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WP Chrysler Museum SOLD!!!!

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According to today's Detroit News:

Chrysler Group LLC to acquire Walter P. Chrysler Museum

Chrysler Group LLC is purchasing the holdings of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum to protect the company's patrimony, but says the classic car collection will no longer be open to the public — except for special occasions.

The museum, which has run out of money, will merge with the Chrysler Foundation at the end of the year. After that, the company will purchase the 67 vehicles and displays housed in the museum, which is located next to Chrysler's world headquarters in Auburn Hills.

Chrysler already owns the building.

"Chrysler will continue to share its automobile heritage housed at the Museum with the public during special exhibitions. The existing Museum facilities will also be used to meet Chrysler Group needs," said Brian Glowiak, president of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation.

"We are very thankful for the generosity of our many members, friends, volunteers and employees and very proud of the Museum's legacy as an educational and cultural institution."

Approximately 35,000 people visited the museum last year, though that figure includes special events and facility rentals.

"Over time, the revenue just has not been there to sustain its operations," said Chrysler spokesman Kevin Frazier, who added that the automaker is keen to preserve this important part of its history.

Opened in October 1999, the Chrysler museum was the first in this country to be located at an automaker's headquarters.

The Chrysler Foundation said it would use the proceeds of Chrysler's purchase to fund a variety of charitable community activities and organizations.

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According to today's Detroit News:

Chrysler Group LLC to acquire Walter P. Chrysler Museum

Chrysler Group LLC is purchasing the holdings of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum to protect the company's patrimony, but says the classic car collection will no longer be open to the public — except for special occasions.

The museum, which has run out of money, will merge with the Chrysler Foundation at the end of the year. After that, the company will purchase the 67 vehicles and displays housed in the museum, which is located next to Chrysler's world headquarters in Auburn Hills.

Chrysler already owns the building.

"Chrysler will continue to share its automobile heritage housed at the Museum with the public during special exhibitions. The existing Museum facilities will also be used to meet Chrysler Group needs," said Brian Glowiak, president of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation.

"We are very thankful for the generosity of our many members, friends, volunteers and employees and very proud of the Museum's legacy as an educational and cultural institution."

Approximately 35,000 people visited the museum last year, though that figure includes special events and facility rentals.

"Over time, the revenue just has not been there to sustain its operations," said Chrysler spokesman Kevin Frazier, who added that the automaker is keen to preserve this important part of its history.

Opened in October 1999, the Chrysler museum was the first in this country to be located at an automaker's headquarters.

The Chrysler Foundation said it would use the proceeds of Chrysler's purchase to fund a variety of charitable community activities and organizations.

What an absolute shame, cant help being underwhelmed by the lack of forum response to the loss of this facility

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I was there in 2008 right after the BCA meet and the GM 100 parade. Nice collection. If Chrysler LLC is buying it from another part of Chrysler, and keeping it intact, What's the big deal??? Other than it will not be open all the time, it will still be open from time to time. If the cars and building were being liquidated then I could see that it would be a great loss. Dandy Dave!

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Maybe I misread the article, but it appears to me that it's a good thing. Chrysler has bought their historical vehicles. Did I read too fast?

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The WPC is a GREAT museum and yes, it sounds like the vehicles will be retained. The restricted access part is a bummer akin to the GM Heritage Center; it'll likely be accessible but on a very limited basis.

I'm not particularly a Mopar fan but this place just blows me away. Inside the beautiful building they had a great variety of some unusual vehicles, well presented with good information that was easy to understand. Only been there about a dozen times but going to try to swing by next week when we're in that area - if they are still open to the public.

They would have cruise nights during the summer and special events, shows, etc. Part of what made them extra special. Plus who wouldn't like cars on a stick?

Visit the Museum - Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation

Visit the Museum

The 55,000-square-foot museum features three floors of more than 65 antique, custom and concept vehicles interspersed with interactive displays and historical exhibits that tell the story of the automaker's contributions to automotive design, technology and innovation, as well as the automobile's impact on American culture.

The Museum opens to a two-story atrium in which a rotating tower majestically showcases the automaker's iconic concept vehicles. From the atrium flows two floors of distinctive exhibition galleries and access to the garage-like atmosphere of the lower level.

The first floor traces the industry's first 50 years from Chrysler's perspective - both the man and the company. Rare vehicles date back to the early 1900s and a timeline wall details the key executives and predecessor companies that played a key role in the company's evolution. The vintage collection includes such historic marques as DeSoto, Hudson, Nash, Plymouth, Rambler and Willys-Overland.

The second floor continues Chrysler's story, beginning with the introduction of the first HEMI® in 1951 and spotlighting the automaker's design, engineering and marketing successes. Exhibitions illustrate decades of vehicle styling brilliance, the electronic age of transistors, Mopar® Muscle, turbine technology, the family transportation revolution and leadership in safety and fuel economy.

The lower level, called "Boss Chrysler's Garage," houses dream machines from the '60s - '70s, including classic and muscle cars from the heyday of cruising to one-of-a-kind record-setting race vehicles. The Garage also features a series of Jeep® vehicles and trucks as well as an eclectic sampling of vehicles from the Chrysler collection.

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I never knew the collection existed. Car museums that are not owned by an individual with a passion for every car in the collection are doomed to fail IMO. Just look at the collections that were big time in 1960, try and track down the cars that were once in them today. Bob

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I was there in 2008 right after the BCA meet and the GM 100 parade. Nice collection. If Chrysler LLC is buying it from another part of Chrysler, and keeping it intact, What's the big deal??? Other than it will not be open all the time, it will still be open from time to time. If the cars and building were being liquidated then I could see that it would be a great loss. Dandy Dave!

The big deal as I see it, is the presumed loss of access to archival material and build records which were a great assett for us restorers. The museum staff provided a wonderful service in retrieving production build records back to the earliest days of manufacturing. In addition a dedicated number of their staff actively pursued the location and purchase of significant vehicles to add to the collection, to lose that effort is a tragedy.

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During the BCA Centennial Meet in 2003, some of us "snuck off" to Auburn Hills to go to the Chrysler Museum. It was an awesome place! So much history of the corporation! As the Museum was being put together, Chrysler went out and sought a lot of what's in there, especially the military items (some of which came from "the ends of the earth".

On the main floor, to the right of the entry, one of the main exhibits was a recreation of Chrysler's office. Then downstairs, in the basement, was "Boss Chrysler's Garage", where the vehicle collection was on display. A year of so after it openned, some enterprising employees got together one night, after closing, and fired every one of the cars up and ran them, recording each car's engine sounds . . . for a CD which the gift shop sold. After a while, the closed room became a little "fumey". The cleaning crew kind of wondered what they were doing, but didn't stop them. Such a deal!

The museum was originally a unit of Chrysler, but to save it, the Museum became a private entity. Now that Chrysler LLC is repurchasing the contents, the full circle has been made. I, too, would like to see it open daily (staffed as it was by Museum Volunteers, usually), but the current realities seem to prevent that . . . at this time.

The story of how Chrysler Historical has survived all of the ownership/management changes is a great one! Much dedication and effort went into saving those many files! As the inquiries on particular vehicles has been basically "mail order", I hope that can continue!

Happy Holidays!

NTX5467

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I worked there from 2005 until late 2008. There are some assumptions being made here that I'd like to correct, or make clear what is happening. The museum will not sit closed, in its current state, the building will give way to other uses in Chrysler's corporate needs. I have heard talk of a drastically smaller display of cars, but you can expect to see cubicle farms where cars once were. I imagine the basement will remain and the upper floors with natural light will give way to office space. The historical archives are not not going anywhere, and are not housed at that building, at this time you still will be able to get build records and other data that they have been providing for the last 15 years or so. The staff that researches and provides those records never really worked for the museum, they labeled that function under the museum name, but it never operated out of the building to any great degree. There will still be some acquisition of vehicles, although with the museum facility closed I would expect less purchasing. The 300+ cars in the collection are the property of the engineering group, and they are purchased as benchmarks of previous firsts or "bests". Carfreak--thank you for your kind words on how the information was presented, I was a part of that, and wrote some of the vehicle labels as well as planning and executing new display elements.

The killer thing here was the building, when it opened they were rolling in cash, right before the "merger of equals" with MB (who supported the museum wonderfully) but the building was built for glitz and to be impressive, not to be economical to run. The funds for the museum came from the PR (Communications) department, and it was thought to be a great PR tool. When the company slid into the difficult times of 2008 budgets were cut drastically and the museum was spun off, taken out of PR's budget and transferred to the Foundation's, and they, under Frank Fountian set out to make the museum a 501 ©(3) non-profit. They did, we built a donor wall, started a grass-roots effort to make the museum self-sufficient. THat's where my stay there ended, another budget crunch, another round of lay-offs. They never really had a sugar daddy, the way symphony orchestras, Opera companies, Art museums and the like cultivate. Car people are hard to get money out of for museums, unless they are in the "1%" strata and have a lot of income to write off. Below that bracket they have the proverbial angel and devil on their shoulders, the angel saying "You could donate $XXXXX to that museum you really like" and the devil saying "DON'T DO THAT--$XXXXX will buy you another car"

Edited by mrpushbutton (see edit history)

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Mr. Pushbutton. Very well stated. Thank you for the explanation. Lots of weird and unnecessary rumors floating around about the museum and what is happening. It is great to have someone at the source set the record straight. I have visited the museum frequently and attended a few of the Fall Driving Tours that they used to have. It is a great collection and it sounds like the most practical and logical solutions are being implemented. Thanks again.

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The cars Chrysler "bought" were vehicles the corporation donated to the museum 501©(3) in late 2008 when the museum non-profit was founded. What is happening now is the cars are being "sold" to the company, to go back into the engineering department's collection. The money goes to the Chrysler Foundation, which is the philanthropical part of the company and will be used to support other causes, most of which are humanitarian in nature. The company took money from one pocket and put it in another.</SPAN>

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Both my wife and I visited the Walter P Chrysler Museum in 2009 and we were both left with loving memories of what we refered to as hallowed ground. One question that I do have is whether the 2014 DB centenial celebrations were going to be held there as we intend comming back from Aust to those celebrations and were hoping to visit the museum again Ron and Kerry

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Thanks for filling us in John, interesting to hear from someone involved. I am a big fan of the museum and just hate to see it removed from public display. And I second those who say it was really well designed in telling the stories of automotive history to the layperson, kudos to all involved. Todd C

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I don't see the downside to this. It's staying with the company and intact as a collection, which I feel is far better than having some showy auction where all the cars are sold off like cattle, never to be assembled in the same place again, and most never to be seen again. Instead the collection is still there, just with reduced public visibility. That's OK with me, as I think they'll realize that as a PR tool and piece of company history, it's invaluable and will make it available to the public on special occasions. It's expensive to run a museum, but kudos to the corporate suits for not grabbing the instant profit of liquidation and instead keeping it in one place.

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I don't see the downside to this. It's staying with the company and intact as a collection, which I feel is far better than having some showy auction where all the cars are sold off like cattle, never to be assembled in the same place again, and most never to be seen again. Instead the collection is still there, just with reduced public visibility. That's OK with me, as I think they'll realize that as a PR tool and piece of company history, it's invaluable and will make it available to the public on special occasions. It's expensive to run a museum, but kudos to the corporate suits for not grabbing the instant profit of liquidation and instead keeping it in one place.

As much as I am relieved to know the fate of the vehicles is covered, you need to understand that the museum wasnt just about the vehicles; there is a huge repository of historical archives which were accessible by the public on a daily basis through services provided by the museum staff. For a small fee vehicle production records back to the 1930s could be perused and actual vehicle build cards could be reproduced. I dont see any reference to the fate of this side of the museum being addressed, and for those of us over the pond its a worry.

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I hope they still have Walter Chrysler's toolbox with the tools he made for himself when he was an apprentice in the locomotive shops.

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hchris--read my post, #10 above, I cover that. You needn't worry about that, that was never handled by the museum staff.

OK good news; in the past we have accessed that data via the museum, any idea how that will be handled in the future ?

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Same way you always have, you will notice that the address that you receive mail from or send mail to is in Detroit, not Auburn Hills, which is where the location of the museum is-soon to be was. It was just a header on the communication intended to boost the position of the museum in the car community. The actual department that processes the historical record look-up and fufillment is Chrysler Historical, which is the corporate historical archives. The people at the Historical Department are top-notch individuals, and they have the assistance of many retirees who lived a lot of that history.

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Same way you always have, you will notice that the address that you receive mail from or send mail to is in Detroit, not Auburn Hills, which is where the location of the museum is-soon to be was. It was just a header on the communication intended to boost the position of the museum in the car community. The actual department that processes the historical record look-up and fufillment is Chrysler Historical, which is the corporate historical archives. The people at the Historical Department are top-notch individuals, and they have the assistance of many retirees who lived a lot of that history.

OK well thanks for that, not everyone would be familiar with past activities

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