Watch out Petersen and LeMay. An art museum in Georgia in preparing an exhibit that rivals your efforts to showcase one major aspect of the story of the automobile.
“Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas,” which runs May 21 through Sept. 7 at the High Museum of Art, focuses on automotive design and concept cars and will include not only drawings and scale models but 17 actual vehicles arrayed in a 10,000-square-foot exhibition hall on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta.
If the High Museum triggers a memory, it’s likely because it was just four years ago that the museum showcased “The Allure of the Automobile,” a major exhibition featuring classic cars.
With Allure, “We made a very strong case that automobiles deserve to be in (art) museums. They are rolling sculpture,” said Sarah Schleuning, the High’s curator of decorative arts and design for less than three years.
“But I was really interested in what were the design ideas behind the automobiles,” she added. “I wanted to do an exhibition about create and design and the automobile is the example.
“In this case, it’s the concept car… and the people behind these ideas and what was the intention behind doing a concept car, looking at innovations that are way out in the future and exploring what it means to people.”
She said she hopes that after visiting the exhibition, people will look differently not only at classic concepts, but at the vehicles they drive on a daily basis.
“I want to take people through all the stages of taking a two-dimensional idea and turning it into a full, working, breathing thing.”
They shaped the future of the automotive industry by challenging the notion of what is possible, technologically and stylistically.”
— Sarah Schleuning
The vehicles range from the 1936 Scout Scarab to the 1951 General Motors LeSabre and 1953 Firebird I, and from a 1942 L’Oeuf electrique on loan from a museum in Paris to Italian concepts that include the 1970 Bertone Stratos HF Zero and Ferrari-based Pininfarina 512 S Modulo, as well as the 2010 Porsche 918 Spyder concept.
In addition to drawings, models and full-scale vehicles (and a full-scale, 20×6-foot rendering of a 1951 Cadillac convertible concept), the exhibition features a number of video clips, such as a test drive of the Scarab, footage from the GM Motorama dream car displays of the 1950s and a behind-the-scenes look at the designing of the Porsche concept. (Porsche’s U.S. headquarters are located in the Atlanta area.)
“The concept cars demonstrate how design can transcend the present and offer new paths and opportunities for the future,” Schleuning said. “While these cars were never mass-produced, they shaped the future of the automotive industry by challenging the notion of what is possible, technologically and stylistically.”
While the exhibition has obvious appeal to car enthusiasts, it is designed to be “exciting for people who don’t think they’re into cars,” Schleuning said.
A 160-page catalog authored by Schluening and automotive historian and consulting curator Ken Gross is being produced.
Gallery photos by Peter Harholdt (Timbs Special), Joe Wiecha (Bugatti Aerolithe), Michel Zumbrunn and Urs Schmid (L’Oeuf and Modulo), and Michael Furman.