Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Reactivate The Henry Ford

October 13, 2020 Think THF

Three kids look through wooden fence at horses and red barn with fall-color trees and pumpkins nearby

In almost 91 years, our doors have never been closed for more than two days at a time. We have always been here — for your field trips, your weddings, your holidays and your family days out. Then everything changed.

Two children walk down gravel lane between wooden fences toward a red brick farmhouse

For almost 16 weeks, we were unable to welcome guests through our doors. With almost two-thirds of our operating budget coming from earned revenue — admission tickets, memberships, signature and private events, food and retail purchases — the closure had a devastating impact. In addition to other cost-saving measures, The Henry Ford made the very difficult decision to place more than 80% of our staff (nearly 1,400 employees) on temporary, unpaid leave. Our venues were dark and quiet.

Four people (two in wheelchairs) pose with arms outstretched underneath a silver-and-blue airplane

Although our doors have reopened, we are still operating at a significantly reduced capacity. While The Henry Ford has not had a deficit in decades, we are projecting a crippling shortfall of $10 million to $20 million in our 2020 operating budget. But we have been through difficult times before, persevered and emerged stronger, and with your support we will do so again.

Woman in a dress and hijab kneels on a gravel path through a flowerbed with a beige stone cottage in the background

The outpouring of support we have received has been amazing. You have been there for us at each step, through donations, membership renewals, messages of support and, when we were finally able to reopen, visiting our venues again. Thank you! Supporters have donated over $400,000 to the Reactivate The Henry Ford Fund. It is great to see that many of these donors were contributing to us for the first time. Every gift is being matched by a longtime supporter of The Henry Ford, so these donations will have double the impact.

We still have a long way to go, and we can only do it with your help. Please continue to support us however you can — visit, renew your membership, donate, share on social media — every action helps. We are thrilled to have you back at our venues and can't thank you enough for everything you do to Reactivate The Henry Ford!

philanthropy, The Henry Ford Effect, COVID 19 impact

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