The Gilmore Car Museum had its beginnings in the 1960s, when Donald S. Gilmore started to collect vintage automobiles. Some of the first ones he collected were a 1920 Pierce Arrow, a 1913 Rolls Royce, and a 1927 Ford Model T. Gilmore became passionate about collecting cars after restoring the Pierce Arrow, and continued to collect world-renowned automobiles. He bought 90 acres of land near Hickory Corners in southwestern Michigan to accommodate his growing collection. Gilmore's wife Genevieve thought of the idea of creating a museum from the automobile collections, and in 1966 they opened their museum to the public.
With more than 180,000 square feet of space, the Gilmore Car Museum is today North America's largest automobile museum. The historic campus of the museum includes several vintage buildings, such as a 1930s Shell station, six partner museums, a train depot, and a restored 1941 Silk City diner, among many others. In addition to the outstanding automobile collection, visitors can also explore more than 100 restored children's pedal cars as well as one of the largest automotive mascot displays in North America.
Displayed throughout the Gilmore Car Museum are numerous pieces of stunning classic automotive artwork. Included among these dazzling pieces are watercolor renditions by Roland L. Stickney, paintings of famous automotive advertisements by Art Fitzpatrick, and the Passing of the Horse, a 1983 limited edition Stanley Wanlass bronze sculpture that greets guests as they come inside the Automotive Heritage Center. Vintage dealerships are also on display at the museum. These include a 1918 dealership for the country's most successful air-cooled automobile, the Franklin, and accurately detailed vintage dealerships for Cadillac, Lincoln, and Ford. Visitors will feel as if they have stepped back in time.
The Gilmore Car Museum consists of both year-round exhibits and seasonal exhibits. Some of these seasonal exhibits include George & Sally's 1941 Blue Moon Diner, Automotive Mascots, and Disney Magic and More. The Blue Moon Diner is a historic, restored roadside diner that was saved from Meriden, Connecticut. Since 2004, it has served thousands of guests to the museum. The Automotive Mascots exhibit features thousands of mascots, both iconic trademarks and custom-designs, once used by drivers of a bygone era. Disney Magic and More features pedal cars, vintage toys, and Disney magic that will delight both kids and kids at heart. The highlight here is the only movie set that has ever left Walt Disney Studios. The car and studio set of The Gnome-Mobile, the 1967 Walt Disney film, can only be seen at the Gilmore Car Museum.
Also on display at the Gilmore Car Museum is a Shell gas station from the 1930s. This authentic replica features a large amount of memorabilia from the time period, back when a gallon of gas only cost 18 cents. Inside are public restrooms, Shell memorabilia, and gas pump globes. The museum doesn't just showcase cars, there are also several motorcycles for visitors to see. Rare examples of motorcycles from the past can be seen in the Motorcycle Gallery, including a 1910 Cleveland, a 1947 Indian Chief, and the 1952 Triumph Trophy TR5 that The Fonz rode on Happy Days.
6865 West Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, MI 49060, Phone: 269-671-5089
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