Lately I have been doing a fair bit of traveling, which is my primary reason (excuse?) for my infrequent posting habits of late. Besides my aforementioned roadtrip, I just returned from a jaunt to San Francisco for a job interview. I am back in familiar waters, for now, and will resume a more normal, and frequent posting schedule.
To begin that schedule, I'd like to review a few museums I have visited lately. Today I'd like to focus on the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN. The museum was opened in 2003 based on a donation of 70 vehicle by car enthusiast Jeff Lane and his wife Susan. Since then, the collection has grown to 300 cars, about 150 of which are displayed at any given time in the facility. The building itself is the former home of the Sunbeam Bakery and features large windows that provide lots of natural light. A detailed history on the museum can be found here.
To be honest, I felt the museums was one of the hidden gems that is not mentioned often enough when people list the top auto museums in the country. The collection itself can best be described as 'eclectic' since all the vehicles featured are extraordinarily unique. You won't find many grand classics at this museum (save for a few Panhards and a Lancia Lambda), but you will find a number of cars that, as the Lane's promise, will put a smile on your face. The spotlight is placed on European cars, specifically ones that represent the outlandish and unusual sides of the automobile's development. Three wheelers, rear engined cars, dual-engined cars, propeller powered vehicles, and many other oddities inhabit the cavernous, 40,000 square foot open space. A number of the vehicles are very rare or one of a kind. Some marques are more represented than others, such as Tatra and Citroen, both known for building cars that didn't exactly follow the rules.
Besides the fantastic selection of interesting cars (all of which can be bragged about for being strange, but few for being very expensive), the presentation is top notch. Unlike many car museums that are in poorly lit rooms with the cars roped off so that you really can't see or photograph them all that well, the Lane Motor Museum wants you to really get a great look at the cars. All but a handful of the cars are parked in rows devoid of ropes and barriers, giving you the opportunity to look all around and inside the vehicles (just don't touch them, a reasonable request indeed). This not only gives people a wonderful opportunity to see the cars as multifaceted pieces of machinery, but also to marvel at the design elements that show through in every part of the vehicle. Plus, as an aside, it shows enormous trust on the part of the Lane's that their vehicles will be respected by the visitors of the museum and it certainly made me feel more welcome and at home (I guess it was a little Southern Hospitality).
Overall, I'd place the Lane Motor Museum in the Highly Recommended category, up there with great museums like the Nethercutt and National Automobile Museum. While the cars aren't the multi-million dollar vehicular art you often see at car museums, they did represent a collection of vehicles that are just as interesting. Plus, you can't beat the fact that there are no barrier and ample information given on each car. So next time you're in the Nashville area, be sure to stop by and check it out:
702 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37210