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  • The BlackHawk Automotive Museum

    On September of 1988, BlackHawk Automotive Museum opened its doors to the public. One of the unique properties about the museum is that it is located in Danville, California unlike most automotive museums that reside in the state of Michigan. The museum began its journey in 1982 from the partnership between benefactor, Ken Behring and Don Williams. The museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 private operating foundation. The museum features over 100,000 square foot of black, ruby, and pink polished Italian granite with brushed stainless steel, placid water, and gardens surrounding the building. The museum interior is essentially black with a dark charcoal highlighting the exhibits and total numbers of cars on display. The second part of the museum offers an additional 27,000 square foot wing highlighting the spectacular automotive art exhibits and the Behrig area. The museum is home to approximately one hundred spectacular automobiles and also features many of the world’s finest sculptures, paintings, and toys which are provided to the museum by private benefactors. The museum was not only designed to display automobiles, but also to be used for corporate events and functions.


    The director of the BlackHawk Automotive Museum once stated, "The completion of the Automotive Art Museum, together with the W. Everett Miller Automotive Library, now positions the BlackHawk Automotive Museum as possibly the finest museum of its type dedicated to the enjoyment, appreciation and education of the automobile art-form".


    The museum groups automobiles by their particular year or by geographical regions. The automobiles that are featured in the historic collection date from the 1890 to the 1980s. For example, automobiles that generated great legends are featured there along with automobiles such as the stunning 1924 Hispano-Suiza, 1931 Bugatti Royale Berline de Voyage, Duesenberg and Cord models, Ferrari’s, Cadillac’s, Alfa Romeo, and even a very rare Isotta Fraschini model.


    The museum also features the W.E Miller Automotive Research Library. Mr. Wellington E. Miller was an automotive designer who saved almost everything that was related to the automotive world. In 1920, Mr. Miller worked for the Robert Thompson Company in Los Angeles, California which designed and built custom cars for movie stars and celebrities. The research library is located near the lower gallery inside the museum. The library showcases many unique and rare documents along with extensive information that are used by journalist and historians from around the world.

    Today, the BlackHawk Automotive Museum reflects the dedication, creativity, and great leadership that is respected by automotive enthuses and historians from around the world. Kenneth E. Behring once said, “The museum was established to be a showcase for the greatest examples of rolling sculpture with the automobile displayed as a functional art form of design, beauty and superior craftsmanship have always paramount in the selection process, which we trust will always be evident". For further information on the BlackHawk Automotive Museum, please contact Mr. Tim McGrane 925-736-2280 X100 or email- isnyder@blackhawkmuseum.org

    A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs are courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection. (Bibliography: Padgett Nina. BlackHawk Automotive Museum California Dreamin . Collectible Automobile February 1998. BlackHawk Automotive Museum 3700 BlackHawk Plaza Circle Danville,California 94506.)

    For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email nahc@detroitpubliclibrary.org. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. For further information contact Robert Tate at btate@motorcities.org. If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez at lambriez@motorcities.org.