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Art of Curating Automotive Art: America’s Curators

0:00 hi guys i'm very excited to be speaking to you today uh my name is audrey i'm a 0:05 contributing automotive writer for the tundra um and i think we should just get right 0:11 into it so for anyone who's watching we're here with cynthia jones of the henry ford 0:16 museum of american innovation and marisol rios of the zimmerman 0:21 automobile driving museum so i just wanted to get started with introductions you guys can 0:28 start with a bit more about your professional background what led you to 0:33 the position you're in now and just day to day some of the stuff you're working on at your respective museums that would 0:40 be a great way to begin all right i'll jump in and get us 0:46 started here so i'm cynthia jones i'm director of museum experiences and 0:51 engagement my teams at the henry ford include the museum 0:57 as well as our partnership with ford motor company to produce the fortress factory tour tour of the f-150 1:04 truck plant i also lead our exhibitions team and do a number of special projects as well so 1:11 i would say that uh what got me here uh is 22 years with the organization at the 1:18 henry ford that started as a fun summer job and moved into just me going okay i 1:26 actually really love this and saying yes to opportunity after opportunity after opportunity 1:32 so it's been um an interesting journey it was not one i 1:38 would have predicted uh coming into the workforce or coming into this part of my career 1:46 yeah sometimes it is just a matter of saying yes repeatedly uh marisol 1:52 hi um i'm marisol herrera i'm the executive director at the el segundo i mean at the automobile driving museum 1:58 now called the zimmerman in el segundo california um we have a small team of about 10 2:04 people um originally started as just myself and my executive director and we 2:09 just exploded the way i got here i was actually a 2:15 very in love with museums so i started working at the california science center while i was in 2:21 high school and from there i started working at the natural history museum just because it was in the same location 2:27 when i started going to college i got gigs at the natural history museum in santa barbara do it being a naturalist 2:34 being more involved in the exhibits and i kind of fell into this rabbit hole of museums i fell in love with them 2:41 and wanted to pursue a career in museums i originally wanted to do something in environmental studies so it didn't work 2:48 out and when i got back here from college i just looked up a position on craigslist 2:53 and i found this one as a receptionist and i just moved my way up on the in the 2:59 ranks and i ended up being the executive director of this museum so i've been 3:04 using all of my museum skills to really push forward and get to the place i am 3:09 today that's great yeah that actually that leads me perfectly into what was going 3:15 to be my next question which is about the experience at an automotive museum 3:22 versus other institutions you mentioned the natural history museum art museums etc 3:28 uh how different is it at an automotive museum to build an experience or curate 3:34 an exhibit for guests than it is at an institution like that that people might view as more traditionally a museum 3:43 do you want me to go first sure yeah um so um being part of bigger museums like the 3:50 natural history museum there is more um order there is you know protocols that 3:55 we take when we're creating um exhibits i know there are a lot of professionals brought in so we can get the proper 4:03 information for these exhibits and we have the resources such as you know funding 4:09 the creativity all of that is kind of given what these larger museums our museum 4:15 on the other hand is a lot smaller you know as i said there's only 10 people we don't have the resources like other 4:21 museums and um we go based off of old literature that we have in our in our 4:26 library um to create these exhibits so we don't have a big budget and we have to you know 4:33 create creative ways of making this museum work i mean the exhibits work 4:39 and it's also it's very different here because we are a very interactive museum which is unheard of in terms of it it's 4:45 unheard of with other museums so people don't um know how to react when i tell them oh go ahead and sit in the car touch the 4:52 car you know enjoy how it should be enjoyed and they're just blown away because um you don't get that at normal museum 4:59 so that not only is that harder chat more challenging for us but 5:04 it's also a an opening for us to you know show the vehicles um 5:10 in a way that is very unique so marisol i love that you said that 5:16 you're scrappy and i would say that i would what i heard in that is that um you've taken a 5:23 very entrepreneurial approach to kind of figuring out uh the line of business and thinking about how it all 5:30 works and i also love that you emphasized how interactive you are with your collection 5:36 um i think that's something that at the henry ford we're obviously a huge institution 5:42 um our automotive is a big part of our collection but it's not the entirety of 5:48 our collection and you know but i would say the interactive element is is something that we have 5:56 we worked very hard to ensure also gets incorporated so similar to kind of art museums or 6:03 other museums we do put objects on display as simply looking at the object 6:09 and learning the story of the object appreciating it as an object but then we also lean very very hard 6:15 into the experience of something so vehicles are something we all engage 6:21 with in our daily life and i think um [Music] the more that you can allow or invite a 6:28 guest in to experience the vehicle that is part of what sets 6:34 both of our experiences apart both from some of the more traditional 6:39 parts of the automotive industry displays but also apart from other 6:46 types of museums and i think in our case i would say um 6:52 people when they when they talk about the henry ford is an automotive museum they probably tend to look at the 120 or 6:58 so cars i have on display in our automobile section i love to point to the fact that we have 7:04 the rosa parks bus and our invite to you for the getting is to get on board the 7:11 rosa parks bus and i think if the rosa parks bus was in the smithsonian 7:17 you would very much not get on board but the power of that object 7:24 was the act that took place in the object and it's around the stories that are related to that 7:33 yeah i i completely agree that it's much more powerful if you have the interactive elements and allow people to 7:41 experience an exhibition like that um and i know at the henry ford museum 7:47 you guys are not just a ford museum you make the distinction that you're the museum of 7:52 american innovation what uh what do you have on display that is really trying to drive that point home 7:59 that this is about a broader story beyond just cars sure absolutely um so 8:06 in the henry ford we're an independent nonprofit and we certainly have a number of the ford family on our board we have 8:13 a long history of interconnectedness with ford the motor company as well as 8:19 the family but henry ford when he started the museum and started 8:24 collecting he was immediately collecting other innovators vehicles 8:31 he was not just collecting his own creations so we have some incredibly early pieces 8:39 from ben's we have some incredibly early pieces from makers that aren't even in 8:45 existence anymore but also from folks like chrysler the dodge brothers 8:51 so really trying to tell the story of innovation over time 8:56 through our collection but also thinking about centering the 9:01 collection around the american experience people's use or adoption of 9:07 those inventions and innovations um and within our museum setting 9:13 um i would say that our mobility side of the museum is about 50 9:18 of the museum so automobiles an increa incredible motorsports exhibition area driven to 9:25 win that we opened this time last year also a flight exhibition also trains 9:32 and then the other half of the museum is much more other items around american innovation 9:40 so whether that's our with liberty and justice with the rosa parks bus george washington's camp bed the lincoln 9:46 chair we have presidential vehicles but also how we lived um so things about 9:53 the house things about um all sorts of arrays of kind of american 9:59 innovation over the past 300 years wow yeah that is really 10:04 the full experience um marisol i'm curious if at the zipperman 10:10 first of all how was the collection there acquired and if there are broader stories that you guys are looking to 10:17 tell with it as well oh definitely um so the exhibit the museum was created by stanley zimmerman 10:23 and earl rubinstein they were great friends um since the 60s and they well stanley and earl 10:31 had a deep fascination over packards and they started collecting together and they rented out a big warehouse in west 10:38 los angeles um and started just collecting a bunch of packards and they decided they wanted to 10:45 you know show these show these show their collections to uh guests and they created a smaller museum 10:52 complete with the 50s themed ice cream parlor like we have today in our current location 10:57 and they would take folks out on rides in their packards on sundays and people were really experiencing that hands-on 11:04 experience that he was trying to portray with the vehicles and eventually his collection just grew 11:10 so much that he decided to look for another building and which is where we are today it's in el segundo and he 11:16 chose it because of um its historical significance this building belonged to 11:21 howard hughes before and um he just really loved you know air and 11:27 land transportation just colliding and becoming one um we also owned a couple of we owned one of howard hughes's 11:34 vehicles so he really liked to plan on how everything's just kind of connected 11:39 but our museum does focus mostly on um like um the henry ford museum on 11:45 american innovation and how transportation and all of these american vehicles played a big role in american 11:52 history um so for example right now we actually have a henry ford exhibit going on um 11:58 that talks about the the you know the inception of henry ford and all of his model t's 12:03 um and then going on into edsel ford and then how he created lincoln and all 12:09 those things as well so we usually acquire a lot of these vehicles by donations 12:14 um or somebody who just has a really nice edsel wants to put their you know put their car on display that's usually 12:20 we loan it in and people get a lot you know get very excited to have a vehicle on display in 12:26 a in a museum yeah sure i mean these collections can be acquired in a 12:32 number of ways left basically through the generosity of collectors yeah 12:39 sometimes are sorry oh no yeah no stanley was he passed away a couple of 12:44 years ago but he during his last couple of years did really uh push on purchasing his last 12:50 final vehicle so we did get like 10 more vehicles the last year he was alive and 12:56 that was another way how he acquired a lot of the cars he would go to hershey pennsylvania and just 13:01 pick which ones he wanted and send them over to the museum yeah well i mean clearly you guys are 13:08 dealing with people who are very passionate about automobiles particularly 13:14 you know you said you guys are in el segundo southern california is car country all the way 13:20 uh ford has so many passionate fans of cars like the deuce um 13:26 how do you guys make sure that you're catering to the really hardcore car audience versus 13:32 people who might be a little harder to draw in you know so i would i would use one of 13:38 the examples in our collection so we have mustang number one 13:43 and that is obviously for many people that is a pilgrimage vehicle right so 13:49 um ensuring that we have enough information out there so that the folks 13:55 who already feel that they know the complete story or know every detail 14:00 discover something more um but also interpreting an object like 14:06 that um so that if you just walk up to it and go oh what is this i think i recognize 14:11 this this looks like a mustang i think i know mustang um that you also are attracted and 14:17 invited um i would also say that with the passionate fans or the collectors um 14:24 we also use moments and i know that marisol does this as well where um we do some very very long-standing uh 14:32 shows of our collection and invite in others and we have a motor muster weekend around father's day where we 14:38 have 600 plus vehicles come on site for display and we also do the old car festival in 14:44 september that one's been around for i want to say somewhere around 70 or so 14:49 years and so those are opportunities where the best of the best of their class can 14:57 be seen where folks who are just deep into this world share information 15:05 with each other but we're trying to also unlock that passion for the next generation right so 15:12 we partnered with hagerty last year and they're now the presenting sponsor of our car shows and 15:19 one of the things that they came to us with was can we have youth judging can we invite kids 15:25 to be judges at your car shows i'm like absolutely that's brilliant of course 15:32 um and so bringing together the folks that are super passionate about it and 15:37 maybe a kid who is kinda into cars but maybe they care more about the color of 15:44 the car than the engine of the car and helping bridge that gap i feel is 15:50 something that we're able to do and kind of bridge the gap between various levels 15:55 of interest yeah having been to cruisins where there 16:00 was a youth judging award i can definitely attest that it's fascinating to see what they choose versus what the 16:07 adults choose it's often very different but you find yourself stepping back like hey you know 16:12 you have a good point i like that one too 16:17 um do you guys ever find yourself you know in a position 16:23 where you're facing obstacles or pushback when it comes to stuff like that though like 16:28 you know a lot of car museums have boards of directors who are very stuck in their ways might not want to cater to 16:36 diverse audiences might not want to bring new types of people in is that something that you've 16:43 ever had to grapple with i've dealt with a little bit of that 16:49 you know i am a younger uh younger person and i try to bring the younger generation here because it is an 16:55 issue there is um you know the art the passion is is fading so um 17:01 we try to incorporate events that are you know a little bit more interesting for the 17:07 younger generation so we'll we'll bring cars that are nostalgic to them you know cars that they've seen in the 80s and 90s and they'll laugh because they come 17:14 in and they say why is there why is there an astro van in here we're like oh that's the reason why the you know the 17:19 station wagon died and then they then they start like the gear start turning and then they find out that we have you 17:25 know classes for high school students and they bring them in um and they start to learn 17:30 but going back to the board members um i have had a couple of pushbacks for a couple of events 17:36 um where they said no it's two rock and roll or no it's too um you know 17:41 too wild because you're bringing up live band and you're gonna have motorcycles and we're not a motorcycle museum but i 17:47 said but it's transportation and that's what everybody loves right now we hosted the show and we had a huge 17:54 success um and slowly but surely i've been trying to convince them you know let me take the reins and 18:00 and go out and try to get the younger generation in here and they're starting to to uh to let me do that 18:07 basically i would say that internally i have not 18:13 faced much of that um we are you know with innovation in the title of the 18:18 museum we are very uh both looking backwards but also looking forward 18:24 um so when you are able to key in on that share your passion ensure that the 18:30 next generation has that passion they've given me a little flexibility 18:35 and how to do that um i would actually say that more of my 18:40 um i would politely call it surprise for our guests 18:46 but also that what is that doing here 18:51 um we continue to collect up to the present day and so we're very very 18:56 actively collecting and our fourth quarter show last year inside the museum was 19:02 about the last 10 years of our collecting in the mobility space and it included putting out a 19:09 self-driving test vehicle and that was one year off of being used 19:16 and so some of the pushback i'll hear from my longer term members or from 19:21 guests is well that's not historic you know that's not that shouldn't be on display next to 19:28 this amazingly beautiful 1930s vehicle um and i think that for me i'm able to 19:34 lean into it is really about how quickly the mobility space is changing 19:42 and the ability to help people connect to that so if you see a self-driving vehicle or you see 19:48 a very present day electric vehicle and if i'm able to then display it near 19:56 something that is historic so if i'm able to put it next to a 1913 detroit electric with a current day lightning 20:03 f-150 prototype then you're able to really ask interesting questions 20:10 um and so i think that there's more that [Music] 20:15 helping the guests bridge their expectation of what they think it means to go to a car collection 20:23 and what they're experiencing that moment 20:28 yeah i love that example of the detroit electric and the ford f-150 lightning because 20:34 it is surprising how many people uh aren't even aware that there were 20:40 electric cars back in that time period um and i know cynthia in some of our 20:45 conversations before this panel you mentioned that sustainability was 20:50 particularly of interest to you so i if you wanted to talk any more about those efforts at the rouge plan 20:58 yeah absolutely and yeah it's something i loved when i was reading about marisol's background and hearing you 21:04 today about having started in a natural history setting um 21:09 you know i i was very blessed that when i started 21:14 part of my career journey it was when the rouge was being 21:20 completely revitalized and so bill ford had come into this vision 21:25 of a plant that was 85 90 years old and 21:31 had been a place with a lot of pollution had been a place that you know we had our own steel mill we had all of the 21:37 things there on site and bill ford had this very green vision about the traditional way to handle a 21:46 production facility like that is frankly to walk away from it and move on to the next thing 21:52 which is not a green vision and so he had said that based on the cultural history in that site you know it was the 22:00 home of the mustang it was the home of so many iconic vehicles um 22:05 that he was not going to let his company walk away and instead he was going to revitalize 22:11 this into an example of sustainable engineering and sustainable manufacturing 22:17 so when we opened the rouge tours in 2004 the vast majority of our guests were 22:23 coming to see trucks made and then we would take them and show them the world's largest living roof on 22:30 top of that truck plant and they would look at us like well yeah okay fine why 22:36 and it was fascinating because about eight or ten years later 22:41 guests would say to us okay so what are you doing now what's happening next and it was fascinating how bill's vision 22:49 of what was possible with manufacturing environments had over a very short period of time 22:57 actually become part of what so many guests expect you to be doing to be 23:02 doing things more sustainably to be thinking about sustainability in the site to be thinking about 23:08 your impact and then answering from a 23:14 your organization's care for the community what are you doing now and so to kind of see that transition 23:21 over time has been fascinating i predict that we're going to see that 23:27 very quickly with some of our classics in our collection where people are going to start asking things like 23:34 well is running that model t yeah how much is that polluting is that the 23:40 right thing to do um and for us part of the answer is it is 23:45 because we think you really should and deserve to have the experience of the vehicle they are living breathing things 23:52 it is also a challenge for us you know do we get more of the 1913 detroit electrics up and running so you can ride 24:00 in an electric but then how do i talk to you about the battery technology so you know there's i think there's real 24:07 challenges there i think the culture is moved in ways that are going to challenge us as an industry as well 24:14 yeah absolutely i mean it's moved so much just in the last five years um marisol you mentioned 24:22 doing programs with kids showing them around the museum is that something that comes up a lot 24:27 uh like being curious about the future of the industry um yeah it does come up a lot um we you 24:34 know we partnered with the da vinci high school here in el segundo as well um because we've noticed that shop classes 24:41 were becoming non-existent um you know especially in high school classes there's no shop class there's no wood 24:47 making class there's no hands-on you know trade classes that are going on to get uh these these students um 24:54 interested so we collaborated with da vinci high school who's like a college preparedness 24:59 high school which is amazing and we created this class where they come after school to the museum go to our shop we 25:06 have a working shop and they basically learn how to maintain a vehicle vintage and a newer model 25:13 so that that program became so um prominent in 25:18 in my like list of programs that a lot of students were asking me you know hey i i'm kind of curious i want to start 25:24 doing this and i would say i'm sorry it's close to the da vinci students um and this last year i got one of the 25:32 one an old student from da vinci now a staff member here at the museum 25:37 he said hey you know what let's make this open to all students and let's make it in the summer let's make it a camp 25:44 um and we've been brainstorming it it's um we just barely announced it this last 25:50 week and a lot of students are very interested in coming here during the summer to learn about about maintaining 25:56 vehicles um so that's turned into its own monster and we've also created we're also in the 26:02 works of creating a youth show i know you mentioned you know making a youth judging panel and i thought that was 26:07 such a great idea i think it'd be really nice to have maybe some of the da vinci students do that 26:12 um but basically they use show is for anybody 30 years and younger who has a vintage vehicle or working you know 26:18 project to just show off their car and and maybe network and meet other other younger 26:25 folks who would want to maintain and learn together so it has become it's 26:32 a very good program here at the museum okay i am totally gonna track back with 26:38 you this summer and ask like okay so how's that going yeah what can i learn from that hands-on experience can i just 26:45 totally rip off your model and do the same thing that is brilliant 26:51 that's what that's what my goal is i want all museums to do something like this just because it is i mean i never 26:56 learned how to how to work on a vehicle and because i'm a girl you know it wasn't seen as 27:02 a thing for ladies to do you know it was we i did ceramics i loved it but that 27:07 would have been cool to learn how to work on a car 27:13 you know it gets to the workforce need that we're all gonna have like yes i'm sure you have the same need i need 27:19 people who can repair and restore these working vehicles 27:24 yes and that skill set is quickly going away and so how do you 27:30 meet people and kind of fulfill our own need that's awesome 27:37 yeah it is kind of this intersection of you have the practical need and then 27:42 there's also just the added benefit of being able to bring all these people in um but i think one of the things that i 27:50 hear often with programs like auto shop 27:55 car shows etc is that the audience is 28:00 self-selecting in a way like if you're trying to bring in women for example 28:06 what do you do if no women sign up for the class or if no women have a car that 28:11 they want to bring is that a challenge for you guys in terms of bringing in a female audience a 28:18 diverse audience to your programming when i first started it was a challenge 28:25 i started here in 2016 my old executive director she 28:30 um she noticed it from the get-go that there weren't very many women coming to the shows or to you know my classes or 28:37 the programs or panel discussions so we decided to switch gears and invite an all-female 28:46 panel to the museum so we had shirley muldowney lynn st james jesse combs 28:53 and other gals from the southern california region and we had a panel discussion with them 28:59 and most most guys most it was mostly men that showed up which was funny 29:04 but afterwards we got a lot of women coming out of the woodwork and said i saw what you did you know i was too shy 29:09 to go because i didn't want to feel you know uncomfortable or because it's like a male dominated 29:15 look male dominated industry and so that got us our you know our 29:21 gears working and we decided to make an all-female ladies class called a car care class it's called 29:27 ladies car care i have 101 to 401 and it's hosted by a female teacher 29:34 and she'll take everything step by step and show you how to maintain a vehicle 29:40 and it she'll show you on an older vehicle and a newer vehicle so we've we've come to realize that 29:46 women tend to to come to these events when it's led by women 29:52 because there's a sense of comfort knowing you know we're from the same same background we have the same 29:57 experiences it's not a mild i mean it's not a female 30:02 dominated industry and we we're definitely trying to change that with all those classes 30:10 you know i would echo that approach like that you put women to the forefront which invites other women 30:17 um and i i've always found that very interesting i've found a real dichotomy um 30:23 so with the tours of the f-150 truck plant some of the earliest work we did 30:30 thinking about setting up that tour was asked the question who drives the purchasing decision of an 30:37 f-150 who's your target market who drives the purchase 30:42 and tell me about your gender metrics on that and it's 30:48 very interesting that women almost always drive the purchasing power of 30:54 their household and so if you're gonna go invest seventy thousand dollars in a top-end amazing vehicle 31:02 mom better want that vehicle and so thinking about that power that 31:09 exists within the industry and then also thinking especially when i 31:14 was really starting up the tours 20 years ago female faces were not at the top of the 31:21 engineering they weren't super visible in the making of the vehicle the designing of the 31:27 vehicle they were there but you had to look um and so i purposely looked and said who 31:34 are we featuring today that's much much much easier right 31:39 but it was not so easy 20 years ago but it was very purposeful on our part 31:44 to make sure those faces were visible and also take it back in time as we always do right so um we said you know 31:52 rosie the riveters the arsenal of democracy right like this has real power in resonance 31:58 um let's tell those stories and then let's carry that story forward into today 32:05 um we've had some amazing programs where um the actual rosies who are 32:12 aging quite quickly now um come in and they have been absolute rock stars when we're able 32:19 to feature them and you watch little girls walk up to them and say 32:24 were you rosie were you like on the poster when you sign my autograph will you 32:30 and just um having multiple generations of women recognize 32:36 the power of women has been something that we've really worked hard at we've also done a lot of 32:43 programs with the girl scouts and really thinking about scouting and how scouts bring that audience in 32:51 and what that can look like and do wow yeah i mean 32:56 i think you just answered my next question cynthia which is you know kind of finding ways to combat 33:04 this logical fallacy that so many people have of 33:09 uh you know we can't feature female stories in the automotive industry because they're just not there you know 33:15 we would love to if there were only more of them but it is just a matter of 33:22 laying everything out from past to presence and saying no there really is a through line here that we can follow 33:29 yeah and you know and that's absolutely true with women's stories the same can be said um i think since george floyd 33:36 and a lot of the racial reckoning that this country has been doing is also telling the stories that were 33:42 untold in that area um and i think it is truly just 33:48 you know i don't accept the oh we can't tell this story it's not there that means you haven't looked hard enough 33:54 that means you haven't asked the right person so let me turn to my network of people that i can ask who might put me 34:01 in touch with the person that you can ask might put me in touch right so digging until you find 34:07 um and then shining the light there and i think you know whether it's lin st james or whether it's you know 34:14 right now i'm working with beth paretta like thinking about um women who've been trailblazers 34:22 almost every woman i've ever worked with who's been at the top of the game in this area 34:29 if you ask them who else should i know they will automatically and generously 34:34 connect you to that person and it is an amazing network and i think 34:40 once you can tap into the power of the network then all those stories surface 34:48 and you can really tell a rich history yeah absolutely um 34:55 and you know obviously as women in what is traditionally seen 35:00 as a male-dominated field you guys have a unique perspective on that 35:05 have there been times when it felt challenging when it felt like you were 35:10 not being taken seriously and how did you deal with that or you know it could be that it's not been an issue the 35:17 entire time but i am curious to hear 35:22 i have it's it's odd because i feel like 35:27 you know i have an all-male board i have all most of my docents are males um you 35:33 know i probably have three females and then my staff is mostly female because 35:38 um no it's just i have mostly female staff and at the in the beginning it did feel like 35:45 whenever i came up with suggestions or um or a program it was not taken 35:51 seriously um but it could have also been because i was younger and didn't have the experience you know this was my 35:57 first director position um but i had the fire you know i wanted 36:03 to have these events i wanted women to feel more included um i you know i started off by creating you 36:10 know smaller programs and inviting a smaller group of women to the museum 36:16 and seeing how they would react to that um i was mostly doing ask for forgiveness 36:23 instead of permission with those programs but i'm happy i did them because at this 36:28 point it's turned into you know people know the museum for being a very inclusive location 36:34 they know about my ladies car care they know about my female restoration program and my my show the women in wheel show that i 36:41 host once a year um and i mean it it did feel like 36:47 i wasn't being taken seriously and now these last two years people are really noticing the impact that i'm making in the 36:53 automotive industry yeah i 36:58 you know i can certainly reflect and say yes to all of those things that you just said whether it's 37:03 [Music] whether it's aged um you know i'm at a i'm in an interesting career uh phase 37:11 now where i've i have a director title where i've been in the industry a while 37:19 there's certainly power that comes with that i think when i was fresh in and i was much younger 37:26 and definitely had the fire and the passion 37:31 i also did a lot of that do it and ask for forgiveness if it fails but also use it when it succeeds 37:39 as the example of here's what happens when we push [Music] 37:46 i will say that [Music] i think i found it more in the early 37:51 years i think the last few years has shifted a lot um 37:57 [Music] but i do wonder about that like is that 38:02 just on the surface is it just performative that you're making sure that your 38:07 conference isn't all males on your panels or is this deeper change 38:14 um so i do wonder about that and how we will hold people 38:20 to that over time to make sure that it is a true culture shift that it is a 38:26 true um making a bigger stage and inviting more people that it truly is inclusion 38:35 and moving into equity right like so i am i do worry about that 38:42 um i will also say that i have very purposefully 38:48 made sure that at times when i was the only female 38:53 voice at the table i had to take a lot of behind the scenes work to make allies with all the men at 38:59 the table and then when other women started to be at the table make allies with them 39:06 and really apply some of the things right so there's a lot of science around when it's a meeting it's a mixed gender 39:12 meeting men will think that women have dominated the conversation if they speak 30 of the 39:19 time and that oftentimes you won't hear a woman's idea until a man says the exact 39:26 same idea and so once more women started being at the table one of the things that i would 39:32 sit down over coffee and say is so here's some of the science of that i'm sure you've experienced it i've experienced it so i will do this for you 39:40 every single time you make a great point at a meeting i'm gonna reinforce that you made that great point 39:47 let's just make that a working agreement between us that that's what we're gonna do um and it was really interesting to 39:55 watch the shift when you're doing some very smart tactical things like that to 40:00 help other women's voices get heard and they're helping you get heard 40:06 yeah yeah i mean i would echo so many of the 40:12 things that you said there um i i definitely agree that there is this 40:18 tension right between wondering if you're at the table because you were 100 put 40:25 there by people who believe in you or because it's just a performative thing 40:30 and given that that can be such an uphill battle making sure that it's not 40:36 uh one of the big overarching questions that i wanted to ask you both is what 40:41 motivates you you know have there been moments with a particular exhibition or 40:46 a particular program where you really connected with someone or really felt like you were making a difference 40:53 bringing in more women or whoever your target audience might be 40:58 i i would say um for it was my women in wheels show 41:03 i just had it this past weekend um i always get so nervous with it because you know i feel like i'm on 41:10 i'm on i'm in the limelight and everybody's looking at me because it's by women for women um and we you know 41:16 this last show we had over 150 vehicles we have over a thousand spectators i try 41:22 to make it all female led so a female band female dj female panel female 41:28 judges um and female vintage vendors so that one is one of my favorite shows 41:36 it motivates me so to no end like i was working probably 12 hour shifts every 41:41 day getting this this show ready um towards the towards the end of it and um 41:47 it's one of my favorite shows because i get to meet so many women in the area that i have never met before and all of 41:53 them have amazing beautiful cars or have the individual stories of why they chose to you know to drive this vehicle or to 42:00 you know um or to restore this vehicle it usually leads a lot it usually has a lot to do 42:06 with emotion um which i'm all here for because i i get very emotionally attached to a lot 42:12 of things as well so it's very it's very nice hearing other women say you know this was my grandfather's impala i 42:18 restored it and now i'm driving it in his memory um or you know i had my first kiss here or i had you 42:25 know things like that um but it does get very um you know i do 42:30 have my hard harder days um especially during covid you know since we are in a smaller museum 42:36 we didn't get a lot of funding we don't get a lot of funding and we were on the brink of closing down and that that was 42:43 my closest like lowest point of being so unmotivated and so sad and i 42:49 really you know i i really stuck to my guns and i wanted the museum to keep going and to 42:54 to keep stanley's legacy alive so um you know i worked extra hours just to make 43:00 sure i get those grants in and all of that hard work you know worked very well because now i'm still having my my 43:06 favorite show and it was a huge success so um yeah never give up 43:15 yeah so it was very interesting as you were telling the stories i was like oh that that 43:23 and i think it was um i reflect back to 2008 in detroit 43:30 then across the country we were facing we were facing a very serious recession 43:38 and um late in 2008 and then going into 2009 um 43:44 i was directly running the factory tour experience the f-150 tours and the truck plant shut down 43:51 you know ford couldn't afford to be producing trucks for a number of months and they shut down 43:58 and um ford came to us and said so you're going to shut down right and i said no 44:03 100 i'm not shutting down um they looked at me like i was insane 44:09 and i said here's why just as bill ford and every leader of the car companies are going to go 44:15 testify in front of congress about why the auto industry matters to our country and why it deserves funding and a 44:21 bailout and help i need to tell that story to every single 44:28 guest who's coming to detroit this summer and i need to be able to stand for the 44:34 power of this culture in this region and it was very interesting because over 44:40 that summer i took tours of people especially a tremendous amount of people from 44:46 congress into a pretty dark not moving factory 44:52 with trucks just stopped on the line from the day that the workforce had been 44:57 sent home and the emotional power 45:03 of seeing a million square foot building that normally would have a thousand people working on that floor 45:10 stopped and then me saying oh and i would love to send you to this local restaurant for 45:16 lunch but i can't because they had to shut down because the workforce can't afford to buy their food there right now 45:23 and i would love to send you here but i can't because it shut down the emotional engagement around the 45:30 reality of that experience and the impact that it had 45:36 that kept me going through the hardest days i mean i literally had a box under my desk ready to be laid off and sent 45:43 home while giving these tours and so when covid came across it was 45:49 very similar right like okay what we do matters because what we do 45:55 impacts lots of people and it is also almost a sacred 46:00 responsibility to tell the stories through objects but tell the 46:07 stories of people's lives and the way that we have lived with these objects the impact it has on our culture 46:14 and then the impact that it can have very future thinking right so my positive is 46:20 every single time i go in the museum and there's a school kid in there and school kid 46:26 when she says wow that's a cool car i wonder who designed that or that's a 46:32 really interesting system how did you make that i go okay that's the next generation so that's the bright side but 46:39 i think it's also because the emotional connectivity and the deep 46:46 that it matters yeah i mean i so appreciate you guys sharing 46:51 those stories of the pandemic and the recession in 2008 i think that's a 46:57 really interesting connection to make and you do ultimately have to keep it going for the 47:03 next generation so i really applaud both of you for doing that um 47:09 as we start to wrap up here um considering all of 47:14 the stories that you've shared so far i want to look ahead to what's next for 47:20 both of you and give you both the opportunity to plug anything and everything that your 47:26 museums have coming up that our viewers might be interested in checking out 47:33 so i have um i have a calendar of car shows that i do um every year i have 47:38 about 12 to 15 car shows um and they all have a different theme so 47:44 my next show that that's coming up is a volkswagen show air cooled volkswagens so if you have one or want to come 47:50 spectate we have that but just follow our website um we have an event page 47:55 that is filled with activities to do and if you are a high school student a female or just anybody interested in 48:02 coming and learning about vehicles and how to maintain them we're currently going to be opening our classes um 48:08 within this week uh to you know to register to those classes if you are interested in learning more um and other 48:14 than that we're you know having a summer concert series to help with fundraising at the museum 48:21 um and we're looking at acquiring more vehicles and getting bigger than better than ever 48:28 that's awesome i you know so i would say that um we are back 48:35 we've been back open since we closed for about four months and then figured out how we were going to reopen 48:41 in this pandemic and we are a hundred percent back um not cars but thinking about mobility 48:46 in the broadest sense i opened um an apollo exhibition uh this past month and 48:53 you know the numbers in the museum it's amazing people are hungry to get out they're hungry to engage they're hungry 49:00 to be in spaces again and really active so there's a lot going on for us 49:06 i think this year we're certainly in our car shows we're celebrating 100 years of lincoln so really going to be featuring some 49:12 amazingly gorgeous vehicles but also just 49:18 really thinking about the opportunity for families to be out and about and engaging with each other 49:25 so there's always something going on and i think the thing that i would push is actually the thing we probably don't 49:31 want to be thinking about which is the virtual experience right so we're having this conversation virtually which 49:38 i absolutely love because we're you know spread out a couple thousand miles apart from each 49:43 other and able to really connect we are continuing to strongly invest in 49:48 that content we launched something called inhub over the course of the pandemic shutdown 49:56 which really brings together just an amazing suite of opportunities for people to learn 50:02 um through all of our virtual resources and we're continuing to build out those 50:08 working on virtual field trips working on all sorts of ways so that our museum 50:13 while you know situated right in the heart of the detroit region can reach people across the country and that is i 50:21 think the thing that's very exciting for me is to play with bringing people back on 50:26 site and still serving in a virtual capacity 50:32 that's awesome yeah it's it's amazing how the pandemic shut everyone down and then opened us up to all these new 50:40 opportunities um well that is 50:45 i think everything i wanted to ask you guys uh this has been a fascinating conversation for me i'm so 50:53 glad that we got the chance like you said across multiple time zones across 50:58 the country yeah that was awesome and i just i would echo thank you um it was it was really 51:04 wonderful to be invited to join you all and marisol i'm not kidding i am totally gonna like connect with you 51:11 i mentioned uh i mentioned you in this panel to our automotive 51:16 curator um matt anderson and he immediately looked up whether you had gone to some of the 51:23 uh historic car collections meetings that he'd been at and he said i don't see her and i said 51:29 hey she's in our network now i'm just very happy that you know we're doing these things again i i felt like there 51:35 was a this wave of silence for two years and it's it's so nice seeing um 51:41 meeting all of these new executive directors as well you know not like you're new but um that there's you know 51:46 at the lemay museum we have a female director there there's another female director i just met a couple weeks ago 51:52 oh lana from the alliance museum just around the corner here um i met cynthia and i'm it's just really 51:59 nice finding other female directors just because i feel like i felt for a while 52:04 that i was alone in this thank you thank you seriously 52:32 you

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. The LA Automobile Driving Museum. Both cultural institutions leading preservation of cars as artifacts & providing hands-on experiences for new gens to explore auto’s industrial legacy. Join The Henry Ford’s Cynthia Jones & LA Automobile Museum’s Marisol Herrera for a look at how it's done.


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