SCD: How far along are you in the process? Do you have an “Open Door” date?
MK: We have accomplished an incredible amount in two years that we could not have expected. And, I don’t want to let that momentum escape. It is an aggressive plan. With due diligence on our part, we expect to announce the site location in August at Holy Week. Site negotiations are ongoing. We have a major milestone to accomplish in the next few months regarding the site that will set much of our future schedule.
The general program requires that we go through the architectural design specification process, open a competition for design proposals, select the design and award contract(s) to break ground in 2013. The plan is to open the doors in August 2015. Albeit, a very aggressive schedule, we are convinced it is doable.
SCD: How will you go about stocking the museum with unique automobiles?
MK: In a number of ways. First, we have some great cars already pledged to the museum. As soon as we have storage facilities and take possession we will announce the gifts. Second, we also have a number of people who have offered to lend or consign their cars to get the museum launched. Third, there is no shortage of great cars here in the Monterey area and throughout Northern and Southern California to meet our needs. There are more cars available than the museum can house at any one time, so offsite storage for the very best will be part of our mission. As mentioned before, the museum will display between 110 and 120 cars, that’s throughout the whole exhibit space.
SCD: Do you have in place a plan on how you will curate the museum?
MK: We have an interesting view of that question in a sense that we will look at every make of automobile that has graced the roads from the earliest automobiles in Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach to present day. We will recognize and honor the first automobile race held in 1914, and dedicate exhibit space to the races and race venues of Pebble Beach and Laguna Seca and everything through to the current Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance. We plan to have those exhibits to be very dynamic and constantly changing. We’re going to put a lot of high tech into the museum in order that we can tell the stories about the people and the cars, making it an “up-close and personal experience” as opposed to just looking at a bunch of cars. In a similar view, there will be several curated exhibits that look at all types and classes of automobiles, comparing style and contrasting technologies.
SCD: How much thought have you given to the lighting of the displays? Will you have lighting designer on board?
MK: We clearly understand how important the role of lighting plays in a museum, and will have the best lighting designer we can find. I have an engineer in mind capable of designing the lighting for the cars. Black background and a black curtain drop is just not going to make it for us.
In addition to lighting we are looking at a number of unique technology systems. One being considered involves electronic perimeter sensors that allow a visitor to view the vehicle unobstructed yet if he walks within 12 inches it will politely tell him to step back. Another item is a sound cone where an individual can enter a space and hear a recording about the car, but the person two feet away cannot hear the recording.
SCD: What is the next step?
MK: Our major efforts are to conclude the site negotiations and accelerate the fundraising in every dimension. By the end of the year we should be working with the architects who want to bid, and refining our preliminary timeline of the milestones between now, 2011, and 2015. In addition, we expect to have major commitments of our capital campaign in place by 2013.
SCD: Can you be a little more specific on what cars you will have, will there be Can-Am and Champ Cars from Laguna?
MK: Definitely, USRRC, Can-Am, F5000, Champ Car, Trans-Am, SCCA and the Historic races are primary to the history of what has been raced at Monterey. Current racing such as ALMS, Rolex and even the MotoGP will also be part of the exhibits. Because we have so much history of big races and such a close relationship to that history, the earlier cars will likely remain the most relevant. Note, that will not dissuade us from putting other kinds of cars in special exhibits. Even to the extent of Formula One, concept cars, Hot Rods and an occasional production car may find floor space.
We know some of the racing groups and concept design people in Detroit. As an example we have contacts into Roush and Penske, we are talking to the Racing in America group that is part of the Henry Ford Museum. And, we’re talking with a number of car companies. I know some of the Lotus people and I have good friends in Europe who know a number of the F1 engineers and parts suppliers. We expect to develop some support programs with them. In light of the above we should not forget the exhibits of Classic Cars in the Pebble Beach venue or those shown in the Collectors Showcase. These cars will share equal billing to the racecars.
SCD: What about a simulator?
MK: Yes, absolutely simulators, maybe five or six so we can hold races between the cars, not just solo. We need to have them for the race crowd and our future drivers. I would like to set up a series of races as competition for a regional or maybe a world championship.
SCD: How are you going to bring younger kids and adults in the door?
MK: I believe to get children involved you must create excitement and something memorable. We have the advantage of having great educational materials, from engineering to science to sociology. Give me the space, let me have access to the kids, 6, 7, 8 years old. I’ll take them for a ride in my Model T Speedster, and they will be mine! They’ll never forget it, and that is all I want. We will continue to do events and educational programs to excite the kids, get them more involved, teach them about the sciences and work with their parents and friends.
A major emphasis of the education program is to work closely with the high schools and mechanically inclined students who like to work with their hands. As an integral part of the education mission we plan to institute a full automotive restoration science curriculum as a vocational adjunct to Monterey Peninsula College’s Automotive Tech Program. Because the vocational school will work with the primary restoration operations affiliated with supporting the museum’s work, it will also offer internship and apprenticeship programs.
There will be at least five main segments of study in the school: body, chassis, power train, interior and documentation within our restoration facility. Our goal is to have the school operating in two years. We are currently working on the program details and looking at locations to house the restoration facilities.
We have talked to a number of restorers who have expressed their need and the increasing demand for skilled, talented, trained individuals. The intent will be to model the school after the best programs in the country. A similar program is offered by McPherson College. I have met with them, discussed their program and took a tour through their facilities. There is also a new tech school in South Dakota that specializes in Hot Rods. So I plan to visit them to learn more about what they are doing. In addition, I believe the synergy of the museum and the environment of the racetrack, Concours, etc., will allow us to offer a more encompassing and engaging program than is available elsewhere.
SCD: Any last thoughts?
MK: Our first goal has been met – we know from the hundreds of people we have talked to that the belief and undying commitment we have made is important to everyone, that this is a good idea. And those who believe it is a good idea need to step forward with financial help. We are at a critical stage of fundraising right now. We need to add staff to meet the planning and development goals of the project. This is no small matter when building a world-class museum with an educational school and restoration facilities. It is estimated to cost $110 million to open the doors. We are challenged by the numbers but not deterred. There is no reason this project cannot be funded. It is a project worthy of all who love and care about cars, because it is your museum.
This is the most exciting project I have ever been involved with. It’s especially important to me since the vision can become part of our culture, shaped by the hundreds of people who will create, develop and manage the Museum. There are untold tasks that need attention; marketing the vision, writing business plans, designing facilities, creating the exhibitions, managing operations, developing curriculum, teaching and restoring cars. And, then we can take pride in knowing that thousands will re-connect, remember and re-tell the stories of their “love affair with the automobile” and, just maybe, in the process find new meaning and appreciation for the automobile.
We need everyone to step up and be counted! Support it to the best of their ability, be it with money, cars, libraries or as a volunteer. It is often quoted and true that “it takes a village to raise a child,” there is no difference here, we are pregnant with a vision and need your support to give life to sustain “Our Love for the Automobile.”
“We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.”—George Santayana
For more information, visit www.montereyautomuseum.com.
[Source: Dennis Gray]