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Gilmore Car Museum plans 50th anniversary celebration with special display, lecture series

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Photos courtesy Gilmore Car Museum.

Donald Gilmore didn’t even care much for old cars before he retired, but his wife, Genevieve, figured he needed something, anything, to keep him busy after a long career in business, and decided an old Pierce-Arrow would do the trick. It did, and that Pierce-Arrow, in turn, led to the formation of the Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo, which will celebrate its upcoming 50th anniversary with a retrospective of Donald Gilmore’s cars and life.

If any structure can be considered the progenitor of the Gilmore Car Museum, it’s the surplus Army tent that Donald Gilmore stored the Pierce-Arrow under after Genevieve bought it for him in 1963. That car, as Jim Donnelly explained in his profile of the couple in the November 2013 issue of Hemmings Classic Car, led to others, and that tent led to first a purpose-built three-car garage and then to a larger shop and display room on 90 acres he bought specifically for his growing old car hobby.

By 1966, the Gilmore collection had grown to 45 cars and the couple decided it was time to create a museum and non-profit dedicated to the cars. He bought three barns from the area, dismantled them, and had them reassembled on the 90-acre property specifically to house the collection and opened the museum on July 31 of that year. Donald continued to enjoy his museum for another nine years, and since then the museum has added a number of other structures to house partner museums dedicated to Pierce-Arrows, Full Classics, Franklins, Ford Model As, Lincolns, and Cadillacs and LaSalles.


To celebrate, the museum has announced a special exhibit dedicated to the cars of Donald Gilmore, an exhibit which presumably would include that 1920 Pierce-Arrow, as well as an overview of the museum’s 50-year history as part of the museum’s third annual lecture series. The 2016 lecture series, which has yet to be finalized, will begin on January 10. The exhibit on Donald Gilmore’s cars will begin this winter. For more information, visit