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April 4, 2016

Museum's Speaker Series Ushers in Spring Season

For more information please contact: Jay A. Follis – Director of Marketing 269-671-5089 MUSEUM SPEAKER SERIES USHERS IN SPRING SEASON Hickory Corners – The Gilmore Car Museum 2016 Speaker’s Series ushers in the spring season with its final installment on May 1. Topics this year’s guest presenters have discussed include electric cars from over 100 years ago, local inventor J.B. Rhodes who has been referred to as “Kalamazoo’s Edison”, and the Gilmore Car Museum’s fiftieth anniversary, just to name a few. The Museum’s final lectures of the season will resume on Sunday, April 10 and run through May 1. All lectures start at 3pm. “Everything from Michigan’s first auto dealers, homemade auto license plates, classic wooden boats, and the automotive tin toys of yesteryear,” explains Fred Colgren, Education Director at the Museum, “will be covered in the last of the speaker series.” “There is certain to be something of interest for everyone,” he continued. Each of the Sunday afternoon presentations are free with regular Museum admission or cost only $5 per person. The lectures are appropriate for all ages and guests are encouraged to attend those that interest them most. No registration is required and walk-ins are welcome. According to Michael Spezia, Museum Executive Director, the Speaker Series has become known for assembling a renowned group of historians, scholars, and authors—all experts in their respective fields—to present on a variety of topics. Due to its popularity the winter Series that started 3 years ago was extended into May for 2016. In honor of 2016 marking the Gilmore Car Museum’s 50th Anniversary, the first lecture in the series was entitled “The Gilmore at 50”, and has continued with a variety of fascinating topics and offered a few surprises along the way. The final Gilmore Speaker Series presentations for 2016 will include: Sunday, April 10 1909 1910 platesOn Sunday, April 10 license plate collector and expert Greg Gibson, who literally wrote the book on the history of Michigan’s license plates, will present an overview on the topic at the Gilmore Car Museum. Gibson, a retired GM worker from Fenton, MI has been collecting automotive license plates for 40 years and currently serves as president of the national Automobile License Plate Collector Association (ALPCA). While we each have registrations on our cars we hardly give them a second thought but license plates do have a fascinating history of their own. At one point between 1907 and 1910, Michigan motorists were required to make their own license plates—often of leather, rubber or wood, or from mail-order kits sold by companies like Sears & Roebuck. The first plates manufactured by the state were porcelain covered steel, much like how old claw-foot bathtubs were produced. And yes, prison inmates have been producing Michigan license plates since 1918 and this year will make more than 2 million plates. Sunday, April 17 Tin Toy 2sDuring the presentation, “Tin Toys of Yesteryear: From Realistic to Whimsical” on Sunday April 17, noted collector Jack Nottingham will provide a look at post WWII tin toys along with an overview of the Museum’s new special exhibit. After long, hard hours of children’s play most toys became broken, battered and often discarded—yet most in this private collection remain in pristine condition. The special exhibit features mostly automotive examples made immediately after the war in the occupied countries of Japan and Germany; from companies such as Nomura, Bandai, and Kosuge 7 of Japan, and Schuco from Germany. This is a very rare opportunity to see a selection from one of the world’s premier collections of tin toys and hear Nottingham explain their detailed lithography and intricate clock-like mechanisms. Sunday, April 24 Wooden Boat 2010 (8)Long before "Water Wonderland" first appeared on Michigan license plates in 1954, the people of the state had a love affair with the now classic wooden boat. David Irvine, the producer of the popular "Runabout Renaissance" documentary series, will discuss wooden pleasure boating on Sunday, April 24 at 3pm. Discover the industry, restoration, and research available on these historic boats, as well as other resources available to both those with a casual interest, as well as wooden boat enthusiasts. Join Irvine as he takes us on a journey to visit the characters and places where these enthusiasts congregate and discover why so many people are drawn to this interesting and fun hobby. Sunday, May 1 Car dealership circa 1905The final installment of the 2016 Gilmore Speaker Series wraps up on Sunday, May 1 with a look at “The Earliest and Oldest Auto Dealerships in Michigan.” It will be presented by Jay Follis, the Museum’s Director of Marketing and author of a recent Michigan History Magazine article on the subject, and promises a few surprises. In our current age of multi-location mega dealership featuring plush cafes and waiting areas it may be difficult to visualize the humble beginnings of automobile sales. In fact, one of the largest transportation displays to introduce the automobile to the United States was almost completely ignored. Ten years later the horseless carriage was considered a plaything of the rich and a passing fad. It wasn’t until a few enterprising folks—true agents of change—began offering demo rides and sales of these newfangled contraptions that the auto industry truly started to grow. Whether your interest is in Michigan license plate history, toys of yesteryear, classic wooden boats, or discovering the history of the state’s earliest auto dealers, you’re sure to find each of the remaining 2016 Gilmore Speaker Series presentations engaging, entertaining and informative for the entire family. The Gilmore Car Museum is located just 20 minutes north of Kalamazoo or 45 minutes south of Grand Rapids. Since 1966, the Gilmore Car Museum has been honoring the past, celebrating the present and imagining the future! For more information on the Gilmore Speaker Series or other events, please visit or call (269) 671-5089.