Is this Fair Park Museum Dallas’ Best Kept Secret?
It’s been open just over a year. But in that short period of time, the Texas Museum of Automotive History (TMAH) has put together a collection of over 100 classic, collectible and rare cars along with totally transforming the Art Deco style Grand Place building in Dallas’ Fair Park into a facility fitting for a car museum. In this brief time, it has become a unique gem of a museum that hardly anyone is aware of. But with the plans that the Texas Museum of Automotive History has in place, this invisibility will soon be a thing of the past.
Opening in November of 2010, the humble beginnings soon become the reality that this Museum has plans to become one of the ‘Top 10’ auto museums in the world. Big expectations? Sure. But in Texas, isn’t that the way all thinking is?
With no significant automotive museums in Texas, there is definitely a need for such a place. Sure, there are some nice collections here and there scattered around the state and even in the Dallas/Ft Worth area but they are mostly of private collections. But true museum status collections in a museum environment, there is nothing – until TMAH opened its doors at the end of 2010. This museum has a plan for the short term to be Texas’ premier automotive museum and a plan for the long term to take it to that elite Top 10 status of the world.
In the short term, the Museum offers a wonderful automotive trip in time. For just the low admission price of $10, you can view a collection of over 100 vehicles and it is always changing. As word of the Museum gets out, the Museum curators continue to work to bring new and interesting vehicles to exhibit at this Fair Park gem. The vehicles can range from an early 1900’s vehicle that represents the very beginning of the love affair with motorized vehicles to the extreme of that love affair with modern race cars that blister the race track at incredible speeds. The styling of the 50’s is predominate in the Museum as it is these cars that offer some of the greatest contrasts and creativity in automotive design of any decade. Displayed are unique special made vehicles such as a station wagon that converts to a full fledge camping vehicle complete with a shower, or perhaps you prefer taking your office with you with the full size 60’s era automobile that has the ability to convert to a office complete with a typewriter. And since oil is big in Texas, there is even an oil field service truck from the 40’s on display. Maybe luxury is your ticket and it doesn’t get much better than with a mid 30’s Packard Super 8 convertible that finds this Museum home. Like to go fast? Well there is plenty of that too in the Museum from Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s to American muscle cars and specialty built race cars. There is one thing for sure, if you like ‘wheels’ you will find this museum a great way to spend an afternoon!
Other ways to enjoy the Museum today is in a variety of ways by attending or holding an event there. Maybe it is something as simple as a child’s birthday party to something more elaborate as a corporate meeting where you want to really impress your customers or stockholders. Want to have a wedding among millions of dollars of classic cars, the Museum can fix you up! Their annual big fund raiser is the Art Deco Ball that takes place each December that features cars, music, charity and holiday cheer! Fair Park was constructed in the mid 30’s with a heavy influence of Art Deco architecture. These structures have remained intact making it the world’s largest collection of Art Deco exhibit buildings, art and sculpture. This makes Fair Park the perfect place for the Art Deco Ball and the PERFECT place for a world class automotive museum.
The future is what is really exciting about the Museum. With plans to move into the vacated Science Museum on the fairgrounds in the next 12 to 18 months, this will give TMAH almost triple the floor space in which to work with. Vehicles will be displayed on two levels with interactive displays, exhibits and even an IMAX theatre. This increased space will lead to the goal of having a full fledge ‘Restoration Factory’ at the Museum and will greatly contribute to the success of this major museum goal. This is one of the Museum’s primary motivations, that making this factory a reality. Benefiting the Dallas Independent School District students, the Museum will work with students recruited from the DISD automotive programs and put them into a 4 year curriculum with plans to assist students into college with grants and scholarships. The factory also plans to place students at premium automotive businesses that support the Museum as interns and ultimately as employees. This is not going to be just another museum with static and stale displays, but a working educational facility that gives back to the community by teaching students life and work skills. Visitors to the Museum will be able to watch and observe classic and antique cars go through an extensive restoration process. A ‘Top 10’ automotive museum? – you betcha!
The Museum is a 501(c)(3) non profit entity and depends heavily on donations, sponsorships and hosting various events for funding. The normal hours of the Museum is Tuesday through Sunday 10AM to 6PM and it is easy to find just inside the Fair Park grounds through Gate #5. Admission is only $10. It is a great place to take out of town visitors and family for an afternoon of enjoyment young and old can take part of. You don’t have to be a ‘Gearhead’ to enjoy this most unique museum in North Texas. Kids enjoy seeing the old cars and the styling that dominated the auto industry in our past history and older visitors love to ‘remember when’. To find out more about the Texas Museum Of Automotive History, how you can contribute, hold an event there and more, find them on the web at www.TMAH.org or contact the Museum General Manager Wilbert Grinsven at 214 533-4891.