Museums have impossible business models during the coronavirus. But in the business of celebrating history, creativity reigns. When public visits aren’t feasible, creativity prevails.
Like many museums, automobile museums can virtually present their exhibits. Car enthusiasts and history buffs can still enjoy the legacies of vintage vehicles.
Jeff Bliemeister, executive director of the AACA Museum in Hersey, Pennsylvania, is our guest this week on The Weekly Driver Podcast.
AACA Museum features Tucker
Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss with Bliemeister how the facility, one of the country’s most prominent auto museums, maintains its online videos, tours and special exhibits without allowing physical visitors.
Bliemeister, an avid vintage car and truck enthusiast, explains in a series of videos the exhibits featured the 71,000-square foot facility that opened in 2003. We’ve included Part 1 of 3 celebrating Tucker, with Bliemeister as the commentator.
Close to the Hersey’s Chocolate World, the vehicle collectors’ nirvana is self-described as “Offering noteworthy exhibits and an ever-growing permanent collection and welcoming guests of all ages to enjoy the wonders of invention, interactive educational displays, famous and one-of-a-kind vehicles, and family fun.”
In addition to a half-dozen permanent exhibits, the facility has numerous classes, including learning how to drive a Ford Model-T.
While the various galleries cover a wide range of automotive eras, the AACA is widely heralded for its designated as having the world’s largest collection of Tucker Automobiles and memorabilia. It’s officially called the Cammack Tucker Collection and is named after Tucker historian and collector David Cammack.
A focus on the 1940s wouldn’t be complete with a detailed examination of Preston Tucker and his innovative vehicles. The display is an interactive exhibit chronicling Tucker’s vision, determination, and struggles to build the “Car of Tomorrow.” The Tucker history is presented on the AACA website in a three-part virtual tour.
The AACA Museum, which also houses the Museum of Bus Transportation Collection, sponsors workshops and activities designed to raise public awareness and appreciation of the role the automobile has played in shaping 20th century America.
A popular exhibit started in the spring of 2020 is The “Age of Aquarius.”
According to the museum, the exhibition “harkens back to the era of tie-dye and muscle cars. Times were changing. So were the vehicles manufactured and marketed from 1967 (the release of the Broadway musical Hair) through the mid-1970s. The ‘flower power’ generation manifested itself vividly in the bold cars produced in Detroit and beyond.”
Another recent exhibit in the museum’s Williams-Clyne Gallery features DeSoto. The display, guest curated by the Colonial Chapter of the National DeSoto Club, features vintage vehicles, along with an array of DeSoto dealer promotional material, magazine advertisements, and memorabilia.
From the beginning
Chrysler Corporation introduced the DeSoto brand in 1928 to fill the more upscale role in Chrysler’s offerings. Wanting the car to be perceived as strong and exotic, Walter Chrysler named the division after the famed Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.
Additional displays include elaborate collections of horn buttons, 5000 model busses and a display of Pennsylvania law enforcement vehicles. Classes for students of all ages are offered. Volunteer opportunities and membership are also available.
Visit the AACA Museum HERE.
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Article Last Updated: August 27, 2021.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.