The Henry Ford takes great pride in having “real”
things—the actual chair Abraham
Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot; the airplane Richard
Byrd took to the North Pole; machine tools used to make
parts for Model T Fords; the world’s oldest surviving
steam engine. Why, then do we have several replicas, or reproductions,
of famous trains, planes, and automobiles? It turns out that
there are some very good reasons for museums to have replicas.
- The real thing may be too valuable or too fragile to operate.
Running a replica allows the public to see, hear--and sometimes
smell--what the original was like, without putting the original
- The real thing may have been changed over the course of
its useful life. Replicas allow the public to see a version
of the artifact that no longer exists.
- A replica may allow the museum to tell a story it otherwise
All of these reasons apply to the transportation replicas at
The Henry Ford.
Henry Ford’s Quadricycle
The Wright Brothers’
Spirit of St. Louis Airplane
De Witt Clinton Locomotive
Bob Casey, Curator of Transportation
Marc Greuther, Curator of Industry