“Art-rageous Cars” at the California Automobile Museum
The California Automobile Museum, located at 2200 Front St., holds a monthly Third Thursday event, with activities for all family members.
On the third Thursday of every month, the museum keeps its doors open until 9 p.m. These events are free to California Automobile Museum members, and for nonmembers admission is half off from 5-7 p.m. Kids under five are admitted for free.
Children’s activities are provided inside the museum, helping make this a family-friendly event.
Live music by the High Strung band also provides entertainment inside the museum.
Exhibits at the museum are always changing. A current exhibit features the “Citroёn: L’icône français” (“Citroen: The French Icon”) that runs until July 29. The exhibit opened on May 26 and showcases several vehicles that are now everyday icons of French culture. Legendary Citroen vehicles include the Traction Avant, 2CV and DS models.
Another current exhibit is “No Job Too Big,” which showcases vehicles used on the job. Police cars, buses and other such vehicles will be on exhibit until Sept. 9. One working vehicle that was not part of the museum exhibit but did a great job was a roadside assistance AAA vehicle. I accidentally locked my keys inside my car and AAA was able to get into my vehicle to retrieve my keys.
“No Job Too Big” displayed various vehicles that keep our communities moving, such as taxis, hauling trucks, tow trucks and utility vehicles. The exhibit was put together to help visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the role these vehicles and their drivers play in our communities.
The mission of the California Automobile Museum is “to preserve, exhibit, and teach the story of the automobile and its influence on our lives.” Docents play a big part in helping to accomplish the museum’s mission, and they are very knowledgeable about almost every vehicle on display.
Docents at the event are very hospitable. The friendly docents I met were able to tell stories going back to the beginning of the museum.
For example, one of the docents told a story about the Towe Ford Museum, which was first conceived when a bunch of car enthusiasts got together for coffee and began talking about their vehicles. Edward Towe at the time had the largest collection of any one make of cars in the world. The Ford vehicles he owned proved to be the impetus for the Towe Ford Museum.
The current California Automobile Museum has gone through many changes and has come to a point where it is reaching out to the community through various new programs. One of their goals is to grow their educational program.
As part of Third Thursday, the museum’s theme for the event was “Art-rageous Cars.” The evening’s event was created as a family fun night at the museum. Hands-on activities for children were provided at a large table near the entrance.
Free guided tours also created a fun learning atmosphere for visitors,
Natalie Minas, a marketing specialist at the museum, talked about the event and exhibits on display. Minas indicated that the museum rotates exhibits throughout the year to attract visitors and tell the history of the automobile.
When asked about the privately owned vehicles in the parking area, Minas said, “The cruise in is held every third Thursday of the month. We open the museum doors until 9 where normally we close at 6 p.m. The idea is to get people in here who love cars. We want to have a family-oriented event with live music and have some type of food here so that people can have dinner at the museum and have a good time. We want to show the community that we’re here and our doors are open.”
Minas stated that their next exhibit will be called “1968.” Minas explained, “The ‘1968’ exhibit is going to tell the story of that year and we’re going to have a lot of cars from that time. It’s going to be something new for us and will be a lot bigger.”
The Third Thursday Cruise is new this year. Minas said, “The cruise is our inaugural for this year. My job here is to help coordinate these kinds of events and I wanted to bring in something fun for everyone. We’re thinking about doing themed car shows in the future, but for now I want to leave it open.”
When asked about the “Art-rageous Cars” theme Minas responded, “We want to boost our education department and that was the whole idea behind this. We wanted to get more parents and kids involved and understand more about what we do here. We want to reach out to that audience, to get them here and work together on projects with each other. The idea is to have them come in, have fun and leave with a souvenir.”
There are about 150 docents at the museum, noted Minas. “They go through a lengthy program and are all very dedicated. They love it here, they love the cars, are super enthusiastic, and they love giving tours they’re one of our biggest assets,” said Minas.
The California Automobile Museum’s next event will be held Aug. 4. Minas said, “The fourth annual CAM cruise will take place on Fulton Avenue. We’re expecting about 500 cars to participate in the cruise and at 4 o’clock they’re going to cruise from Sac State to Fulton and Marconi and will have a big car show there. It’s free for spectators and we’ll have live music, a beer garden, food trucks and huge car show. This will be a fun summer event.”
The museum offers an extensive selection of classes for both children and adults. School tours are also provided and are in line with the California curriculum standards and frameworks.
Visit the California Auto Museum to see a listing of vehicles on exhibit, view photos, read about current and past exhibits, and enjoy a full listing of future events. Membership, volunteer and donation information is also available on their website.