Changes Effective January 1, 2020
Hershey, PA – At the November 23rd meeting of the AACA Museum’s Board of Directors, an agreement was signed to merge the Museum of Bus Transportation (MOBT) into the AACA Museum, Inc. brings to a conclusion the process that began approximately six months ago. The MOBT will cease to exist as a separate entity as of January 1, 2020, with its work and mission perpetuated within the structure of the AACA Museum, Inc.
“The MOBT came to us earlier this year with the idea to merge their organization into the AACA Museum, Inc. Both sides did their due diligence and concluded that we could make it work. We are pleased to welcome the members of the Museum of Bus Transportation to the AACA Museum and look forward to a productive future furthering our shared mission,” states AACA Museum President, Hank Hallowell.
MOBT President, John Oakman, who lead his organization through this process, declared: “we’re proud of our association with the Museum, which is a nationally respected institution as well as a Smithsonian Affiliate. We are thrilled that they want us to join them.” Oakman added: “the Museum’s logo has long had buses on it and they’ve come to value the people that our collection and exhibitions attract.”
Founded in 1994, the MOBT has a long involvement with the AACA Museum. During the capital campaign to construct the building, the MOBT provided important support by paying in $500,000 for a multi-year, paid-up lease. That payment helped to assure that the Museum would be built and opened to the public in 2003, and it provided the MOBT with space to display their collection of historic buses in the lower-level gallery.
The MOBT currently has a fleet of 40 historic buses ranging from a 1908 White to a 2009 battery-powered Proterra. Approximately a dozen are displayed at the Museum in Hershey while the rest are stored in a MOBT-owned annex building adjacent to Hershey. The Museum’s Executive Director, Jeffrey Bliemeister, who was with the Museum when it opened, is one of those who have come to recognize the value the MOBT adds to this top-rated Hershey attraction. “Casual visitors are surprised and sometimes shocked when they discover full-size buses in the Museum. Buses are relatable, just like cars. Most people have bus stories and personal experiences. Even those who don’t can appreciate the “Forest Gump” and “Speed” movie buses.”
Several factors that drove this merger. “Not having a permanent home has severely impacted our ability to raise money, particularly within the bus industry.” Oakman also added that “the Museum has proven itself capable in so many different ways that we gain much-needed additional capacity by being part of their organization.” While the MOBT will cease to exist as an independent organization, many things will remain the same. The Bus Museum’s membership, who voted overwhelmingly to merge, will all become members of the AACA Museum. Their membership and contributions will continue to support bus-related activities. Rather than having a Board of Directors, the Bus Museum will be structured as a Committee of the AACA Museum. As one of their last acts, the MOBT’s Board selected bus industry veterans John Oakman, David Schmidt, and Randy Wilcox to head this body. The Committee will have a voting seat on the Museum’s Board, which will be filled initially by Oakman. Most of the MOBT’s existing committees will continue to function in carrying out their bus-related missions centered on events, programs, education, and fundraising. The plan is to combine and leverage our collective resources to further both bus-related functions and general AACA Museum activities going forward.
Oakman pointed out that the MOBT has a talented group of volunteers who have done a great job preserving bus history. “We hope to keep them, and with the added stability afforded by joining with the AACA Museum, represent the bus industry on a national stage, educating the public about its remarkable contribution. While the Hershey area is extremely popular, we are hoping that charter and tour operators will make us a favorite destination.”
The MOBT joins the Tucker Automobile Club of America (TACA) who merged with the Museum two years ago and whose members are now part of the AACA Museum. AACA Museum President, Hank Hallowell, who presided over both mergers, is hopeful that this change will bring stability and growth for all involved. “The MOBT was critical to the opening of the AACA Museum, and we appreciate their partnership. We are happy anytime we can strengthen our position and increase our ability to fulfill our mission of educating and entertaining the public relative to transportation history. The MOBT is a good fit in all of these areas, and we are pleased to have them as part of our Museum Family.”