The National Corvette Museum will be reopening to the public next Monday, June 8, and visitors post-COVID 19 will find a wealth of exciting new exhibits to see and hear.
Two galleries and one new exhibit were unveiled at ribbon-cutting ceremonies during last week’s virtual Michelin NCM Bash, including the E. Pierce Marshall Jr. Memorial Performance Gallery, “The Vision Realized” Mid-Engine Corvette Gallery, and the Entombed Corvette Exhibit.
“We have spent the last several months not only getting these amazing exhibits ready for the public, but also implementing protocol to ensure our staff and guests are safe during their visit,” NCM President and CEO Dr. Sean Preston said. “We are excited to welcome people back and feel they’ll be wowed by the many improvements our team has made.”
The Performance Gallery, which has been around since the museum’s grand opening more than 25 years ago, has been greatly enhanced thanks to the generosity of E. Pierce Marshall Jr.
“In the early days an elevated ‘racetrack’ was in place to give display cars a feeling of motion and being on the grid, but due to difficulties changing out the vehicles, was later removed,” Derek E. Moore, director of collections / curator for the Museum, explained. “The space has housed an interactive pit crew challenge, educational driving simulator and various artifacts through the years. We were thrilled that Pierce came on board to make the long overdue renovations a reality.”
Guests will now be able to enjoy digital projection, interactive touch screens paired with artifact display cases, 180-degree video footage, and, of course, an impressive lineup of cars, including at front and center, Pierce’s C7.R.
“I think the renovation to the Museum is extremely timely,” Pierce said. “To have something more interactive that will engage younger people will ensure future generations will be able to learn how unique Corvette is in America’s car culture and its racing history.”
While the NCM Bash had to be held this year via the Internet, Preston said the Museum was glad so many supporters participated virtually and were able to see the new galleries from their homes.
“We are so fortunate to have the support and enthusiasm of E. Pierce Marshall, Jr. to make this dream exhibit a reality,” Preston said, “and can’t wait until our reopening date of June 8 to share it with the world in person.”
Right around the corner from the Marshall Gallery is an unusual exhibit that we’re sure will prove to be very popular with visitors to the museum. You may remember the 1954 Corvette that was “entombed” in a brick room in the basement of a grocery store for nearly 30 years. It finally left its “tomb” in 1986 after the room was dismantled a brick at a time and eventually the car passed through several owners before finally being donated to the NCM in 2019.
“The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, donated the car so that we could continue in the preservation of both the car and its amazing story,” Moore said. “We knew we wanted to re-create the ‘tomb’ to tell that story, and thanks to the generosity of Robin and Mary Vann of the East Tennessee Corvette Club, we were able to make that exhibit a reality.”
We can’t wait to see this exhibit, designed to capture as much detail as possible about the actual tomb where the Corvette once resided, including the two light bulbs in the ceiling, small hatch in the top, and tiny window on the side where the car was viewable. At the Museum, visitors will be able to get a really good view of the car since one side of the tomb will remain open.
With the 2020 Corvette finally realizing the dream of a mid-engine Corvette, the Museum is excited to open up “The Vision Realized” exhibit that showcases the many prototypes that led to the creation of the C8.
This exhibit will be on display through at least April of 2021 in the Design and Engineering Gallery.
“We are excited to be the first Museum to house this special exhibit and are anxious to complete the new look with the arrival of CERV I, CERV II and a few other cars and artifacts on loan from the GM Heritage Center,” Moore said. “The exhibit tells the story of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s dream of one day having a production mid-engine. We only wish he could be here to see it for himself.”
Among the cars on display will be the experimental two-rotor Corvette, XP-987 GT, recently acquired by the NCM courtesy of the fund-raising efforts of Lone Star Corvette Club and Texas Corvette Association.
“Our Texas friends in these clubs have stepped forward to help us fund raise and acquire this car and we’re so excited to have such a fitting exhibit to show it off,” Director of Development and Sponsorships Amy Hardin said. “Their generosity has helped the National Corvette Museum acquire a car that had actually left the U.S. and we’re thrilled that it can now call the home of Corvette its home.”
National Corvette Museum
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