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AACA Museum & AACA, What is Going On


midman
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Can someone in the know clue us into what is going on with the disagreement between the club & museum?

There was a merger in the works which apparently now is on the skids and both entities are going their separate ways.

I don't see how this could be good for either one.

 

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Unfortunately, the press put this story out without talking to the appropriate person.  However, the story is basically true. A letter has been sent to all members and an article will be in the next issue of Antique Automobile.  In the end the museum board had to make a decision they felt was in their best interest and the club had to do as well.  AACA will be moving forward with a new library, national headquarters and hopefully more ideas to help our membership.   

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Please, please do not do anything like building another museum.  I am a member of the National Assoc. of Watch & Clock Collectors in addition to numerous car clubs.  These museums are giant cash sucking machines with huge infrastructures.  The NAWCC museum in Columbia, PA is bankrupting the NAWCC.  Yet they keep on funding a museum that does nothing to promote the hobby.  Also demographics are against all of us.  Go back to the negotiating table and patch up your differences!

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21 minutes ago, adamross said:

Please, please do not do anything like building another museum.  These museums are giant cash sucking machines with huge infrastructures.  Also demographics are against all of us.  Go back to the negotiating table and patch up your differences!

 

Hear, hear, I also encourage decision makers on both sides to get together and figure it out.  If both entities are to be sustained for the next 10-20+ years I think they need the savings of working together.  I cannot imagine accepting the waste and inefficiency of operating separately just because some one or group is fighting a little turf war.  IMO we cannot afford that kind of egos and fiefdoms if that is the problem, Todd C 

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Reads to me like the AACA home office wanted to gobble up a tremendously valuable piece of Hershey real estate for pennies on the dollar.

 

I see no problem here.  The fact they are separate entities has never been a secret.  Another way to look at it is it secures the interests of both organizations.  In saying that AACA members are getting screwed, that takes nothing into account for those who have donated generously to the Museum knowing it is a separate entity.  The Museum took the high road in continuing to honor AACA club member's memberships.  Read the last sentence and tell me what club members have lost.

 

 

 

 

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The pennies on the dollar grab of real estate doesn't seem to make sense. These are both non profits working for a common cause and the museum was born of the AACA. 

Hopefully we will get honest forthright answers to what happened but as stated before it is hard to see how either the museum or the club ( another words the members) will come out ahead here, what a shame.

Edited by midman (see edit history)
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According to the article, the club started the museum, but since the club didn't have the proper tax status to accept donations, they created a separate entity which had the correct status and could therefore operate the museum. The plan was always to merge the two and now that the club has proper tax status to operate such a museum, a merger seemed appropriate. But for some reason museum management decided they didn't want to do that. What do they know that we don't?

 

In addition, the former museum director left rather unexpectedly a few weeks ago. I'm reminded of the nonsense that went on here in Cleveland with the Crawford Museum when new management took over and decided that rather than having cars on display, they would prefer to sell the cars and put some cash in the bank instead, you know, to pay for raises for the museum managers for doing such a good job at raising cash--they practically looted the place. Was the old museum director an insider or an outsider to what's going on now?

 

This stinks in more ways than one. First the Nationwide insurance sell-out and now this? From the outside, this looks pretty bad and shakes my faith in the AACA. Is there an outside auditor watching where the money is going?

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11 minutes ago, midman said:

The pennies on the dollar grab of real estate doesn't seem to make sense.

 

 

5 hours ago, Steve Moskowitz said:

AACA will be moving forward with a new library, national headquarters and hopefully more ideas to help our membership.   

 

I would say quite the contrary. The museum as an outstanding existing facility not to mention real estate for expansion. Moskowitz's

comment in itself implies National headquarters is looking to add brick and mortar, something the museum already has.

 

Two questions that I think would reveal some insight to this whole thing:

1. Which party made the approach about the merger?

2. Who made the motion in the AACA meeting to withdraw making a contribution to the museum?

 

Interesting that Thomas Cox is both the Exec. VP of AACA and a board member of the AACA Museum.

 

The AACA Museum has a new Exec. Director, maybe it's time for AACA to get a new Exec. Director and with both entities having new/fresh ideas this could be amicably resolved.

What do you say Thomas Cox?

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

This stinks in more ways than one. First the Nationwide insurance sell-out and now this? From the outside, this looks pretty bad and shakes my faith in the AACA. Is there an outside auditor watching where the money is going?

 

Hmmm...Could this be counted as the 2nd strike?

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Well, bless their hearts....I'm surely uneducated in the structure of the AACA, as the fact that the club and museum aren't joined at the hip sure is a shock.

 

I sure bet the Cammack brothers thought they were giving their Tucker collection to the club, as did many contributors...now, as mentioned, it's up for grabs if the museum directors decide to go another direction.

 

And, it could no longer be called the "AACA Museum", could it?

 

I know someone who is very liberal and hates people who have a lot of money, CEO's and any rich person period.  Recently, he did a deal on selling a car to someone, and was bragging about how he screwed the little old lady, from price of the new car to poor financing for her, but high interest rate so great for his cut.  He commented "It's all about the money!", not realizing the irony of his statement. 

 

That's what this is, it's not about what's best for the hobby, it's about the money........so sad....

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I have attached the letter that was sent out today.  Sorry I have not been able to get to this sooner.  There are a lot of things being said here that I know are being said out of strong emotions.  If you think for one second the AACA National Board made this decision lightly you are completely wrong.  All of this issue has transpired over a 4 1/2 year period where the club tried to build a new facility on the museum property and failed to get approval.  Then the museum came to us and asked about a merger. We believed it was the best thing for our members to reunite the museum with AACA in some form or fashion.  The Library at one time was a separate entity and we merged them with AACA some years back with great success.  The library has never been stronger.  In the end this was a business deal that could not be settled between the parties.

 

Going in, AACA knew we could not justify giving out our members money to a separate organization when in fact we had need to expand our library and modernize our headquarters.  That was the financial side.  We had no desire to run the museum nor take any assets from them and in fact we offered to INCREASE our donation to the museum if we could find a way to give our members SOME equity in the museum.  Fortunately, every AACA board meeting is taped and I can say with 100% confidence that at no time did any board member talk about the need to go after museum assets or that we wished to run the museum.

 

There have been years of discussions and people on both sides tried to find a way to make this work.  It simply did not.  It would take a book to explain all that has gone on.  I am sure that no one is happy, least of all our board members or the museum's board members.  In the end AACA had to make a decision solely in the best interest of our members and did so after a lot of sole searching.  Most of our board members have personally contributed to the museum or raised significant funds for the benefit of the museum.  I have as well.

 

David, the vast majority of our members have felt that we were one organization based upon the actions of AACA and the Museum as well.  It was not meant maliciously as people felt someday we would truly be one as those discussion have been ongoing in some for or fashion for years.  The Cammack family is represented on the museum board and they and their attorneys were well aware of the legal situation.

 

As to the person calling for my head.  All I can say is for 13 years I have given everything I can to this club and those that know me and have seen how many changes for the good have happened thanks to the team I helped assemble are very appreciated of the job we have done here.  Most of you know me from the forums and I have tried my best to respond and be straight with you.  Not everyone is going to agree with me or the club in their actions but if you think the club needs a new person in this office exercise your rights as members and contact our board members.

 

 

Letter to Members.pdf

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8 minutes ago, Steve Moskowitz said:

In the end this was a business deal that could not be settled between the parties.

Steve, I would never "call for your head", and the person saying that probably has no idea of the stress and demands of your job.

 

But, this should all be about the hobby.  I can understand that "business deals" don't always work out.  Those of us who work on early cars, and restore them either for fun or for a living, know that the "business" of antique cars is a quicksand swamp, and it doesn't take much to put you under that swampy water. 

 

But, there are the money guys, and the hobby guys, and this news is probably upsetting to both.  I'm an AACA member, pay my dues, and honestly believed that the Museum and the Club were, if not the same, inseparable........I feel so sad for those great cars, trucks, and buses, and the families attached to them, to know that their gift to the museum is in peril.  Gene Becker, drove his Model 66 Pierce to EVERY Pierce Arrow meet for 30 years, his widow donates that irreplaceable car, and another Pierce, to the Museum, thinking that it's a gift to the hobbyists...but now, it's very possibly up for grabs since the "business deal" can't be made?  That was NOT the intent of the gift.  I know, I know, museums can deaccession certain gifts, but to put Tuckers and other cars at risk...because, of course, it's best to deaccession high value things, and keep the, ummm, less expensive things..the public doesn't know any better, right?

 

I realize that I don't know all the ins and outs of keeping AACA and the museum functional, but to hear this on the forum, today, right now, when, as you say, the negotiations have been going on for YEARS?  I just can't understand that...

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Hey Steve, thanks for posting the letter here and for all your work with the club over the years.  I appreciate that you are so often here on the site interacting with us and even though you and I have not met personally your TV and magazine appearances and comments here have always made me think you are a stand-up guy.  This whole thing must be a legal tangle that I can't grasp from the outside and it certainly makes for an awkward looking situation.  Good luck to you, Todd C    

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4 minutes ago, trimacar said:

 but to hear this on the forum, today, right now, when, as you say, the negotiations have been going on for YEARS?  I just can't understand that...

 

David, the discussion is the result of a story that was published online at Hemmings today. 

 

What I cannot understand is this upset that, " the press put this story out without talking to the appropriate person." when the only two people mentioned in the article were the executive director of the club and the executive director of the museum and both read as though they are speaking to the author with respect to issue at hand.  

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As a member I guess I'm entitled to an opinion. As some of you may be aware I'm not bashful about sharing it. As was stated it comes down to money. Of course it does. It would be nice if the museum was self sufficient but it doesn't look like that's the case. So the AACA membership has to ask itself if it wishes to pour money into an enterprise that will be used by an extremely small part of the membership or does it wish to use those funds for things that more directly benefit it's members.  The argument that the museum seriously fosters participation in the hobby is specious at best. Lets face it. It's an expensive building full of dead cars that an ever dwindling number of people are interested in.

All the other works of the AACA do far more to expand the hobby than ANY museum ever will.

Steve M, the AACA board, and myself have some policy arguments but I have always beleived they are acting on what they consider to be the correct course and in the club's best interest.

If the museum cannot or will not directly contribute to the clubs coffers than let them manage on their own..................Bob Beck

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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9 minutes ago, trimacar said:

 

I realize that I don't know all the ins and outs of keeping AACA and the museum functional, but to hear this on the forum, today, right now, when, as you say, the negotiations have been going on for YEARS?  I just can't understand that...

 

Trimacar,

 

I'm also one that fails to understand how this apparently years-long dispute has only now become common knowledge to the AACA membership.  Of course, it may have "muddied the waters" had the dispute/negotiations become known to the membership, but I would think that something of this nature should have been communicated to the people who make the organization possible.  It's a shame that things have been allowed to deteriorate to this point.

 

"Consequently, AACA will focus our energy and resources toward securing a new facility to appropriately house our Library and administrative

offices."  This quote from the AACA letter to members was a real eye-opener to me.  As someone who has only been an AACA member for a few years, I just assumed that the AACA offices, library and museum were all part of the AACA.  It seems that the AACA offices and library are now without a home which will necessitate the expenditure of considerable funds to find a new home.  Will this quest be funded via dues increases, assessments etc.?

 

Bummed out, I am:(,

Grog

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26 minutes ago, trimacar said:

 I can understand that "business deals" don't always work out.  Those of us who work on early cars, and restore them either for fun or for a living, know that the "business" of antique cars is a quicksand swamp, and it doesn't take much to put you under that swampy water. 

 

 

Interesting thing to say. What is that swampy water that you speak of?? Do I see a honest conversation bubbling up in the swamp?  Now please do not take my comments and put them with this AACA thing. I do not know enough about it to make a comment. But there is a bunch of stuff that needs to be talked about in this hobby/industry. You can start by telling us about the "swampy water" and the "business" of antique cars.:ph34r:

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I'll toss my opinion in here...  I APPRAISE cars that are donated to museums including the AACA. Actually I hear the reasons given by those who intend to donate and nearly 100% assume their cars and ephemera will become part of the "collection" for ever more...  Totally false in EVERY CASE. What a shame, but not for me to give my opinion when performing my function as an appraiser. Now that this topic has hit home in this forum, I can let it all go. I TOO thought that a contribution to the AACA Museum was to support ALL OF AACA. No, I never really thought I needed to look closer at the relationship, heck, the publications I got from AACA asking to support "OUR MUSEUM" was enough for me.

So what next? I will NEVER DONATE any of MY cars to ANY Museum where they become dead as a rock or hidden away or heaven forbid, SOLD out to general public to become Rat Rods or parts cars. My cars will go to a real car-person ONLY. Our cars need caretakers that maintain then in RUNNING CONDITION and get them out to public events when at all possible. They are to be seen, touched, driven and admired. EVERY CAR I have and or am involved with I try to do a video of and post in online for others to see. If I cant get out there to a show, I can point folks to the video. I get PLENTY of thank you messages from viewers from all parts of the world. They all love these cars and I am happy to share all of them in any way I can.

NO Museums for me.   

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1 hour ago, Steve Moskowitz said:

 

"As to the person calling for my head.  All I can say is for 13 years I have given everything I can to this club and those that know me and have seen how many changes for the good have happened thanks to the team I helped assemble are very appreciated of the job we have done here.  Most of you know me from the forums and I have tried my best to respond and be straight with you.  Not everyone is going to agree with me or the club in their actions but if you think the club needs a new person in this office exercise your rights as members and contact our board members."

 

 

Letter to Members.pdf

 

It disturbs me to see someone take offense of the excellent work that Steve has done for AACA. Steve has unwavering support among the AACA Board. Steve has worked hard with the Committee that tried to work out details of joining the AACA Museum with AACA itself. (By the way, AACA allowed the Museum to use AACA as their name to help promote the Museum and our hobby in general) Myself and most of the Board asks Steve to handle the business part of our hobby, since he has dealing with businesses like this all of his life.

 

As far as this merger goes, AACA has been working on this for some time now. We need a new building, one for AACA Headquarters, and more importantly, a new LARGER facility for the AACA Library. The library just recently got a trailer load of car related items donated. It is busting at the seams. We CAN NOT wait any longer. It's business folks. We need to move now!

 

Wayne

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People it has been a long day for a lot of reasons.  I had asked for the story in Hemming's to be discussed with a representative of the board and not me.  I said some candid things and failed to ask that my comments be off the record.  Another magazine honored that request and is working with the chairman of our committee for responses.  He will get those.

 

Capngrog-we have a home now.  I wrote in my editorial a couple issues ago about the problem we face in a 1931 building that was not built to service our needs.  It is a valuable piece of property and will be a rather easy sell.  We have a major need to expand the library and we need more efficient office space and need a method of either a loading dock or freight elevator.  All the discussions we have had with contractors and our issues with zoning have finally led us to go in the direction of a newer bldg. rather than to try to remodel this place that has served us well. We are not located on the museum campus.

 

We all freely admit that no one ever told the story about AACA and the Museum's legal status.  People, including me, just felt that someday we would work things out.  Remember guys, the club started the museum and has funded them to a very large extent more than was evident in the article today.  Real tears have been shed, I have had to talk with our early Presidents of the club who gave their hearts and souls to the formation of the museum.  They are heartbroken.  There is no joy in "mudville".

 

While the decision is hurtful and has caused pains on both sides of this issue we are still hopeful that the museum is successful and that their leadership can find ways to make a great museum even greater over the ensuing years.  We, however, need to focus our members money for an entity that they have "ownership" in and that is their national headquarters and the best automotive library in the world (IM0).  

 

I have lived these discussion for many years now and do not expect everyone to completely understand.  There are many issues that are difficult to grasp but in the end each side had a chance to find a solution that they could live with but in the end it just failed.   

 

Wayne thanks for the support (you others as well) but having my head on the chopping block comes with the territory.  Happy to see you respond.  I know others who are not on here much are trying but dealing with the technology problems. 

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6 hours ago, lump said:

Wow. I have donated stuff to the museum, because it was a part of AACA. Wonder what happens to that stuff now? Can you imagine how people who donated entire cars must feel? Hope everything works out ok. 

 

 

I don't want to dissuade anyone from ever donating to a museum but realize that anything donated has a decent chance of getting auctioned off at some point,  often before the donator passes.  See the Crawford for some examples.

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1 hour ago, Ovalrace25 said:

...Our cars need caretakers that maintain then in RUNNING CONDITION and get them out to public events when at all possible.... 

NO Museums for me.   

 

Some good, moderating ideas here:

---I understand that our museum--different from most--keeps

the cars maintained and in running condition.  Some of our

local volunteers are dedicated to that task.  A few cars are

even taken out to Hershey and other area shows.

 

---Just because two entities differ in their ideas doesn't mean

that the situation has to become acrimonious.  "Agreeing to disagree"

can still be maintained with friendly cooperation, even if there are

two separate business entities.

 

---A new library and new national office would be great, if they are

improvements to what we have currently.  But only if the funding is there.

Buildings can easily last 200 years (500 if you ask the Europeans),

and even our oldest building has many, many useful years left. 

If buildings were obsolete after 80 years or so, ours would have

no value in a sale, and half of Pennsylvania would have to be town down! 

 

---Our Executive Director, in the office every day to serve the

membership, is a real car enthusiast and I think works hard for all of us.

Thanks, Steve, for being willing to discuss this on our forum.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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21 minutes ago, AJFord54 said:

So, let me ask this question:  

 

1.) I have a friend who recently donated an AACA Senior Grand National motorcycle.  I can't speak for him, but my guess would be that his donation was based upon the fact that it would be an asset of the AACA.  Can those that donated items, under the premises that the they would be such an asset, receive those items back?  I would suggest that there is going to be one hell of a lawsuit brewing.

 

I have never donated a vehicle (I do own a brick :-) )to them AJFord, but I do know that some items are "on loan". I am pretty sure that the paperwork that the donator signed described the conditions. Best to call the Museum.

Quote

 

2.) Next, the comment that all of the board members of the AACA and all of the board members of the AACA Museum are disappointed makes no sense to me.  If everyone is against it, why is it happening?

Again, it's a business decision. AACA needed a new building and we could not get the details worked out without causing serious issues.

Quote

 

Finally, on a rather "silly" note:  Will the membership still receive "free" entrance to the museum in the future?

Probably not, unless the Museum wants to finance it themselves. The Museum entrance fee now is partially financially covered by AACA membership dues. (a very nice arrangement)

Quote

 

I must say, I find it appalling that the 6000 or so "members" have never heard a word about this until after the fact.  How in the world could this ever have happened?  And PLEASE, do not confuse the situation by stating the we need a new building to house the library and executive offices.  That has nothing to do with the loss of the museum.   

It's 60,000 members and true it was not common knowledge. We always expected to unite at some time in the future. Don't forget, it was AACA members who put up the cash, donations, and support to break ground for the Museum in the first place. It's not like they did it by themselves.

Quote

 

 

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It would be interesting to read a history of the Museum, it's founding and ownership. I thought it was built on land owned by the AACA Hershey Region, and assumed it was a part of the AACA. It's hard to comment or have an educated option on on something I don't understand.

 

Phil

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I need to get home folks but in the Hemmings article the Museum has stated that AACA members will still get in for free. That was their decision and a nice one on their part

 

 Phil, the club voted to build a museum, played a major part in funding its construction, AACA staff played a huge role in making it happen, etc.  However, as stated the club was not a 501 (c) (3) so it could not take donations at the time so the museum was incorporated as a separate entity.  At that time the museum became separate from the club..legally.

 

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4 hours ago, mdsbob said:

What do you say Thomas Cox?

Bob, First I have to say that the Museum is in fact a nice facility. However, the real estate is not as free of encumbrances as you may think, due to local zoning requirements.  Second, there have been ongoing discussions over many years by many Board Members on both sides regarding a merger. The club prefers a merger in which the membership has equity in the Museum and at the same time allows their Board to run it independently as subsidiary. That was not satisfactory to the Museum Board.

Third, if you want a witch hunt then you'd better assume that none of us who volunteer at our expense to serve are looking out for the members interests...because all of our votes have been 100% unanimous. While you may be a cynic, I have to assume you know how hard it is to have 21 people support the same positions multiple times over several years....damned near impossible. Your club board has one thing in mind...the membership and our hobby.

 

Lastly Bob, I am incredulous that you would have the temerity to call for the replacement of our Executive Director. Steve does a great job for the membership. He is in large part the reason your dues are way beyond cheap in this hobby...why??  because the guy works 12 hour days and weekends pouring over every last detail of the business side of this club as well as serving our membership. I don't know of ONE Executive Director who ever actually answers the phone at times....Steve does. Hes never too busy or too good to do anything,...even servicing the plumbing on occasion. You Sir are way out of line, particularly when you do not know that of which you speak. IF you want to talk, you can message me with your number, and I will call you at my earliest convenience and yours.

Best,

Tom

P.S. Try being polite rather than calling people with whom you have no real familiarity by their last name. Your Executive Directors name is Steve!!

 

 

 

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I have never been to the museum, nor do I intend to. I have always enjoyed seeing the cars on tours running around the countryside together rather than see a static display in a museum. I feel bad for the people that have donated to the museum and now may face the possibility of their donations sold to keep the museum solvent. There are many museums that support themselves by buying and selling. It sounds to me, even though I am under informed, that someone at the museum is getting a little too big for their britches. What would happen to their bottom line if 60,000 member of the AACA decided not to go there?

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5 minutes ago, 41 Su8 said:

...I feel bad for the people that have donated to the museum and now may face the possibility of their donations sold to keep the museum solvent.... 

 

There's no talk of that.

As someone mentioned in a prior posting,

the museum gets only 5% of its funding

from the national AACA.

This surely isn't good for the museum, but

it has nothing to do with liquidation or insolvency!

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