Curator on the Go
Curator on the Go
A museum curator's journalistic adventure, seeking what makes the ultimate automotive museum by visiting over 80 select institutions.
A museum curator's journalistic adventure, seeking what makes the ultimate automotive museum by visiting over 80 select institutions. Read more
About this project
Curator on the Go is a 6-month project that challenges the traditional stereotypes of museum professionals as being stationary. For close to half a year, Miguel Llorente —former curator at the Al Ain Classic Car Museum— will be touring over 80 automotive institutions across the USA, studying curatorial practices and all aspects of museum administration and design to answer the question on what makes the perfect car museum in 80 web articles.
You may know Miguel Llorente (RISD FAV, class of 2011), our Curator on the Go, from this particular photograph. It was taken in Cuba and took the automotive world by storm in 2012:
A born Mercedes-Benz enthusiast, Miguel started his career at Burlingame Motors and Dick DeLuna's private car collection, where he became acquainted with some of the finest motor vehicles in the world. He has been the co-host of the series "Open Roads" and driven half the length of the PanAmerican in a Mercedes-Benz station wagon. His biggest claim to fame came during this journey, in a stopover in Cuba, where he found some of the island's most precious metal. After a spectacular accident in Colombia, he founded the PanAmerican Travelers Association, and moved to the United Arab Emirates, where he became the Chief Curator at the Al Ain Classic Car Museum and the President at the Mercedes-Benz Club of Arabia. He is currently working towards what will be the single best automotive museum in the Middle East.
Automotive museums have a different curatorial and administrative approach than most art and history museums, given that automobiles are live machines that need to be driven and maintained in very specific spaces under very specific conditions. Currently, there is no single university imparting a Museum Studies course specializing on automotive museums; as a result, I decided to create a highly immersive experience by visiting 80 of the best museums in the country and talking to the professionals behind these institutions.
As someone who is fascinated by the diverse automotive culture in the United Arab Emirates, my ultimate goal would be to set up a world-class automotive museum in the country. While the UAE counts with top-notch collections like Rainbow Sheikh's ENAM and the Royal Auto Gallery, my focus would be a public museum with a focus on automotive culture, history and design in the style of the Petersen, the Schlumpf Collection or the Gilmore Car Museum; institutions that not only provide a retrospective on the history of the automobile, but also become active bastions of automotive culture. Think of it as a Louvre of the Automobile.
We hope to visit over 80 of the best automotive museums and private collections in the country, hand-picked from a list of 200+ museums nationwide. Each stop is detailed on this Google Document. Plotted on a map, it looks more or less like this:
The official start will be at Frank Lloyd Wright's Historic Park Inn in Mason City, Iowa; the end point of the route will be Miami, from where I will be flying home. There are a few stops to catch my breath, write extensively, meet people and maintain the vehicle. I estimate the trip to be around 10-15,000 miles —about what the average American drives in a year.
This campaign will be funded by a mix of Kickstarter donations and personal savings. Kickstarter donations will fund lodging, food, fuel, museum tickets and other small, consumable bits and bobs. Personal savings will fund the vehicle, its maintenance, and all photo/audio/navigation equipment. Bear in mind, this is nearly half a year of expenses.
This campaign commits to funding the bare essential requirements for this trip. The minimum goal of 8,500€ for this campaign is based on the fuel efficiency of a Prius, lodging under $60 a night plus lots of friends opening their homes to us, and a fair amount of PBJ sandwiches. Upgrading to better food, swankier lodging, or a less fuel-efficient car with more character (read: a classic!) will all depend on stretch goals and personal savings.
We thought you'd never ask! We have great perks for all contributions between $1 and $5,000:
Perks will be delivered at different times, depending on the perk. For example, consulting services and Sheikh's Touring Package will be delivered after the journey, while postcards will be delivered during the journey. Web mentions can include hyperlinks to your business.
SHEIKH'S TOURING PACKAGE: available to pledges of $5000 and above; includes flight, a four-day stay in a five-star hotel, sight-seeing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, one VIP ticket to Ferrari World, and a ride as a passenger in a top-notch classic car (Ferrari F40, Aston Martin DB6, Lamborghini 350GT, Mercedes 300SL, Toyota 2000GT or similar). One pledge per person.
While we are at it, we'd like to say thanks to Tomini Classics for their gift of a car ride in our "Sheikh's Touring Package". Click on their logo to see their current collection:
Besides Tomini, mentioned above, we have partnered with Motoring Middle East to release some of our en-route articles. Check them out on this link!
Furthermore, the following car museums have expressed their support for our campaign:
This list is by no means definitive. As this campaign goes on, we will get new partnering museums and institutions that are willing to sit down with us to talk about their curatorial experience. Otherwise, we will just write an article on the museums themselves. We hope to establish contact with the LeMay Collection, the Petersen, the Henry Ford, the Gilmore Car Museum, Jay Leno's Garage, and many, many others. If you happen to know anyone who works in these places, let them know about "Curator on the Go"!
Short answer: yes. Long answer: depending on the degree of funding over our goal, we might take the "Curator on the Go" tour to Europe's top ten car museums. The more money "Curator on the Go" can crowdfund, the more museums we will visit. Because we love the visionary 48 Tucker and have gotten in touch with Preston Tucker's grandson, we have also been thinking about the possibility of visiting all remaining Tuckers —some of them as far as Brazil or Japan— in a Tucker World Tour. We will see how base funding goes first!
There's a multitude of ways you can help make this campaign successful:
- Spread the word! Let your gearhead friends know about "Curator on the Go" by sharing this campaign on social media and your local press.
- Mention "Curator on the Go" on your next lunch with your local sheikh, captain of industry, billionaire hotel heiress or casino tycoon.
- We are always looking for interesting car candidates, classic or not, to take on this adventure; reliability is a complete must.
- Know of a cool private collection? Let us know, we might take a detour!
Risks and challenges
ACCOUNTABILITY: in an effort to be 100% transparent with our patrons and keep track of our monthly budget, we compromise to a detailed, publicly available expense breakdown in spreadsheet format. That way, you will get a real-time report on where every single dollar goes.
COMMUNICATION: we are open to continuous feedback once we hit the road. Assuming data reception and wifi are acceptable, we promise a minimum of one update per day.
BREAKDOWNS: while we are (somewhat) mechanically savvy; we will evaluate the costs and time of repair in the event of a catastrophic breakdown. If it proves to be too much of a sacrifice, we will continue the route in a diesel Mercedes or Japanese economy car.
ACCIDENTS: in the event of a big road accident or major natural disaster, we will suspend the campaign if our injuries prevent us from continuing. It's a risk like any other and we knock on wood that it does not happen.
UPDATES: we expect to publish each article no more than 24h after visiting each of the 80 museums along the route. Media outlets will be Motoring Middle East and This European Life / Curator on the Go.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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