Depending on your hobbies and interests, the Gilmore Car Museum is either a national or hidden treasure, but rest assured, you don't need to be a car enthusiast or even a self-proclaimed history buff to enjoy this Southwest Michigan gem!
The Gilmore Car Museum tells the history of America through the automobile by showcasing its history, heritage and social impacts. There are many reasons to visit the Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo County, but we put together a list of five of the most important reasons why you should explore all its historical sites.
1 - North America’s Largest Auto Museum
The Gilmore Car Museum started as the hobby of Kalamazoo Businessman Donald Gilmore in 1963. Gilmore was the Chairman of the Upjohn Company at the time, and opened the non-profit museum to the public on July 31, 1966, with 35 cars on display.
Today, the museum spans over 90 landscaped acres with nearly 400 automobiles on display from all different eras. There are currently eight on-site partner museums on the Gilmore Car Museum’s campus, with plans to continue to grow with more collections and buildings in the future. These collections are displayed as recreated auto dealerships, including a Franklin dealership from around 1918, a Model A Ford dealership from 1928, a 1930s Lincoln and a 1948 Cadillac dealership.
The next collection planned will be Gilmore American Muscle, a new muscle car exhibit that will be housed in a building reminiscent of an early-1970s era dealership!
All of these collections, in addition to the planned collections for the future, make the Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo the largest auto museum in North America and a must-see during your visit.
2 - Nationally Recognized as a Top Museum and Destination
- Considered one of the “Top Three Car Museums in the Nation” by the experts – Old Cars Weekly, Antique Automobile and Car Collector Magazine
- Voted Michigan’s Greatest Attraction in 2017 by USA Today
- Voted one of USA Today’s Best Attractions for Car Lovers in 2020
- Michigan's #1 Greatest Historic Auto Attraction by Pure Michigan
3 - EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED-TIME EXHIBITS AND EXPERIENCES
Alongside their permanent collections, The Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan features rotating exhibits, so there is always something new to experience. After you make your way through their acclaimed muscle car, toy cars, and other permanent exhibits, you can make your way through their seasonal, limited-time-only collections you’ve never seen before! Every visit to the Gilmore Car Museum is a unique one, making it a favorite among both locals and visitors. Check out the Gilmore Car Museum exhibits to learn which exhibits they are featuring today!
4 - You Can Time Travel Through Preserved Pieces of History
The Gilmore Car Museum tells the history of America through the automobile. The following are all permanent exhibits that you can enjoy over and over again, while learning about rich American history!
- Dust Bowl: The Great Migration - The images of long lines at soup kitchens, farms buried by dirt, and gaunt faces peering from dilapidated vehicles illustrate only part of the story. This special display takes visitors beyond the dust bowl, with a revealing display of automobiles of the era including an extraordinary Duesenberg, custom-built for Hollywood’s elite, and other makes of the 1930s.
- 1930’s Shell Station - An authentic re-creation complete with a vast display of memorabilia from the days when gas was only 18 cents a gallon! Inside, you will find a vast display of Shell and gas station memorabilia. Also featured in the Shell Station are 12 photographs titled 20th Century Artifacts: Running On Empty from Stevensville, Michigan photographer Susan Johnston.
- The Negro Motorists Green Book Exhibit - This exhibit includes life-like museum figures of a mother and daughter and a two-tone 1948 Buick sedan parked at an Esso filing station. Information panels provide details, a large video plays interviews with African-Americans who experienced discrimination while traveling and a copy of the Spring 1956 edition of a Green Book is there for museum visitors to examine.
- George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner - An authentic 1941 diner that opened for business on site in 2005.
5 - THE GILMORE CAR MUSEUM HOSTS MANY UNIQUE EVENTS AND SHOWS YEAR-ROUND
With over 90 acres and dozens of facilities, the Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo County is the perfect place to host an event. For this reason, the museum is a host of various events year-round! Classic car owners from around the nation can participate in their cruise-ins by cruising into the amazing Gilmore museum grounds and showing off great wheels. The museum also hosts a variety of car shows that honor different makes, models and transportation. Download their latest schedule to learn more.
From classic car shows and cruise-ins to concerts and special events, the Gilmore Car Museum has something for everyone, whether you’re a car enthusiast or simply interested in learning more. Check out their list of upcoming events to plan your visit.
Ready to start planning your visit to the Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo, MI? Check out their contact information, hours and additional things to know below:
6865 W. Hickory RoadHickory Corners, MI 49060
(269) 671-5089 - Fax (269) 671-5843
Summer Season (April 1 - November 30)
Monday-Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Winter Season (December 1 - March 31)
Daily 10:00am - 5:00pm
The museum is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Additional things to know:
The Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo is open year-round, the Historic Campus and outer buildings are open from April 1 through November 30.
The museum is handicap accessible, including two personal elevators allowing access to second floors. A limited number of wheelchairs (free) and mobility scooters (a daily rental fee) are available for those who may need assistance. Please ask one of the Museum Store attendants upon your arrival for assistance.
To get the most of a visit, it is suggested to allow a minimum of 4-6 hours for exploring.