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nick8086

How often does this happen??

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That is a sad story, and it does bring the museums integrity into question. Several years ago I had discussed loaning a collection of radiator emblems to a museum for an exhibit of automotive art, until a friend who worked at the museum advised against it. It's stories like this that support his cautionary advice.

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 I was going to donate a AA/Dragster to an auto museum until they told me that they may only display it for a year and then use it for parts for another displays.

 

 (AA/D, 8.34 sec @ 164 MPH on gas in 1961)

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Most people do not realize that once you donate something to a museum they can choose to do with it what they please. They can sell it, destroy it, lose it, send it home with a board member as a Christmas gift. Lots of crazy things can happen. So if you are going to donate a car or loan a car you better ask lots of questions and get lots of answers. Do not settle for vague answers or speculation. Remember that a museum can get a new director or curator who may not like what you donated and they will make it disappear. Or a board member may like it a little too much and it will disappear.

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Make certain to tell the museum you are LOANING it to them and chances are, they will not liquidate or destroy it. I would also suggest that you visit the display often to be certain they know you are aware of it's condition. As stated above, if you DONATE to the museum, they can do whatever they want with the item(s).

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Museums are very very hard to maintain as viable.  Think of all the ones that have come and gone in the last 50 years.   The Chrysler Museum being a prime example.   Because of that, they need to sell inventory every so often and your prized donated car can get sold off to keep the museum functioning. 

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The Crawford Auto Museum in Cleveland sold many of their cars a few year ago. The automobile collection is now a shell of what it once was. It is very sad.

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A number of years ago, I participated in a Studebaker car club display at a local car museum.   The museum highlighted a different car club monthly and I agreed to display my 1928 Studebaker President for the one month our club was featured.  

Unfortunately, when I went to pick up my car at the conclusion of the one month display, I discovered the left side headlight bucket was damaged.   While the car was behind a rope barrier someone had opened the left side of the hood and hit the top of the headlight bucket leaving a large dent and scratch.  The damaged lined up perfectly with the left front corner of the hood if you are not careful when lowering the hood.  

I spoke with the museum director about the damage and she was willing to get the headlight bucket repaired, however, my 1928 President was an original unrestored car.   Restoring, or repairing, one head light bucket and not the other effects the originality of the car.   I declined the offer for repair and only wanted to stress to the director of the museum that the museum staff and docents need to be more vigilant about not messing with cars that are on loan for display.   I am sure the damage was done by a member of the staff who wanted to check out the engine and did not know what they were doing when closing the hood.  

Attached is a picture of the 1928 Studebaker FA President at the time I sold the car shortly after the museum incident occurred.  

28Pres.2.jpg

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I worked with a group trying to establish an automotive museum in Rochester, New York, a place with a very rich car history. I still have some federal guidelines on my bookshelf.

 

It became apparent, very quickly, that to use the name "museum" for a nonprofit organization we had to give up management as car hobbyists and turn the operation over to professionally licensed or degree holding archivists and preservationists. The deeper we got the  less control over the items we had. It is regulated into being a poor environment. We dropped the cause.

 

I remember a story about Yann Saunders of the Cadillac Club visiting the Cadillac Museum. The story goes that a group of archival interns had a large collection of photographs spread out on a table and were trying to reference them to Cadillac history without much success.

Being a were hobbyist like most of us, Yann picked up pictures and immediately recognized the connection to Cadillac. But the inters had been trained for their careers.

 

Lots of stories there; the difference between a job and a passion, regulations and requirements of employment, things one doesn't see on the surface. And a whole different set of priorities.

 

Exceptions are always out there. I remember being at the ACD Museum one weekday morning and having a great conversation with a volunteer who was wiping down the L29 limo on the floor. I love that place.

Bernie

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Even "LOANING" to a museum can be a crap shoot, too many volunteers and all it takes is one with a personal agenda. This had been the advice I had been given  that said not to. Even then, I would have loaned a part of my collection if the museum was willing to pay any damages or loss from theft, which they continued to claim was unnecessary or did not think the emblems had any value... I never cared for the administrator after that.

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If it has been in Chicago for a while I guess the likelihood of getting it back shot is pretty high.

 

And that really is a record record car.

 

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