After exploring the Ford Factory, we moved onto the
Ford Museum and Village.
Both enormous, seemingly never-ending.
Henry Ford created the Museum and Village for people to experience everything he accomplished and collected and more—
factory machine replicas,
every classic Ford you can think of,
trains, campers, other classic non-Fords, (left: replica 1860 passenger coach)
student designed futuristic cars,
a diner (right: Lamy’s Diner, 1946)
a car made of clay,
an original McDonald’s sign,
and so much more.
There was not a shortage of sleek cars or car advertisements throughout the era since Ford began. The focus leaned toward aesthetics; more social context for the time periods would help ground each.
[I know; I always want MORE context!]
There were a few notable social justice themed exhibits around Civil Rights and women’s suffrage, and a small cases display around LGBTQ+ rights…though admittedly, the teens present wanted to focus more on
so I can’t point to much.
What I do recall is inclusion of Indian Removal Act and other laws impacting land rights…in fact, the phrasing was a bit awkward using the term “Indian” without “American”.
without American, Indian refers to someone from Indian, so “Indian” just reads as a bit naïve in the exhibit).
[Non-linear Side note: I did not know Henry Ford was an anti-Semite! I did not see any exhibition text around it–could have missed–but there is, thanks to a reader, this post on the Ford Museum website about it! Good to acknowledge institutional limitations…]
Random cool thing:
seeing the bus Rosa Parks’ infamously sat in in 1955; very well contextualized and the size and enormity exemplifies and makes authentic at least some of the impact of this happening in history.
The Village! was wack. A farm, villages, shops, homes, a train…all set in and around his living era and notably the year he was aged 13 – even transported his family home to the Village, and had people traveling across the nation in search of exact items to make his childhood home complete – his grandmother’s boots and bed, piano, lamps, kitchen items (the kitchen right) …could you imagine recreating a home of yours at 13?
At 13, in 1993, I lived in a mid 20th c. home in Omaha. I remember the living room with floral covered furniture we couldn’t go into (I imagine it like the left, but it wasn’t that fancy I’m sure!!), my dad’s office where he read the paper and watched golf, and my brother’s windowless basement room he loved.
My room was upstairs, I had pink floral wallpaper and an extra attic space that I called boys on the phone in, and played Ouija board. I got my first CD boom box in that house (first CD: Blind Melon’s No Rain), but still listened to records and tapes (especially mixes!) I got my first computer and loved playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego and practicing typing with Mavis Beacon. I had a window seat with a bench I loved to read dark teen novels on, like Go Ask Alice, The Bell Jar and Crosses; or write in my journals. My furniture was all white rattan, and I had a t-shirt quilt on my bed that my mom made of my old 80’s tees. I had various magazine clippings of boys on the wall and piles of Seventeens I frequented….So many memories in that space!! (below: my furniture set I loved!! But rest of image isn’t as kitchy/90s/teeny-bopper as my room!)
All to say: his ability to recreate his home, this village, Museum, dedicated to HIM – is literally the epitome of privileged perspective and creating “history”.
[side-note: I think of Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s Womanhouse (1972) where they are their California State University feminist art students took over a dilapidated Los Angeles house, each room transformed into a space dedicated to women’s experiences–21 feminist installations such as “Bridal Staircase,” “Nightmare Bathroom,” “Eggs to Breasts,” and “Leah’s Room from Collette’s Cherie.” Mentioning this really exemplifies the difference and impact in curation–Womanhouse, a collaboratively-made immersive exhibition exploring many women’s EXPERIENCE (notably topics not normally spoken of [above–Judy Chicago’s 1995 recreated Menstruation Bathroom]–vs. Ford’s monument to himself, really, an immovable moment in time, without recognizing complexities. It’s not that it’s “bad” it’s just way less interesting, to me. I digress….]
In my day job working in Institutions throughout my “career” – I guess I can call it that 🙂 – I’ve witnessed objects/works on display simply because it was donated by someone important…so being aware of this when visiting spaces, museums, exhibitions, etc. can help ground what / whose story is being told and what may be left out…
Think about such fun/random things/installations like Womanhouse that might mess up such (mis)representations in somewhere like the Ford–what about a President’s first car rather than his Presidential limousine–or even some random rocker or other mover or shaker? Artists reimaginations?
I just googled Nicolas Cage’s first car…I don’t know why he’s most random celebrity at this moment…turns out he has an ample car collection! OMG check this out! 35 famous people’s first cars – Conan O’Brien’s was a Ford Taurus!! Come on that is rad!
What about community members’ / factory workers stories, first cars, homes, etc?
What else might challenge normative linear storytelling?
I’ll leave you with that….