"Race to the Museum": moving day

Last month we asked you to vote on which historic car you’d most like to see on temporary display, and after 24,000 votes, the 1929 Miller race car and 1948 Tucker sedan proved to be your two favorites. This is the first time the National Museum of American History has asked the public to help us choose artifacts to display, and many of my colleagues have worked very hard to make the “Race to the Museum” a reality. As you voted, another group at the museum was busy planning how to turn a mouse click into a safe, 7 mile journey.


If there is a place that calls to mind the iconic last image from from Raiders of the Lost Ark of a warehouse packed with unimaginable treasures, my vote would be for the Paul E. Garber Facility. You’ll catch a glimpse of just one of the storage buildings in the video below, but I can sum up what it feels like to walk around the mountains of history with the following conversation:

“What’s under that cover?”

“Evel Knievel’s motorcycle.”



While I’ve spent wonderful hours at Garber in countless “Whoa” moments, until now, I’d never been able to watch the process that brings those artifacts to the National Mall. In the case of the Race to the Museum, those artifacts aren’t tiny. You can banish any romantic notions of putting on a set of vintage driving goggles and taking the Miller out for a morning drive on the roads of suburban Washington. Banish may be too strong of a word, because that does sound like a lot of fun (at least in a daydream), but let’s say that the Smithsonian takes a rather more cautious approach: one that involves highly skilled technicians, curators, carpenters, exhibit designers, support staff, and one very large truck.

Can’t see the video above? You can find it on YouTube.

I hope you can visit the museum before the Miller and Tucker go back into storage. If you do, please take a moment while you’re enjoying the beauty and ingenuity of these iconic cars to think about the dozens of people who made it all possible.

The display has been extended through April 10, 2011!

If you’d like more information on all the Race to the Museum contestants you should read curator Roger White’s blog posts. I’ve also put up a few photos on the museum’s Flickr page.

What’s the future for our audience participation project? Well, why don’t you tell us?

Dave McOwen is the Internet Specialist for the National Museum of American History.