Posted By Margery Krevsky on February 11, 2009
Click the photo to buy the book!December 11- April 30 Skillman Library in Detroit 121 Gratiot Detroit, MI
I knew it was an honor when my book, SIRENS OF CHROME, was selected as the muse for the current exhibit at the NAHC at the SKILLMAN Library in Detroit. Mark Patrick, curator of the exhibit and Director of Special Projects for the library, believed in the power of the history of auto shows and the story it could visually tell. He and librarian Barbara Thompson were instrumental in finding some rare and seldom seen photographs for the book and they added even more to the exhibit.
The Skillman Library is an architectural treasure of Detroit. Its rotunda and art deco stairway have been featured in many books. Great scions of automotive business, writing and power, have climbed these steps to see original signatures and work of Henry Ford, George Romney and Lee Iacocca.
During the research process of the book, the library ascertained this would be of interest to the public. After all, 20 million people across the country attend auto shows each year. To prepare they contacted sculptor, Don Sommer founder of the Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, to display his replicas of classic hood ornaments. Automotive photographer, Bill Rauhauser was invited to show a segment of his collection. Rare magazine covers were removed from the archives and carefully reproduced. Audio/video DVDs were procured from auto manufacturers back files. Posters were made to celebrate the event and the date of December 11th was set for the grand opening. This was a magic evening of automotive, social, library, and event-going people. The granddaughter of Henry Ford, Eileen Ford, attended with charming stories about her beloved grandfather. Models in vintage auto show costumes enhanced the evening not only with their looks, but also their automotive knowledge.
So it opened and at the end of a very successful evening, Patrice Merritt, Executive Director of the DPL Friends Foundation said to me: “Finally we made the library sexy.”
After being opened for over a month, other museums and libraries have expressed interest in obtaining the exhibit for their properties. The lure of automotive history and cars is part of our cultural pull and compelling to see. I always like to say “No one forgets their first kiss, first love and first car.” Word of the exhibit and book have spread through radio interviews I have done on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” The Warren Pierce Show and Metro Networks with Alisa Zee in Detroit. I have been traveling across the USA doing book signings and love meeting people who can talk about cars. I tell them all about the exhibit and some are making it a destination event.
I like going back to the exhibit to see the depth of information included from the Dagmar Bumpers to the film footage of Lucy and Desi in their movie “The Long Long Trailer.” Viewing the commercials of GM vehicles in locations across the globe is a ride back in time and fashion. Seeing clips of Dinah Shore singing”Drive the USA in your Chevrolet” documents the first automotive diva. Then there are the specific auto show photos with historical reference from the Miss America tie in with GM to press conference exotic cars to futuristic technology that is now a reality.
The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours.