foundation if they house his extensive Ford collection. Towe was a banker from Montana who owned the most Fords. The foundation found a warehouse that was approximately 72,000 square feet and took Towe’s Ford collection. After spending a few years renovating the warehouse into a pristine museum, the Towe Ford Museum opened. But, the Towe Ford Museum only saw success until the middle of the 1990s. During this time, Towe was faced with a serious tax dispute that led to the IRS auctioning off his Ford collection.

By 2009, the museum no longer held Towe’s Ford collection. So, the Board of Directors reflected on the museum’s plans, mission, and name. Within the same year, the museum became what is known as the California Automobile Museum. The mission to provide a public institutional display of the history of automobiles had stayed consistent. Today, the museum continues to seek out new automobiles to put on display.

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»Permanent Attractions

Permanent Attractions


Make a Move shows the history of the automobile. This exhibit examines how inventors created the foundations for the automobile, and what the typical parts of an automobile include. There are interactive portions to this exhibit that enable visitors to learn the differences and similarities of some of the most innovative and renowned vehicles, as well as the opportunity to voice what could make automobiles better on a cork-board wall.

Cars of the Stars displays some of the most famous cars that were owned by the world’s most popular celebrities, as well as cars that were used for television and movies. Some of the highlighted automobiles include; a 1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000SQV owned by Malcolm Forbes, Ricky Nelson’s 1984 Ford Mustang LX convertible, and Clara Ford’s 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Town Car by Brunn.

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Going Green explores how recent innovations in the automobile industry has pushed to make automobiles more environmentally friendly. The cars on display date back from the early 1900s to modern day.

Car Club Cavalcade is an ongoing exhibit that displays a new selection of cars from a different car club every month. Since the display cars change every month, visit the California Automobile Museum’s website for more information.

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»Special Attractions

Special Attractions

While the bulk of the displays at the California Automobile Museum are permanent attractions, the museum does house some special attractions. Check the California Automobile Museum’s website for an updated list of special attractions.

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Sacramento’s Motorcycle Stories and History is currently the only special attraction at the California Automobile Museum. Special artifacts and stories are on display that are relevant to Sacramento’s motorcycle culture and history. This exhibit is on display until January 19, 2017.

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»Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities


The California Automobile Museum offers a variety of special educational opportunities that range from guided tours to classes. Schools have the option of going on a specialized guided tour to learn more about the museum and automobiles in general. Other programs include classes, such as Docent Training and Clay Modeling.

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2200 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95818, website, Phone: 916-442-6802

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California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, California