Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

EI.1929.2437

Many of the buildings that Henry Ford collected to create Greenfield Village are presented to match their original function—the Wright Home, for example, is set up as it might have been when the Wrights lived there. One building that has had multiple functions within the Village, though, is a machine shop built in Lapeer, Michigan, in 1888. Henry Ford met William and John McDonald, the two brothers who ran the shop their father started, and collected their building for the Village, where it now sits near the Glass Shop in Liberty Craftworks. For much of its history in the Village it has been a functional or maintenance space, but there are plans in the works to give it a bold new presence. We’ve just digitized several dozen photos that show the machine shop on its original site, including this exterior shot—visit our digital collections to see all of these images, and watch for news about this building’s future.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

 

Chest of drawers after conservation.

This beautifully embellished chest of drawers was made between 1800 and 1810 in New England, probably New Hampshire. The decorative quarter fan motif, the nicely figured mahogany and birdseye maple veneer make this an elegant example of the Federal style.

On August 11, 2014, six-plus inches of rain fell in Dearborn over several hours, causing a backup of the drainage pumps on Henry Ford Museum’s rooftop.  Water infiltrated the museum’s furniture storage area damaging many artifacts. With generous financial assistance from the Americana Foundation we have been able to direct resources to the conservation of this and other treasures that were damaged during the flood. Continue Reading

Part of the virtual visit you can now make to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour within Google Cultural Institute.

We're very pleased to announce that we are launching a new partnership between The Henry Ford and the Google Cultural Institute, available to anyone with Internet access here. The Google Cultural Institute platform features over 1,000 cultural heritage institutions worldwide, and more than 6 million total artifacts, “putting the world’s cultural treasures at the fingertips of Internet users and … building tools that allow the cultural sector to share more of its diverse heritage online” (in Google’s own words). Continue Reading

prius-toyota

When we look at an automobile, we are moved by what we see on the outside – its styling. But what moves the car is on the inside – its engine. Please join us for a rare look under the hoods of some of the finest automobiles at Henry Ford Museum. More than 40 cars have their engines exposed for you.

Here, Matt Anderson, Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford, describes some of his favorites.

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Engines Exposed: 2002 Toyota Prius

Gasoline Engine: Inline 4-cylinder engine, double overhead cam, 91 cubic inches displacement, 76 horsepower

Electric Motor: AC, permanent magnet, 33 kilowatt, 44 horsepower

Hybrid cars are an old idea, but their moment arrived with the Toyota Prius. The car’s gas and electric power plants sit side-by-side. The electrical inverter, on top of the electric motor, converts DC current from the batteries into AC used by the motor. That motor becomes a generator during braking, turning kinetic energy from the car’s momentum into electricity fed back to the batteries.

engines

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It’s February, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, many people’s thoughts turn to expressions of undying love and devotion delivered via beautiful and touching cards.  However, from the mid-19th through the mid-20th centuries, some cards took a different slant.  Known commonly as “vinegar valentines,” these satirical cards delivered insults ranging from the mild to the extremely offensive.  We’ve just digitized about 10 examples of vinegar valentines from our collection, including this highly unflattering rejection note.  Watch for an upcoming post on our blog from curator Donna Braden for more information about this phenomenon, or peruse the digitized vinegar valentines now by visiting our digital collections.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

vinegar Valentines, vintage Valentines

mazda-engine

Engines Exposed: 1985 Mazda Wankel Rotary Engine

Two rotors, turbocharged, fuel-injected, 80 cubic inches displacement, 182 horsepower

This cutaway brings new meaning to “Engines Exposed!” Felix Wankel’s motor eliminated up-and-down pistons, developing its power directly in rotating motion. Fewer parts, less weight and a smaller package were advantages of the design. Imperfect seals, poor fuel economy and dirty emissions were drawbacks. Mazda put rotaries in several production models in the 1960s and 1970s, but the fuel-hungry Wankels are now largely relegated to performance vehicles.

engines

2015.78.2

If you’ve visited the Fully Furnished exhibit in Henry Ford Museum in the last month or two, you might have noticed a new and perhaps surprisingly humble addition to the rest of the furniture.  The distinctive burnt-orange-and-plaid 1961 chair (shown here) represents the first La-Z-Boy product to feature both a built-in ottoman and rocking functionality.  The chair was just one of a number of chairs, other artifacts, and corporate archives donated to The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™ by La-Z-Boy in 2015, which in their totality tell compelling stories about the iterative development of comfortable seating, as well as product sales and marketing.  Visit our online collections to peruse a number of these just-digitized materials, including (in addition to the chair on display) a telephone stand designed in 1928, a 1929 recliner, and “Jake,” a life-size mannequin used in testing ergonomics in the early 1980s.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

 

Maybe it was the 16°F temperature outside, but I loved this Kia A1A Optima concept roadster – named for the Florida highway running south to Key West.

 

It's that time of year again when the eyes of the automotive world turn to Detroit. The North American International Auto Show attracts automakers, suppliers, press and enthusiasts from around the globe to the Motor City to revel in the industry's latest technologies and trends.

 

Our 1967 Mark IV helps Ford celebrate its return to Le Mans later this year.

 

If you're a racing fan, the fun starts the moment you enter Cobo Center's lobby. Ford Performance has set up shop with four significant Blue Oval racers. The headliner is the new GT that will return Ford to Le Mans in June, in celebration of its historic 1-2-3 finish over Ferrari 50 years ago. But visitors will also enjoy the 2017 NASCAR Fusion, the first-built 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350, and - my unabashed favorite - the 1967 Mark IV that Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt drove to an all-American victory at that year's Le Mans 24-Hour. (The latter, of course, is a part of The Henry Ford's collection.) Once you get inside the exhibition hall proper, don't miss Juan Pablo Montoya's winning car from the 2015 Indianapolis 500, displayed prominently with the Borg-Warner Trophy. Continue Reading

turbine-engine

When we look at an automobile, we are moved by what we see on the outside – its styling. But what moves the car is on the inside – its engine. Please join us for a rare look under the hoods of some of the finest automobiles at Henry Ford Museum. More than 40 cars have their engines exposed for you.

Here, Matt Anderson, Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford, describes some of his favorites.

turbine-car

Engines Exposed: 1963 Chrysler Turbine

Regenerative gas turbine engine, 130 horsepower

Chrysler’s experimental turbine engine had 80 percent fewer moving parts than a piston engine, producing a very smooth ride. Regenerative turbines used gasses twice – once to drive the car and again to heat new air drawn into the system. Fuel flexibility was terrific (it ran on anything from gasoline to peanut oil) but fuel mileage (around 11.5 m.p.g.) wasn’t so hot.

engines

mercury-cougar

When we look at an automobile, we are moved by what we see on the outside – its styling. But what moves the car is on the inside – its engine. Please join us for a rare look under the hoods of some of the finest automobiles at Henry Ford Museum. More than 40 cars have their engines exposed for you.

Here, Matt Anderson, Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford, describes some of his favorites.

mercury-cougar-2

Engines Exposed: 1968 Mercury Cougar

V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 390 cubic inches displacement, 335 horsepower

Unlike other pony cars, the upscale Cougar didn’t bother with 6-bangers. V-8 was the only available engine layout. This XR7-G model is equipped with Mercury’s 390-4V engine. The “V” is for Venturi, meaning that there’s a four-barrel carburetor under that air cleaner. And the “G” in the model name? That’s for Dan Gurney, who raced Cougars in Trans Am competition.