Walk right up to automotive history at the Gilmore Car Museum as you browse through our collections and exhibit after exhibit of incredible vehicles, in a most memorable setting. If you take them all in, you’ll see nearly 400 vehicles, and the range of brands and models is breathtaking—everything from Model As to Cadillacs, Pierce-Arrows to Duesenbergs, Studebaker to Chevrolet, and more. We also have exhibits that capture the best of each automotive era—cars from the Nickel and Brass Eras to the Classics and Post-War, plus favorites from the ’50s and ’60s.
From Super Bees to Chevelles and everything in between, step into an era where the engines were big and their performance was bigger!
Location: Automotive Heritage Center Main Gallery, 2017-18 Featured Exhibit
Travel down the road through the history of the pickup truck, including some of the most iconic and unusual trucks produced from the turn of the 20th century through the 1960s.
Location: Larry & Earlene Baum Gallery, Open through April 1, 2018
Nearby Kalamazoo was once home to 17 independent automobile manufacturers between 1903 and 1982 including many now-forgotten brands, but its real claim to fame was as the home of the iconic Checker Cab Company. Among the must-sees are the very last of the Checker cabs to roll off the assembly line and Taxi 804 from the iconic TV series, TAXI.
Location: Carriage House, Exhibit Open April – November
Decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery, African Americans continued to suffer unequal treatment, especially in the South. Jim Crow Laws discriminated against blacks in nearly every aspect of public life, including travel. Although the roads and highways were free for all to use, doing so was not easy for blacks.
The Green Book, written by Victor Green, provided guidance for African American travelers to find safe locations to sleep, eat, shop and purchase gas. Locally, the guide was used by the Idelwild Chamber of Commerce in Michigan to assist black American travelers in the 1950s and 1960s.
This exhibit is sponsored by PNC Bank.
While we are the Gilmore Car Museum, the collection boasts more than cars! The Museum’s Motorcycle Gallery features rare examples of bikes from the past, including a 1947 Indian Chief, a rare 1910 Cleveland, and the 1952 Triumph Trophy TR5 ridden by the famous Fonz on the 1970s sitcom, Happy Days.
Exhibit Open April-November
From Disney Magic to a beautiful collection of pedal cars, there’s something in this exhibit for every kid and all the kids at heart! Over 100 pedal cars adorn this exhibit including cars, tractors, airplanes, anniversary models, police cars, fire trucks, and so many more. And, enjoy a “picture perfect” opportunity to climb into our 1919 Whippet Assistant Chief’s Fire Truck for a quick snapshot with your family and friends!
Only at the Gilmore Car Museum can you see the only movie set to ever leave Walt Disney Studios – the one-of-a-kind studio set and car from the 1967 Walt Disney film, The Gnome-Mobile. Walt Disney visited the Gilmore Family and Donald’s car collection on September 18, 1964, just two years before Donald would open his collection to the public. He signed into Donald’s guest book and listed his address as “Disneyland U.S.A.” and later donated this over-sized movie set and accompanying 1930 Rolls Royce to the Gilmore Collection.
Exhibit Open April-November
The images of long lines at soup kitchens, farms buried by dirt, and gaunt faces peering from dilapidated vehicles illustrate only part of the story. This special display takes visitors beyond the dust bowl, with a revealing display of automobiles of the era including an extraordinary Duesenberg, custom-built for Hollywood’s elite, and other makes of the 1930s.
From iconic trademarks to custom-designs for drivers from a bygone era, you’ll find one of North America’s largest collections of hood ornaments and automotive mascots at the Gilmore Car Museum. Included in this vast collection are rare, exciting, and original hood ornaments donated to the Classic Car Club of America Museum by Marvin Tamaroff, displayed in the Barrett Barn for visitors to enjoy.
Exhibit open April-November
This collection of Rhodes artifacts features items invented by Kalamazoo local, Jay B. Rhodes. Also known as “Kalamazoo’s Edison,” Rhodes filed over 230 patents in his lifetime (1865-1931) for items such as road graters, fishing lures, dump cars used in the building of the Panama Canal, innovative oil bottles, and what is recognized as the world’s first GPS, the Rhodes Pathfinder.
Exhibit open through November 2017
This exhibit of over 150 post-WWII tin toys features some of the rarest and most sought-after toys produced in occupied Germany and Japan. From the stunning lithography to motorized examples from Mar, Bandai, and Kosuge, to the intriguing clockwork mechanisms by Schuco and Techno Fix, it is sure to stir many childhood memories. Loaned from the collection of Jack & Joanne Nottingham
Dazzling artwork is on display throughout the Museum, including stunning paintings of famous automotive advertisements by the late Art Fitzpatrick, beautiful watercolor renditions by Roland L. Stickney, and a 1983 Limited Edition Stanley Wanlass bronze sculpture, “Passing of the Horse,” greets visitors as they enter the Automotive Heritage Center.
An authentic re-creation complete with a vast display of memorabilia from the days when gas was only 18 cents a gallon! Inside, you will find a vast display of Shell and gas station memorabilia. Also featured in the Shell Station are 12 photographs titled 20th Century Artifacts: Running On Empty from Stevensville, Michigan photographer Susan Johnston. Exhibit open seasonally, April-November
Inside the Automotive Heritage Center Research Library you’ll find a collection of over half a million items from motoring magazines to shop manuals, owner’s manuals, parts books, service bulletins, sales brochures, general reference works and club publications. There’s even an exceptional archive of automotive advertising materials, all available for public viewing. Open Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm or by appointment Learn More
The Fabulous Hudsons (Closed August 2017)
Celebrating 50 Years: The Donald Gilmore Collection (Closed June 2017)
*The Golden Age of Sports Cars (Closed April 2017)
Mid-Century Performance (Closed September 2016)
American Legends: Hot Rods & Customs (Closed November 2015)
History of Stock Car & NASCAR Racing (Closed September 2012)
Alice Ramsey: Across the USA (Closed 2012)
Drag Racing (Closed 2011)
A Question of Power: Gas, Steam, Electric (Closed 2005)
*Denotes National Association of Auto Museums Interpretive Exhibits Award-Winner*
Gilmore Car Museum is a public, 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution, dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the American automobile.© 2017 Gilmore Car Museum • All Rights Reserved • Produced by Gaslight Media