Henry Ford Museum to unveil new exhibition of classic cars

Workers at the Henry Ford Museum are busy setting up a major new exhibition of 130 historically significant cars and trucks.

Driving America opens on January 29 and focuses on the effect of the automobile on American culture through interactive touchscreen displays, artifacts, and personal accounts. There’s even a mobile diner from 1946 that will be serving classic American diner food.

Of course it’s the cars that are the main attraction. Ranging from the 1890s to the early 2000s, they include numerous innovative designs such as the Model T, the 1907 Rocket Stanley Steamer, and the 1973 Chrysler Newport, which at 19 feet long makes it look like a tank next to some of the miniature cars of today. Driving America doesn’t just look at Ford products; several cars are on loan from other collections and include rival companies such as Honda.

For more on the Henry Ford Museum, check out this article by Gadling’s very own Paul Brady.

Steamer photo courtesy Richard H. LeSesne.

Video of the Day: Dog in Cars

If you have dogs, you know that car rides can be an adventure. Whether you’re on a road trip, running errands or just taking your pups to the vet, time in the car with dogs is always interesting. I have two dogs and they couldn’t be more different in the car. We take our dogs camping, on hikes and to family gatherings. Our little guy curls up in a ball and sleeps. Our black lab mix, however, barks, spins in circle and, if we let him, sticks his nose out of the car. He then makes strange horse noises. I remember, as a kid, seeing dogs heads sticking out of cars and thinking that they looked so happy. It’s a dogs life out there.

Video of the Day: Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietman

Everyone I know who has spent any time in Vietnam has bemoaned how challenging it is to cross the streets there. It’s like a game of Frogger, but the stakes are much higher. This time lapse shows just how chaotic and frenetic the streets of Ho Chi Minh City actually are. The number of motorbikes along is staggering. Add to that roundabouts, limited traffic signage and pedestrians and you have yourself some organized chaos. We recommend that you look both ways (heck, look up and down while you’re at it) before crossing the street.

Naming My Traveling the American Road Ride

After more than 1,000 wonderful suggestions, I’m finally ready to take the major step of naming my car. After all, I’ve already logged more than 2,500 miles on the beast after starting this epic road trip. If not now, when?

There were a number of strong entries. Marylin Thomas had a good suggestion: “If I had a Ford Explorer I probably would name him after one of the famous explorers but it would have to be an American one.” It’s a great, thoughtful idea, but a little short on specifics: An American explorer like Meriwether Lewis or someone who explored America like Columbus?

It remains an open question…

Maxine had a sci-fi inspired name, going with TARDIS, a name from Dr. Who, translated to my road trip: Traveling the American Road, Driving in Style. But that might be a little lengthy for a nickname-not to mention way too nerdy for mass consumption.

A different Marilyn suggested I take a cue from my tag numbers, saying “I have named my cars using their license plate letters. HZL368 was named Hazel. WZZ3508 has been named Dorothy, after the Wizard of Oz.” The downside is that my plates don’t create an inspired name, as I only have one letter among a sea of numbers.

At least one commenter went with a pun: “Since this is the Traveling the American Road car, how about Jack Car-ouac.” I like it, but it’s not quite there.

I’m going with Andy‘s idea, which comes with a similar literary reference: “I think you should name it ‘Charley,’ after the 1960 memoir ‘Travels with Charley,’ by John Steinbeck, who traveled America with his French poodle Charley.” For coming up with the winner, Andy wins a free HP VEER PHONE (valued at $99.99), as promised in our original announcement of the naming contest. Nicely done, Andy!

It’s more than just the poetry of the entry I like. A friend of mine bought me a copy of the book before I left to start this trip-and he picked up his own copy too. When I finally get home, still a long while from now, we’ll talk about the book we both plan to read while I’m traveling. But for now, it’s a connection to home I’m carrying with me, a reminder that no matter which floor I’m sleeping on, this trip, like all trips, will eventually come to an end.

Warsaw, Poland: an up-and-coming European museum destination

As an EU member with a good exchange rate and low prices, Poland is becoming a popular tourist destination in Eastern Europe. Most of the love goes to Krakow, with its original architecture and “new Prague” charm, but capital city Warsaw has plenty to offer as a European museum destination. While much of the old town was leveled in World War II, the restorations have been painstakingly done and the tumultuous history makes for a great basis for museum exhibitions.

Like Berlin, Warsaw has embraced its past and given the visitor plenty to learn from and new investments mean state-of-the-art attractions and exhibitions.

Given all of the places to see, Warsaw could easily fill a week (or two) on a Europe trip. Here’s a look at some of Warsaw’s best museums.

Warsaw (Up)Rising Museum – Warsaw’s proudest museum is a hi-tech interactive experience detailing the events of the two-month rebellion of the Polish people against the German forces as well as what preceded and followed. It borders on being overly comprehensive, the hundreds of artifacts can overwhelm, as can the crowds who line up daily. Be sure to follow museum signs as you walk through, as the chronological exhibit doesn’t necessarily follow the logical path.

Gestapo Headquarters and Pawiak Prison – Two of the city’s most unassuming buildings were once the most feared. Not as flashy as the Rising Museum but equally effective, the former Gestapo HQ contains a few stark cells that once held prisoners to be interrogated and often tortured before being taken to the prison, along with very professionally-done interactive displays telling the experiences of the poor souls held there. Most of the prison in the former Jewish ghetto has been destroyed, but dozens of artifacts and exhibits explain the prisoners’ conditions and attempt to describe the horrors that happened there.

Fryderyk Chopin Museum – Another hi-tech, multimedia extravaganza, this brand new space dedicated to Poland’s most famous composer goes beyond the usual exhibition with a fully customizable experience. Sample sounds from a rare score, read letters to the important women in Chopin’s life, and see a recreation of his Paris drawing room.

Palace of Culture and Science – Not so much a museum as a gift Warsaw can’t hide away, the tallest building in Poland was a gift from Joseph Stalin and it’s hard to go anywhere in the city without seeing the Soviet beast. Though the building is enormous, not much of it is open to the public. It’s worth a trip to the terrace for panoramic city views (see above photo) or spend an afternoon making sense of the bizarrely curated Museum of Technology.

Want more history? There are also museums dedicated to the Polish People’s Movement and Polish Independence, plus the many churches and monuments of the restored Old City and Krakowskie Przedmiescie street. Warsaw’s Jewish culture is also well-documented at the new Jewish Museum and Wola district historical museum.

Well-done in Warsaw

Center for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle – A few blocks away from the Gestapo Headquarters, the building has a history as a royal residence, medical hospital, and now modern art museum. Some of the most innovative artists in Poland and Europe are showcased here: November saw a show focused on Internet-shaped culture such as a scrolling display of Twitter results for the phrase “Best day ever.”

Warsaw Zoo – In addition to being a nicely-maintained habitat for animals, this zoo has a fascinating and heroic past. Diane Ackerman’s book The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the story of the zoo director who aided in war efforts and saved many Jewish Poles from the Nazis by hiding them in the animal cages.

Royal Castle and Wilanow Palace – Just outside the Old City, the Royal Castle was also rebuilt from scratch and houses a slew of antiques and artwork, as well as excellent temporary exhibitions such as Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine” and other treasures from other museums. If you visit in good weather, it’s worth a day out of town to visit the grand Wilanow Palace and gardens, the Polish Versailles.

Not exhausted yet? Small museums also specialize in collections of cars, trains, military weaponry, horse-riding, caricatures, and Polish physicist Marie Curie. See the In Your Pocket Warsaw guide for more info.