The LeMay – America’s Car Museum (ACM) held its grand opening on Saturday, June 2nd, 2012 in Tacoma, Washington. The 165,000 square-foot automotive museum, the largest in North America, features the cars of Harold E. LeMay, whose car collection, at its peak, numbered more than 3,000 vehicles and led to the creation of the new museum.
“This is a world-class museum,” said ACM President and CEO David Madeira. “Nothing in North America compares to our campus, which is why families have traveled from around Puget Sound, the Pacific Northwest and throughout the U.S. just to be part this celebration.”
“We’ve created a fun destination in addition to a beautiful museum. We’ve got our 3.5 acre Haub Family Field to host concerts, car shows, civic events and even drive-in movies. We have an educational center that will attract 100,000 school kids each year and unique exhibits that blend cars, music, film and photos. And all of this is centered around preserving history and creating a thriving museum at the heart of the world’s automotive culture,” continued Madeira.
Opening day visitors to the four-level museum with sweeping views of Tacoma included GM Vice President of Design Ed Welburn, Tonight Show host Jay Leno, jewelry magnate Nicola Bulgari, Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners, plus automotive enthusiasts, museum lovers and lots of families. Festivities included remarks by David Madeira and Nancy LeMay, widow of Harold, plus fireworks, an outdoor car show and a free concert by six-time Grammy Award winners Asleep at the Wheel.
After raising more than $60 million, ACM broke ground in June 2010. Two years later, the museum – projected to pump $34 million into the local economy – is showcasing exhibits that include: Ferrari in America; Indy Cars; the British invasion of the ‘60s; the classic car era; alternative propulsion; and the collections of Nicola Bulgari and Tacoma icon Harold LeMay (whose vast mix of vehicles was the genesis of the museum 14 years ago).
LeMay’s collection, estimated by the Guinness Book in the mid-90s to include a 3,000-plus cars, trucks and motorcycles, highlights cars ranging from a 1916 Pierce Arrow to a 1956 Chevy two-door hardtop.
“My husband never met a car he didn’t like,” said Nancy LeMay about Harold, who passed away at age 81 in 2000. “We created initial fundraising plans in 1998 to memorialize a portion of the collection. Today he would be so proud to see his dream become a reality and have his passion for cars displayed in such an amazing setting.”
In conjunction with its grand opening, ACM presented its “Nicola Bulgari Award” to Ed Welburn. The Bulgari award is to be annually given to individuals who make outstanding contributions to preserving America’s automotive heritage through education, restoration or collecting classic cars.
“Nicola Bulgari loves America: its movies, its jazz and, most of all, its cars,” said David Madeira. “He has devoted his life to preserving, showing and driving them, so it is very fitting that this award be given in his name.”
The LeMay – America’s Car Museum will house more than 350 vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles. Sitting on a nine-acre campus overlooking the Foss Waterway, the museum will host concerts, collector car shows and drive-in movies, and is already serving as the site for conventions, corporate meetings and events. It is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days a week through Labor Day. For more information, visit www.lemaymuseum.org.
[Source: LeMay Museum]