California Automobile Museum Photos and Information
Are you a Sacramento native or a traveler just swinging by The City of Trees? If so, consider making a stop at the California Automobile Museum, especially if you love cars, history, and good times. The museum opened on May 1, 1987, as the Towe Ford Museum, though its history dates back much further. The museum now boasts multiple exhibits, some permanent and others rotating, and even offers classes and events.
See a complete California Automobile Museum photo gallery here.
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California Automobile Museum Hours and Admission
The California Automobile Museum is open from 10am to 5pm from Wednesday through Monday, with last admissions at 4pm. Every third Thursday of the month, the museum is open until 9pm, with last admissions at 8pm. The museum is closed on Tuesdays, as well as the following holidays: Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The museum closes at 3pm on the 4th of July, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
Cost of admission to the California Automobile Museum is as follows…
|Vintage (65 and over)||$8|
|Military (Active and Retired with ID)||$8|
|Youth (5 – 18)||$4|
Children 4 and under get in free. Parking at the museum is also free.
Specialty pricing days include…
- Free Museum Day, which is the first Saturday in February
- St. Patrick’s Day, on which you can get half-off admission from 1 – 4pm if you wear green
- Mother’s Day, on which the museum has a Tea and Talk
- Father’s Day, on which dads get in free
- Memorial Day & Veterans Day, on which active military and retired veterans get in free
- Collector Car Appreciation Day (July 10th), on which you get in free if you show up in a classic car
- Grandparents’ Day, on which grandparents get in free with a youth ticket purchase
- Halloween, on which you can wear a costume and get in half off
The California Automobile Museum is located on 2200 Front Street in Sacramento, California. Call (916) 442-6802 or email info@CalAutoMuseum.org to learn more.
Permanent Exhibits at the California Automobile Museum
As of press time, the California Automobile Museum boasts four permanent exhibits.
- Make a Move is an exhibit about the “innovations that created the automobile.”
- Cars of the Stars is an exhibit about “famous owners and famous vehicles.”
- Going Green is an exhibit about “alternative fuels and energy efficiency.”
- Car Club Cavalcade is an exhibit that has “local car clubs on display every month.”
There are currently more than 140 vehicles on display. Among the vehicles on display are the museum’s oldest, an 1880 Columbia “Penny Farthing” Bicycle, as well as a 1908 Ford Model T Touring Car, a 1925 Cadillac Coupe, a 1938 Buick Special 4DR Sedan, a 1947 Lincoln Continental Convertible, a 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird, a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle, a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302, a 1985 Ferrari 308 GTS, a 2001 Nissan Xterra FCV, and the museum’s youngest, a 2011 Nissan LEAF.
The current rotating exhibit as of press time is The Pickup Truck: Where Utility Meets the Everyday. The upcoming exhibit is Live Free: California Motorcycle Culture, which will be coming on September 24, 2016, and remaining through February 19, 2017.
California Automobile Museum History
The California Automobile Museum actually began as the Towe Ford Museum in 1987, because of the nature of its first exhibit. The idea for the museum came to life during a meeting in 1982, when a group of gearheads set out to build the first permanent auto museum in the west. After a year of hard work, the group established the California Vehicle Foundation, which adopted the slogan “On the Road to a Car Museum.”
Eventually, the foundation got its first donation: a 1938 Buick Special 4DR Sedan, which is still on display nearly 30 years later. The Buick was donated by president of the Golden One Credit Union, John Joyce. Things really started to heat up when Edward Towe of Montana reached out to the California Vehicle Foundation in 1985 about the world’s largest Ford collection, to see if the upcoming museum would be a good home for it. The foundation worked hard to find a location for the museum (a 72,000-square-foot warehouse) in Sacramento and got the collection from Montana to California in 1986. In September of 1987, the museum officially opened to the public as the Towe Ford Museum.
The 1990s offered up a bit of trouble for Towe and the museum by way of the IRS, and the Ford collection ended up going to auction. That could have spelled the end of the museum, but instead the museum began to display more vehicles of various makes and models. By 2009, the Board of Directors voted to change the name to the California Automobile Museum, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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