Imagine a museum without a collection or a conservation department. A museum that does not require a storage facility and has the luxury of being able to change its exhibitions every three months. A not-for-profit heritage organisation that financially is self-supporting. When curating its temporary exhibitions, the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania (NAMT) treats its network of car enthusiasts as its collection, inviting car clubs to lend their cars and motorbikes.
1928 A Model Ford (owned by Tasmanian bushwalker and photographer Frederick Smithies O.B.E 1885-1979)
Museum manager Phil Costello also relies on car enthusiasts who offer their treasures after visiting the museum. One Sydney man was visiting the Museum while on a driving holiday around Tasmania in his 1982 De Tomaso Pantera GTS and decided to offer his sports car as a short-term loan in the permanent display of 50 cars and 50 bikes. Within a few months, he decided to sell it through the museum. It is one of a few exhibits for sale where the Museum will take 2.5% commission.
1929 Harley Davidson J Model used as a New York Police Department vehicle
The Automobile Museum owes much of its financial success to merchandise sales in the shop. It has grown so much that a motorbike has replaced the display car and now there are plans to build a glass showroom to the west of the building and expand the shop presence. NAMT also relies on the admission fee and modest private donations. The only Government funding the Museum receives is the use of the building from the Launceston City Council.
This is an interesting example of how a museum can operate commercially and raises the question of the importance of holding a collection. For more information on how a museum likes this works, email Phil Costello.
1977 A9X Torana Hatchback
Temporary exhibitions in 2010
April – June: The Swinging Sixties
July – September: The Art of the Coach Builder
October – December: American Independence
1964 Volkswagen Samba featured in the Swinging Sixties exhibition