Special activities are planned at the National Corvette Museum on Thursday, Feb. 12, to observe the one-year anniversary of the sinkhole that formed inside the SkyDome and swallowed eight classic Corvettes.
The disaster actually has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the museum, which earned major news coverage around the world and actually experienced a 67 percent increase in attendance for the year.
“Everyone has joked that the Museum ‘made lemonade’ out of this situation, so we thought it fitting to end our ceremony with a lemonade toast to continued good fortune for the Museum,” said Katie Frassinelli, Museum Communications Manager.
Also planned Thursday is a ceremony at 3pm CT (4 pm ET) where the first person to actually see the sinkhole – Betty Hardison, Museum Library & Archives Coordinator – will recount her experiences after being contacted by the security company early that day.
Zach Massey, Project Manager with Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction, will also talk about the repair efforts already completed inside the building and the work that remains to be done.
Of course, the big star of the day will be one of the eight Corvettes that fell 30 feet into the Earth. The 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” will be displayed for the first time at the museum after undergoing repairs. Ironically, it was the last car to fall into the sinkhole and was the first to be removed, actually cranking up that day to loud cheers from spectators after its disastrous fall.
Frassinelli also noted that the Museum is working with Creative Arts Unlimited out of Florida to come up with “a meaningful, first-class exhibit to tell the story of our sinkhole.” The construction crew has already installed a manhole which leads into one side of the cave, and the exhibit will include a kiosk connected to a camera and lights inside the cave, allowing visitors a live view of what’s underneath them.
“The exhibit should be educational and entertaining with plenty of hands-on and interactive features,” Frassinelli said.
As for the rest of the damaged cars, the Museum reports that the 1992 “One Millionth” Corvette began a six-month restoration process at the GM Design Center in Warren, Mich., last month. The Museum will be working with a private Corvette restoration shop to repair the 1962 Tuxedo Black Corvette. Currently six of the Corvettes are on display in the Museum’s Exhibit Hall. All eight are planned to be reunited later this year when the Skydome construction is complete and the building is re-opened to the public for tours. The main portion of the Museum continues to remain open for tours during the construction process, which can be observed through a Plexiglas window.
Of course, as Executive Director Wendell Strode says, the main thing about the sinkhole disaster was that “we were fortunate the good Lord was watching over us, because no one was in the Museum at the time.”
Security cameras actually caught the first moments of the 5:39am sinkhole collapse, and the footage has garnered 8.5 million views world-wide on YouTube, plus countless more via news media outlets and television documentaries:
National Corvette Museum