[PHOTOS] Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum Visitor Info & Review
To a gearhead, Buffalo isn’t just about chicken wings, snow storms, and the Goo Goo Dolls. The city has a history closely tied to the automotive industry, a relationship that has been commemorated in the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum. This testament to transportation of yesteryear houses many rare wonders and is a must-visit if you’re in western New York.
Address: 263 Michigan Ave, Buffalo, NY 14203
Directions: Depending on where you’re coming from, you can take I-190 (exit 6), or routes 354, 384, 266, or 5 to downtown Buffalo where the museum is at the intersection of Michigan Ave and Seneca St
Parking: Plenty of free on-site parking in the adjacent lot
Cost: Admission is $10 for adults (ages 16+), $5 for children ages 6-16, and free for those under 5 years old
Hours: Seasonal hours vary but are generally open Thursdays through Sundays 11am-4pm
Rules: No food or drink allowed; all bags must be checked at the front desk (apart from small purses); do not touch the items on display
Handicap Accessible: Those with physical disabilities are able to enter the museum through the main visitor’s entrance (no stairs), where a ramp leads down to and up from the main floor
You know you’re in the right area if you see a giant red wheel overlooking a parking lot. As you park your car in the lot adjacent to the entrance, you’ll notice a couple classic beauties parked along the sidewalk, like a pristine 1960 Chevrolet El Camino. Instead of entering through the large glass doors below the red wheel, look for a neon entrance sign pointing to a single metal door in a brick wall to your right. This is the public visitor’s entrance where you’ll enter the museum.
Upon entering, you will be greeted and pay your admission fee (cash or some credit cards) by one of the friendly attendants. If you have bags (purses are acceptable), you’ll be asked to leave them at the front desk. After a brief explanation of what lies ahead, you will be directed down the ramp to your right onto the main floor. Throughout your self-guided walk, feel free to ask the employees questions.
You can roam the museum freely (within unrestricted areas and without touching things), seeing the many different mechanical specimens. You’ll find collections of bicycles, classic cars (especially Pierce-Arrow models), gas pumps, hood ornaments, print advertisements, license plates, and much more. Restrooms are located in this area.
The museum is actually two rooms, one being the smaller brick room filled with those various items; the other room is an expansive area of glass walls that houses a one-of-a-kind gas station designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. There’s typically an employee stationed in front of it who will be glad to tell you the whole story behind the gas station’s design and creation. The venue can be rented for events, which is advertised by the decorated display tables in the lobby area.
On your way out, return back to the front desk from the opposite direction, up the other ramp. As you wander that direction, take time to see the memorabilia and gift merchandise for sale, including T-shirts, racks of vintage automobile magazines, out-of-print books, local knickknacks, and branded souvenirs.
Depending on your pace, the entire experience will last between 60-90 minutes.
While named after the Pierce Arrow company, the museum is a testament to all Buffalo-based transportation companies over the years, as well as a home for a number of classic vehicles from other brands over the past century. The collection is truly astonishing, as there are many custom or rare pieces you’ll only find here. In fact, some of the vehicles are still under private ownership and only lent to the museum for displaying.
What especially impressed me was the wide variety of items on display. From fashion and advertisement memorabilia to a cabinet of hood ornaments (I especially loved seeing these), and even one of the few remaining Playboy cars. The bicycle exhibit was recently added and shows the company’s progression throughout the development of modern transportation. There’s a Women’s Hall of Fame that honor the influence of women on automotive transportation, from industry leaders to fashion models. That’s one of the many ways this museum appeals to both genders. Every visitor will find something of interest here.
While there is some signage explaining the highlights of the museum, I and my companions would’ve appreciated more signage explaining the significance of some models. If you attend during a time when it’s offered, I would highly recommend taking a guided tour. It costs more, but you’ll be able to learn a lot more you couldn’t on a self-guided tour. Plus, the employees are very friendly.
There isn’t much here for kids to see, so I would recommend leaving them at home, especially since there isn’t much stopping them from walking up and touching everything. Also, those with allergies will have some problems with the dust that accumulates on the cars, so bring medicine.
Still, I highly recommend paying a visit. To plan your trip, head to the museum’s website.
- Aaron WidmarSenior Editor
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.