Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Virtual Visit

Visit our iconic collection of artifacts online through the Google Street View captured from inside the museum.

Cornerstone | Driving America | Dymaxion House
Fully Furnished | Heroes of the Sky | Made In America | Presidential Vehicles
Railroads | With Liberty and Justice for All | Your Place in Time


Cornerstone

Virtual Visit - Cornerstone

Cornerstone
The cornerstone commemorates the dedication of The Henry Ford. It suggests a union of nature (Luther Burbank's spade) and technology (Edison's signature and footprints). That unity is borne out by the block itself, made from Portland cement refined from blast furnace slag at the Ford's Rouge plant--a great example of Henry Ford approaching industry like a good farmer, denying the concept of waste.
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Driving America

Virtual Visit - Quadricycle - The Henry Ford

Quadricycle
The Quadricycle was Henry Ford's first attempt to build a gasoline-powered automobile. It utilized commonly available materials: angle iron for the frame, a leather belt and chain drive for the transmission, and a buggy seat. Ford had to devise his own ignition system. He sold his Quadricycle for $200, then used the money to build his second car.
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Virtual Visit - Lamy's Diner

Lamy’s Diner
World War II veteran Clovis Lamy ordered this 40-seat diner from the Worcester Lunch Car Company, a premier New England diner builder. In April 1946, Lamy operated the diner in his home town of Marlborough, Massachusetts. Local factory workers ate lunch there and those returning from a movie or show dropped in for dinner. Lamy sold the business in 1949.
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Virtual Visit - Edsel Ford’s Lincoln Continental

Edsel Ford’s Lincoln Continental
Inspired after a 1938 trip to Europe, Edsel Ford collaborated with Lincoln stylists on a custom car with a sophisticated "continental" look. Reaction was so positive that Lincoln put the car into production. The beautiful 1940-1948 Lincoln Continentals that followed arguably represent Edsel Ford's most important contribution to the automotive industry. This 1941 model was Edsel Ford's personal car.
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(Note: The Lincoln has been moved from the museum floor since our indoor maps were captured.)
Virtual Visit - Tucker 48

Tucker 48
Swooping fenders and six exhaust pipes make the Tucker look like a rocket ship. But Preston Tucker's car mixes fantasy with practicality. The center light turns with the front wheels to cast light around corners. Tail lights are visible from the side for safety. Doors curve into the roof for easier entry and exit, while grilles on the rear fenders feed cooling air to the rear-mounted engine.
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(Note: The Tucker has moved since our indoor maps were captured, but remains in the museum today.)
Virtual Visit - Concord Coach

Concord Coach
The stagecoach is a symbol of the American West, but its origins are in New England. First built in the 1820s, Concord coaches featured an innovative leather-strap suspension that produced a rocking motion over rough roads -- easier on passengers and horses alike. This example carried passengers and mail in New Hampshire and Maine before the automobile made it obsolete.
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Virtual Visit - Kaiser Traveler

Kaiser Traveler
Henry Kaiser, who had become famous building ships during World War II, and Joseph Frazer, an experienced auto executive, combined in 1945 to form a new car company. Kaisers were stylish and well built, but competing against established car companies proved too big a task. American Kaiser production ceased in 1955, although cars were made in Argentina between 1958 and 1962.
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Virtual Visit - Blue Bird School Bus

Blue Bird School Bus
This 1927 Blue Bird is the oldest surviving school bus in America. Albert Luce, Sr., built his first bus in 1925 by mounting a purchased wood body to a Ford truck frame. The body could not withstand the Georgia roads. Luce, convinced he could make a better bus, applied a steel framework under the wood body. His success led him to make school buses full time.
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(Note: The bus has moved since our indoor maps were captured, but remains in the museum today.)
Virtual Visit - Holiday Inn Sign

Holiday Inn Sign
When the first Holiday Inns opened in 1952, guests at roadside hotels were mostly traveling families who couldn't always plan their stops ahead of time. This sign -- taller and flashier than some but not radically different from other blinking neon highway signs -- was designed to be spotted from the new interstates. As Holiday Inns multiplied, the sign became a message: "Turn here for a predictable, quality experience."
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Virtual Visit - 1914 Ford Model T Touring Car

1914 Ford Model T Touring Car, Given to John Burroughs by Henry Ford
This 1914 Touring Car is one of several Model T cars given to naturalist John Burroughs by his friend Henry Ford. Ford Motor Company experienced a milestone year in 1914. The automaker fully implemented the moving assembly line at its Highland Park plant, and it introduced the Five Dollar Day profit-sharing plan for its employees.
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Dymaxion House

Virtual Visit - Dymaxion House

Dymaxion House
Buckminster Fuller was a multi-disciplinary designer. This house, his re-thinking of human shelter, was rooted in Fuller's understanding of industrial production -- particularly methods developed in the automobile industry and especially those advocated by Henry Ford for whom Fuller had immense admiration. More an engineering solution than a home, the structure was prototyped but never produced.
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Fully Furnished

Virtual Visit - Chair In A Box

"Chair in a Box"
Before opening his own design firm in 1949, Nathan Lerner attended and taught at Chicago's New Bauhaus, a reestablishment of the famous German design school. He designed such diverse objects as children's toys, the plastic Honeybear bottle, and this plywood chair. The chair was sold as a kit, with all pre-cut pieces included. It could even be upholstered--but only if you provided the fabric.
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Virtual Visit - Prototype Eames Chair

Prototype Eames Chair
Charles and Ray Eames wanted to design affordable high-quality furniture. To this end, Charles brought a mock-up of a chair to John Wills, a boat builder and fiberglass fabricator, who created two identical prototypes. Charles took one: it became the basis for what would become a modern design icon. This is the other: it lingered in Will's workshop, used over four decades as a utility stool.
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Heroes of the Sky

Virtual Visit - Allegheny

Sikorsky Helicopter
Igor Sikorsky, as a young man in Russia, tried unsuccessfully to build a helicopter in 1909. He went on to build fixed-wing aircraft but returned to helicopters in 1938. Within three years, he had developed the first practical helicopter in the United States: the VS-300A.
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Virtual Visit - Douglas DC-3 Airplane

Douglas DC-3 Airplane
The Douglas DC-3, introduced in 1936, carried 21 passengers -- enough to fly profitably without relying on subsidies from air mail contracts. While the DC-3's economy appealed to airlines, its rugged construction and comfortable cabin attracted passengers. More than any other aircraft, the DC-3 ushered in the era of dependable, long-distance air travel in the United States.
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Made In America

Virtual Visit - Newcomen Engine

Newcomen Engine
This is the oldest known surviving steam engine in the world. Named for its inventor Thomas Newcomen, the engine converted chemical energy in the fuel into useful mechanical work. Its early history is not known, but it was used to pump water out of the Cannel mine in the Lancashire coalfields of England in about 1765. The engine was presented to Henry Ford in 1929.
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Virtual Visit - "New Yorker" Reaper

"New Yorker" Reaper
The "New Yorker" Reaper was made between 1851 and 1853 by Seymour and Morgan, one of the earliest manufacturers of harvesting machinery, and is similar to Cyrus McCormick's "Virginia" reaper. Horse-drawn reapers like this greatly expanded the productivity of American farmers by reducing labor requirements over harvesting by hand with a sickle, while allowing the increase of land under cultivation.
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Virtual Visit - Aermotor Windmill

Aermotor Windmill
Engineer Thomas O. Perry applied knowledge gained through thousands of controlled tests to perfect a steel windmill, introduced in 1888. Competitors downplayed the mathematical precision of Perry’s design, but investments by LaVerne Noyes, a manufacturer in Chicago, and consumer interest in smaller, more durable windmills for less price helped Aermotor windmills become the industry standard.
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Virtual Visit - Edison Dynamo

Edison Dynamo
For Thomas Edison, successful experimental results were but a prelude to continual improvements that would lead to commercial implementation. This dynamo is from the first lighting system he sold -- installed on a ship, four months after the December 1879 experimental demonstration. Its crude finish, at odds with the highly advanced technology it embodied, suggests Edison's impatient eagerness to move from experiment to market.
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Virtual Visit - Edison's Chemical Meter

Edison Chemical Meter
To make money selling electricity, Thomas Edison had to know how much his customers used. This meter used electricity to plate zinc onto electrodes. By weighing the electrodes to see how much zinc had accumulated, Edison's company could calculate how much electricity was being used. Meters like this remained in service in some installations well into the 1890s.
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Presidential Vehicles

Virtual Visit - Sunshine Special

“Sunshine Special”
This was the first car built expressly for presidential use. It was nicknamed the "Sunshine Special" because President Franklin Roosevelt loved to ride in it with the top down. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 the car was returned to the factory where it was equipped with armor plate and bullet-resistant tires and gas tank. The "Sunshine Special" was retired in 1950.
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Railroads

Virtual Visit - Allegheny

Allegheny Steam Locomotive
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's massive Allegheny, introduced in 1941, represents the peak of steam technology. Among the largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever built, it weighed 1.2 million pounds with its tender and could generate 7,500 horsepower. Just 11 years later, though, the C&O began pulling these giants from service. Diesel locomotives proved more flexible and less expensive.
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Virtual Visit - Railway Combination Car

Railway Combination Car
The "combination car" combined the functions of a baggage car and a passenger coach. These economical railcars were ideal for distant branches or short line operations, where traffic was light. This car, built circa 1905 and used on Michigan's Detroit & Mackinac Railway, includes three compartments: a baggage area, a smoking compartment, and a seven-seat parlor.
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Virtual Visit - Railroad Passenger Coach

Railroad Passenger Coach
This coach replicates a typical passenger car used on American railroads circa 1860. Its varnished interior surfaces resisted dirt and stains, while its mohair-covered seats stood up to heavy use. Opening windows offered ventilation in summer, and a woodstove provided heat in winter. Other amenities included a drinking water dispenser and a small restroom.
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Virtual Visit - "Fair Lane"

"Fair Lane"
By 1920, Henry and Clara Ford found it increasingly difficult to travel with any degree of privacy. They purchased a private railcar and named it Fair Lane. The car had four private rooms, an observation lounge, a dining room and a fully equipped kitchen. It could accommodate eight passengers. The couple made over 400 trips using Fair Lane before selling the passenger car in 1942.
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With Liberty and Justice for All

Virtual Visit - Rosa Parks Bus

Rosa Parks Bus
Inside this bus on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a soft-spoken African-American seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man, breaking existing segregation laws. The flawless character and quiet strength she exhibited successfully ignited action in others. For this, many believe Rosa Parks' act was the event that sparked the Civil Rights movement.
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Virtual Visit - Lincoln Chair

Lincoln Chair
President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in this rocking chair during a production of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC when he was assassinated on April 14, 1865. Henry Ford purchased the chair in 1929 for the Museum, where it remains one of the most revered objects associated with the "man who saved the Union."
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Your Place in Time

Virtual Visit - Earth Day Poster

Earth Day Poster
Earth Day originated after an oil spill in January 1969 galvanized a nation-wide teach-in about the environment. Schools and communities across the United States participated on April 22, 1970. Posters like this promoted events coordinated by new organizations such as the Environmental Action Coalition.
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(Note: The poster on exhibit is a reproduction of the original, which is stored for long-term preservation in our archives.)


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