Images courtesy Early Ford V-8 Foundation.
With the Early Ford V-8 Foundation set to inherit about 60 vehicles from donors and members – and with enough space in the foundation’s museum for maybe four more cars – foundation officials have decided to put their $9 million Rotunda replica plans on the backburner and instead focus on a $1.3 million expansion that will double the size of the existing museum.
The expansion plans, revealed over the Labor Day weekend, call for an 8,700-square-foot addition on the western side of the existing 8,040-square-foot museum, located on 13 acres just outside of Auburn, Indiana. All but 700 square feet of the addition will be used for exhibit space, which means room for another 45 to 50 cars, according to Frank Scheidt, the foundation’s newsletter editor. The existing museum, which includes a gift shop and other facilities, currently houses 16 vehicles as well as the museum’s various engine displays and other automobilia.
Josh Conrad, the museum’s collection coordinator, said the foundation’s officials are just trying to prepare the museum for the future with the expansion. “A lot of guys are sending us one or two cars at a time because they don’t want to see them hot rodded,” Conrad said. “But we also have bigger collections – 17 cars, 26 cars – promised to us that could come at any time. Where are we going to put them?”
Since 2007, the foundation has been making plans to build a smaller replica of the Rotunda – the Albert Kahn-designed gear-shaped exhibit hall originally built in 1934 for Ford’s display at the Chicago World’s Fair and later moved to Dearborn, Michigan – to serve as the museum’s multipurpose room. However, those plans have only progressed as far as preliminary drawings. “The trustees just weren’t comfortable spending $9 million on it,” Conrad said.
He noted that foundation officials haven’t entirely dropped the Rotunda replica plans. Rather, the $100,000 that the foundation has raised for the Rotunda since 2009 will now go toward the museum expansion and the existing fundraiser for the expansion will continue indefinitely. “We’ve laid the building out so we can put the Rotunda smack dab in the middle of the existing museum and the expansion,” Conrad said. The plans for the expansion also include one corner set up as a Ford dealership’s showroom floor.
According to Scheidt, the foundation may break ground on the addition next spring, depending on the success of its current fundraising campaign.
For more information on the Early Ford V-8 Foundation and museum, visit FordV8Foundation.org.