Saturday, June 18, 2016

Introducing "Curator on the Go"

It is with great satisfaction that after months of plotting maps, selecting car museums and contacting automotive institutions, I am presenting you with my latest project, "Curator on the Go".


Click [HERE] to go to the campaign's Kickstarter fundraiser page (starting on July 1st).
Click [HERE] for a list of stops and up-to-date tour schedule (last modified on 18/06/16).
Click [HERE] to view a 2-page PDF profile on Miguel Llorente, the Curator on the Go.



Curator on the Go is a 6-month project that challenges the traditional stereotypes of museum professionals as being stationary. For close to half a year, Miguel Llorente —former curator at the Al Ain Classic Car Museum— will be touring over 80 automotive institutions across the USA, studying curatorial practices and all aspects of museum administration and design to answer the question on what makes the perfect car museum in 80 web articles.


Automotive museums have a different curatorial and administrative approach than most art and history museums, given that automobiles are live machines that need to be driven and maintained in very specific spaces under very specific conditions. Currently, there is no single university imparting a Museum Studies course specializing on automotive museums; as a result, I decided to create a highly immersive experience by visiting 80 of the best museums in the country and talking to the professionals behind these institutions.


As someone who is fascinated by the diverse automotive culture in the United Arab Emirates, my ultimate goal would be to set up a world-class automotive museum in the country. While the UAE counts with top-notch collections like Rainbow Sheikh's ENAM and the Royal Auto Gallery, my focus would be a public museum with a focus on automotive culture, history and design in the style of the Petersen, the Schlumpf Collection, the Revs Institute or the Gilmore Car Museum; institutions that not only provide a retrospective on the history of the automobile, but also become active bastions of present and future automotive culture. Think of it as a Louvre of the Automobile.


My latest estimations point out that "Curator on the Go" will cost around $25,000 for the full six months. I plan on fundraising between $9,000 and $15,000 via Kickstarter, and pay for the rest out of pocket. With almost 30% due in taxes and fees, the rest of the funds raised will be employed to consumable costs like museum tickets ($10 on average) economical lodging ($4,000-$4,500), food ($20 a day) and fuel ($600 to $1500, depending on vehicle choice). Out-of-pocket expenses include getting a reliable car ($3500-$6,000), vehicle maintenance ($200 to $2000), flights ($1000), travel insurance ($750), a computer ($1200),  or audio/photo equipment ($700-$1200).


Each stop is detailed on this [Google Document]. Plotted on a map, it looks something like this:

The official start will be at Frank Lloyd Wright's Historic Park Inn in Mason City, Iowa; the end point of the route will be Miami, where I will be returning to Spain/UAE. There are a few extended stops to catch my breath, write extensively, meet people and maintain the vehicle. I estimate the trip to be around 10-15,000 miles, which is close to what the average American drives in an entire year.


Tough question! While in the past I have used diesel Mercedes wagons as my vehicles of choice, I am not married to any particular vehicle for this trip. However, I have the following guidelines:
1) It must be cool or funky in its own right. It's got to have personality. Appliances... need not apply.
2) Must be reliable. The trip has a tight schedule and little time for breakdowns.
3) Must do 25MPG or better. Being an grown adult means spending fuel money responsibly.
4) Parts must be available. Hunting for rare bits and specialty tools takes precious time.
5) Must be competent in the snow, given that I will be driving in the cold season. No land-yachts!
6) Resale value must be acceptable. Hopefully, something at the bottom of the depreciation curve.
7) Must be comfortable to cruise on the highway AND creep in congested traffic. No stick-shifts!

With the help of my friend Tyler, I have been considering a few options. The Buick Reatta seems like a solid, American-made candidate with an interesting story; the Subaru SVX is perhaps one of the best unsung Japanese cars, with a formidable grip in the snow; the Toyota Previa and Oldsmobile Silhouette are two vans from the future worth taking a look at; and if all else fails, I can always revert into a trusty Mercedes 300CD coupe. The right vehicle will come at its due time.

I might inquire about having Tesla lend me a car for this project, as it would be wildly interesting to do the entire route in a 100% electric vehicle.  Otherwise, I am open to borrowing a vehicle for six months and returning it in a good state of maintenance. What have you got?

**July 16th Update** The official car will be a 1991 Buick Reatta, equipped with GM's true and tested 3800 engine, and the optional orthopedic seats. No Mercedes this time!


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1 comment:

  1. Tonya K. Ibanez Said:
    This is a great initiative and can really help a lot of people. It revolutionizes the steoreotype of musuem professionals and will show a more progressive impression. It will consolidate different ideas from various institutions. Hope everything will work out for this project. This article is captivating and I love looking for about this type of info. Popular updates like fashion, family, how to get a car loan, home renovation and even online shopping are always valuable and I absolutely recommend reading this kind of updates. Well done!