We went to the best museum over the weekend. It’s called Historic Auto Attractions, but it’s much more than cars. It even says so in its promotional material! We’d gone when it first opened about ten years ago and saw some really cool exhibits. Mostly cars (Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time” car, a big foot monster truck, an old Chandler race car, and a Secret Service limousine used the day President Kennedy was shot), but other neat things, too, like costumes from “Gone with the Wind” and some music memorabilia.
My husband had never been, (poor guy had to work the day we went before) so we decided to make another visit. I looked it up on line and couldn’t believe the scope of things that had been added. The number of items on display had at least quadrupuled. And each one was more fascinating than the last. I couldn’t wait to go explore, and the actual experience didn’t disappoint.
We saw the Delorian from “Back to the Future”, the hearse from “Ghost Busters”, three different Batmobiles, and the Family Truckster from “Vacation” (complete with Aunt Edna on top). There was a fleet of Presidential limousines (from Grant’s to Reagan’s), cars used by other world leaders (Hitler, Stalin), one of Elvis’ cars, and even a Richard Petty “43″ car. The “Gone with the Wind” display had expanded to include props from the movie. Galleries were devoted to stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, James Dean, and Johnny Cash (wax figures, clothing, personal items). About a dozen Presidents, plus half a dozen world leaders were represented in wax. Tableaus paying tribute to classic tv shows like “Happy Days”, “Mash”, “All in the Family”, and “Sanford and Son” were on display as well.
The latest addition (recently acquired by the museum) to the Kennedy exhibit was the top of the birthday cake from his 35th birthday, made famous by Marilyn Monroe’s sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday Mr. President”. We also saw the flag that had been draped over his casket while lying in state in the East Room of the White House. There were display cases of Jackie’s clothes, the briefcase he’d brought with him to Dallas, the printing plate used to print the newspaper headline telling of his assassination, and countless other artifacts. The exhibit had become an entire gallery. A smaller room held Lee Harvey Oswald artifacts, including his tombstone.
Talk about an eclectic mix of historically and culturally significant items. All on display in an off-the-beaten-path museum in northern Illinois. Who would have thought?
It made me wonder what kind of things will be left behind from the world today. What will future generations look at in museum displays? Will cell phones and computers seem prehistoric? Will airplanes be to them what horses and buggies are to us? What present day iconic books and movies will stand the test of time? “Twilight”, Harry Potter? Will there be a display of reality show tv? With so many to choose from, who will be the music and movie celebraties represented? Which President will be the ‘new’ Lincoln or Kennedy? When our present becomes the past, how will it be seen? What things will be thought of as fascinating? Old fashioned? Or just plain strange? What part of our history and culture will stand the test of time and become a legacy?
Until next time,