Harley-Davidson: History, Mythology and Perceptions of America’s Motorcycle

1928 Harley Davidson Pea Shooter photo credit John Sterling Ruth
1928 Harley-Davidson photo credit: John Sterling Ruth
1912 Harley-Davidson photo by John Sterling Ruth
1912 Harley-Davidson photo credit: John Sterling Ruth

May 18 – October 20, 2019

Hershey, PA (May 05, 2019) The AACA Museum, Inc. is proud to announce the upcoming exhibit, “Harley-Davidson: History, Mytholog, and Perceptions of America’s Motorcycle.” The exhibition will run from May 18 – October 20, 2019; with an exhibit opening event on May 17th.

The story of Harley-Davidson serves as a parallel narrative of 20th century American culture and history. The company originated in the industrial age, was the eventual victor in a hard-fought business and racing struggle with rival Indian, and experienced low points as well as triumphs. The machines themselves developed in response to America’s cheap fuel and vast distances. Now, around the world, Harley-Davidson enjoys a cult-like status. The brand has for decades evoked strong emotion among both motorcyclists and observers.

Harley-Davidson’s is a complex and provocative experience—far more than the look and rumble of a V-twin engine. Harley-Davidson is an innovator, a touchstone of American pride and independence, a fascinating marketing mechanism, an undeniably excellent motorcycle, and a national cultural institution. Simultaneously, Harley is a company which plays hardball with profitability and workers, has on occasion overlooked technical innovation and quality control, faced failure, has pushed out small dealers who had supported The Motor Company during the lean years, and sold its product at prices beyond the reach of many enthusiasts. Harley-Davidson is truly as complicated and interesting as the United States that it has come to represent.

We will examine Harley through seven key themes. These are:

  • Harley As An American innovation
  • Harley versus Indian
  • The ‘American Motorcycle’—why Harley?
  • The Situation is in Doubt: Decline and AMF years
  • Rebirth:  The 1981 buy-back, a painful housecleaning and the success years
  • “I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation:” Harley, Outlaws, American society, and other motorcyclists
  • The future is in gear

Illustrating the Harley-Davidson story will be thirty-four important and beautiful examples of the brand. These examples will include vintage racing, touring, custom and service motorcycles.   The vehicles will span from 1912 -1980.

The AACA Museum, Inc. has a spring exhibit opening planned for Friday, May 17 from 5:30 – 9:00 PM.  This opening will be for all of our summer exhibits including “Studebaker Cool:  114 Years of Innovation”, “A Raymond Loewy Retrospective,” “Pontiac Oakland Club Keystone State chapter display,” and of course “Harley-Davidson:  History, Mythology, and Perceptions of America’s Motorcycle.    We’ll feature a lively discussion on everything Studebaker followed by a book signing with Studebaker experts Andrew Beckman – archivist for the Studebaker Museum; Patrick Foster – Automotive Historian & Author, and Mark James – Hawk Expert & Author.   The program will be moderated by Bill Rothermel an Automotive Historian and Writer.   Visit AACAMuseum.org for pricing and full details.   Advance registration is required to participate in this program.

“Studebaker Cool:  114 Years of Innovation” exhibit will include everything from the early World War I era to the Supercharged Fiberglass Avanti sports car including a rare sampling of trucks, modified cars, and even the Studebaker the public never saw – the 1962 Sceptre.   “Raymond Loewy Retrospective” is being done in cooperation with The Hagley Museum and Library along with the Raymond Loewy Estate.   It will highlight the innovation of design by Raymond Loewy related to automobiles and his broader career in design. Other special exhibits on view at the AACA Museum, Inc. include a rotating display area featuring a collection of Pontiac and Oakland vehicles.   This display will begin with the GTO model but will change at various points over the summer.    The Pontiac and Oakland display is being guest curated by the Keystone Region of the Pontiac Oakland Club International to be on view in our Williams-Clyne gallery.   All exhibits will run from May 18 – October 20, 2019.

Join us this summer for a remarkable journey on America’s Motorcycle!

About the AACA Museum, Inc.

The AACA Museum Inc., a Smithsonian Affiliate, displays beautifully restored automobiles, buses, and motorcycles in unique life-like scenes representing the 1890s – 1980s on a cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco. The AACA Museum, Inc. has been and remains an independent 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, not affiliated with The Antique Automobile Club of America.   As one of the largest automotive museums in the country, AACA Museum, Inc. features special exhibits that change several times a year and focus on a variety of eras and types of vehicles – automobiles, buses, trucks, motorcycles and more.

The AACA Museum, Inc. is home to the Cammack Tucker Collection; along with being the home of the Tucker Automobile Club of America. The Museum holds the World’s largest and most prestigious permanent collection of Tucker Automobiles and related artifacts. We’re proud to have been recently recognized by Road & Track and AutoClassics as one of the top automobile museums in the country. The Museum is in South Hanover Township, located just off Route 39, one mile west of Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Regular admission $12.50, seniors age 61 and older $11.50, juniors age 4-12 $9.50, children age 3 and under, AACA Museum, Inc. Members and AACA Members are FREE. The Museum is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The AACA Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For further information, please call 717-566-7100 or visit www.AACAMuseum.org.



Media Contact:

Nancy Gates

Director of Marketing & Communications

717-566-7100 ext. 123