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WPC Museum Permanently Closing?

Discussion in 'Mopar News' started by valiant67, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. jerseyjoe

    jerseyjoe Plymouth Makes It

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    I like that idea, split up the vehicles and show them at large dealerships and rotate around the country. If I had bucks I would buy the GM Future liner and stuff a Mopar in it, drive around the country showing one vehicle at a time.

    gm futurliner - Google Search

    Put FCA in place of the GM logo and paint it plum crazy.
     
    #41 jerseyjoe, Nov 5, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  2. Lee N. Burns

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    I am well aware of all these points. However, my comment was intended to address the main problem with the museum; which is it's location far-off the tourist path. It is a beautiful building and an excellent museum, but it's location isn't even well-suited for metro Detroit. It also isn't enough of a draw for non-car people, like the Henry Ford which is like a mini-Smithsonian that happens to have an (all-makes) car museum.

    What I believe would work, if "FCA" was truly interested in Chrysler heritage, would be to open something in the 10-15,000 sq. ft range within a reasonable distance of Detroit's downtown/convention/sports district. This places it centrally for locals, allows it to become an event center and a legitimate visitor attraction. Of course that size doesn't allow a full display of the collection, which means it would rely on multimedia (video walls). The physical displays could be rotated and themed.

    It's wonderful to display cars at CTC, but that's somewhat like preaching to the employee-discounted choir. The museum should be seen as a "goodwill" contact point for potential customers. That's how GM treats its Heritage Center, and how Ford handles their Rouge Plant tours. Lacking something similar (especially now that Viper ceases as an attraction) is just another way the company appears less-and-less like a full-service concern.

    You can rationalize this anyway you choose, but keep in mind that the people they need to reach are not on an Allpar forum.
     
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  3. redriderbob

    redriderbob Mopar Guru!
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    Its not that far of the beaten path. Its about a 15 minute drive from the Detroit city limits. Like I said the problem was fundraising and the biggest problem was finding volunteers.
     
  4. Lee N. Burns

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    A 15 minute drive into the middle of nowhere in terms of other things to do, and more like an hour from the Henry Ford. Add in weekday rush hour and a 14 year construction project on I-75, and "no thank you" for many.
     
  5. redriderbob

    redriderbob Mopar Guru!
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    The Henry Ford is a completely different atmosphere than the WPC Museum. The Henry Ford has aircraft, automobiles, as well as many other historic things as well as Greenfield Village behind it. The Walter P. Chrysler is a fraction of the size of The Henry Ford and is a simple three story structure that houses about 80 of strictly Chrysler historical vehicles at a time.

    The WPC Museum is only minutes away from most of the population in the burbs in Northern Metro Detroit area. So its not that bad. But the WPC Museum is a place you go for a few hours, where you could spend days at The Henry Ford. The only time I ever spend an entire day at WPC Museum is if there is a car show going on.
     
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  6. KrisW

    KrisW Active Member

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    I don't think it's the size so much as the size versus the amount of planning needed for a visit - if you go there, you're only going there; there's nothing else around for a visitor. Being a one-company collection limits the audience a bit too.

    Alfa's Centro Storico site in Arese also has about eighty cars on show, but it has two advantages over the WPC: First, about a third of that exhibitionn is of vintage competition cars, which are a draw for general car enthusiasts and motorsport fans, not just Alfa fans. But, the real reason Alfa's museum is viable is because there's a million square feet of retail mall located a half-mile away on the old Arese factory site. That centre draws enough people into the general area to make a visit to the museum an impulse decision rather than a planned trip.

    Incidentally, there is no "FIAT museum". Turin is home to the Italian "National Museum of the Automobile", and FIAT's history is well represented there, but it's not a one-company show by any means. That museum is located in the city of Turin, well served by public transport, it's on the tourist trail, and it is funded by the government of Italy and the city of Turin - all advantages that a factory museum usually won't have. Many of the FIAT cars shown are from the company's own collection, on semi-permanent loan to the museum.

    I think loaning of the collection to existing auto museums is the most likely outcome for the WPC cars. Nothing will be sold (on the contrary, FCA companies have bought rare examples of their products in the past)
     
  7. rapidtrans

    rapidtrans Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, you can't compare WPC to the Ford. WPC is much smaller and staffed by volunteers who are pbably dwindling in numbers. I'd still like to see them keep it in tact and maybe open it on weekends through the summer staffed buy local mopar clubs and employee volunteers. It has been a great place for cars shows in the past. FCA employees themselves own out some nice mopars. Just my thoughts.
     
  8. Lee N. Burns

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    Am I writing in some kind of language that cannot be understood? I am not equating the WPC to the HF. Because it is not the HF, it is not a regional or tourist draw.

    But for tens of thousands of Metro-Detroiters or Tourists, it requires the same type of distance and time investment as the HF, so it either needs to become an HF-like attraction (not going to happen, not suggested) OR it needs to locate centrally in a high-density area that will see a fair amount of tourism. That means downtown Detroit. In fact my only reason to suggest "downsizing" the displays is because that real estate could get pricey.

    A day at the current WPC means arriving at 9 AM. Done by noon if you're a hard-core car person and want to read everything. Now what do I do? Get lunch at Applebees or another generic chain 3-4 miles away? Then what? Drive around and look at industrial complexes? Oakland Mall? Go back to my hotel near the airport 45 miles away? The WPC is located in a sleepy bedroom/corporate corridor and offers little of interest for outsiders. Within the Downtown area, I can also go to the Detroit Historic Museum, the Art Museum, the Motown Museum, one of 3 casinos, entire restaurant districts, tour the Fisher building, see the GM exhibits at their HQ, go to/from Windsor Canada (ballet anyone?) and any one of a dozen hipster things that I don't know about.

    And remember, the whole point of the thing isn't to make money, although it shouldn't be a money pit. The point is about building the brand awareness/heritage/equity, creating buzz on social & conventional media; connecting to new product, ultimately creating something desirable, like a John Varvatos leather jacket or a Shinola watch. You measure that with higher transaction prices.
     
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  9. rapidtrans

    rapidtrans Well-Known Member

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    I live in the middle of nowhere?
    The museum is closing because they need the office space. Not due to lack of attendance or profits.
    It doesn't require metro Detroiters do anything.
    I always saw the WPC more aimed for employees staffed by retiree volunteers. Never intended to be a commercial enterprise.
     
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  10. CudaPete

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    Move it to the Chelsea proving ground and offer "dynamic demonstrations" of new iron.;)
     
  11. jerseyjoe

    jerseyjoe Plymouth Makes It

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    The excuse for closing is just that an excuse. Why study history anyway.
     
  12. dennisimperial

    dennisimperial Well-Known Member

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    Maybe Erasing Chrysler Brand too???:oops::oops::oops:
     
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  13. Lee N. Burns

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    Don't take it personal, but northern Oakland county is the middle of nowhere for tourists. That's not a bad thing if you live there, it's just a bad place to locate a regional attraction. See also: Flint's "Autoworld". I believe it's closing for lack of relevance because it's always been a catch 22... Staff it, host events and the costs escalate. Lower costs, open it minimally and few people attend.

    ...and I respectfully disagree with your last statement. From the very beginning the WPC has hosted events designed for non-employees. Many of the displays; like cranking the alternator/generator or moving the axle on the Airflow toy-car, are designed to be interactive for children. In fact, schools were regular visitors. I don't think it was intended to be a profit center, but it's not supposed to be a money pit either. Located closer to other Detroit attractions (museums, casinos, stadiums, Cobo, hotels, restaurants) it would serve the mission of building brand awareness. Employees can still be free and cars can still be rotated and parked inside CTC.
     
    #53 Lee N. Burns, Nov 17, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
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  14. jerseyjoe

    jerseyjoe Plymouth Makes It

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    I wonder what will happen to the exibits? I have seen industries destroy things they no longer use rather then looking for so something usefull to do with the content. In NYC I saw a bank interrior that was kept up from the 1800s in perfect condition fall to the sledge hammer. Brass bars marble, cut glass and converted gas fixtures destroyed in minutes by a hundred men. These things cannot be reproduced without enormious expense. I was disturbed by the thoughtless actions of management in a hurry. What actually will be done with this Chrysler stuff?
     
    #54 jerseyjoe, Nov 17, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  15. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    (sigh) as happened to the 33rd Street Post Office just this year. Very sad... it was an enormously beautiful, expensive space and it was reportedly destroyed...

    I am hoping it's all stored.

    The area was very far from normal tourist runs, the only other attraction I can think of in the area was Meadowbrook.
     
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  16. FreeLantz

    FreeLantz Well-Known Jeeper
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    A few years ago I contacted the WPC museum about donating a large collection of factory press photos I had. They told me they would take them, if I would deliver (or pay for shipping). I wound up donating the items to Allpar instead. But I wonder how much literature and materials stored in boxes or cabinets remain at the WPC and will become of all that stuff... ? I know one thing, if I lived close by I would keep an eye on the dumpsters, just in case. :(
     
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  17. jerseyjoe

    jerseyjoe Plymouth Makes It

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    I am trying to gather my dwindeling mopar friends to go to the museium but no takers. Most have switched brands and others have lost interest for one reason or another. This is a bad time of year to close when the holidays are coming up. Spoke to the wife about this and was quoted our commitments till Christmas. I wil go one way or another even if its to stare at an empty space.

    Is there a day that a closing ceremony is being held?
     
  18. jerseyjoe

    jerseyjoe Plymouth Makes It

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    Some of the stuff should go to Hershey PA.
     
  19. Lee N. Burns

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    This is terrible thing to read, yet I completely believe it's true.

    I've made the case against the current WPC museum, based on logistics. However, I even more strongly believe it should reopen elsewhere and the quoted post above is exactly why.

    While the Chrysler brand is at a low point right now, it has been ascendant in the recent past. All brands go through this to an extent... Even the sainted Jeep, circa 2009 might be a good example. Several models in the lineup that are panned by enthusiasts (Liberty, Compass, Patriot, Commander) Grand Cherokee de-contented, Wrangler a clunky (if capable) gas-guzzler. If there were ever a low-equity point to begin winding it down, that was it. But of course that would have been stupid, because of the Jeep loyalists. Since 2011, the Jeep brand has been an ascendant profit-center.

    I would argue that Chrysler loyalists (both to the brand and the company) have been treated very poorly in comparison and the brand's descent has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What could have mitigated that, even in the face of a reduced product line, would have been cost-minimal (or neutral in some cases). Abruptly closing the museum is one example.
     
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  20. jerseyjoe

    jerseyjoe Plymouth Makes It

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    I would offer to send my 09 Challenger to the crusher to save even the most lowley Chrysler product. That would give me space in my garage and I know of two other people who could house 1 car each.
     

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