Stories From the Stacks: Museum’s Library

A regular series about the museum’s motoring memorabilia and behind-the-scenes activities, compiled and written by FMM’s Assistant Curator Sian Theron. This month, it’s about the museum’s library and, in particular, a century-old map book…

This month, instead of focusing on a particular item I will be taking you (somewhat) behind the scenes of what it takes to ensure that our exhibition halls are spot on every time we do a display change. On first consideration, one may think this is a relatively simple enterprise – pick the cars and put them in the halls. In reality, however, there is a lot more work that has to be done to make sure that our exhibition hall offerings are on point.

Firstly, the decision making on which vehicles will be on show can be a laborious job in itself. We like to have themed displays, with each hall having a single or multiple themes that link the cars on show.

Next, is to determine which of the cars earmarked are actually ready for display – as we pride ourselves on this being a living museum where the majority of our vehicles still run. At times, vehicles are unavailable because they are being worked on.

Then it’s the movement of the vehicles, which not only takes considerable time but also a lot of planning and precision. With limited storage space, our workshop team performs something of a motoring Tetris as they move cars in and out to get to required models.

Lastly, but far from least, each vehicle is given a proper spa session, as our cleaning team ensure the vehicles look their very best. Display changes require the full assistance of the majority of the museum staff, without whom none of the exhibitions would be possible.

Most exhibition changes will occur over the space of two to three days, with the majority of the movement taking place before the 10h00 museum opening time. We do sometimes continue with changes throughout the day, which offers visitors a rare chance to see a bit more of our activities as well as the cars themselves.

We will shortly be making our next display changes as we head into the festive season. Exhibits to look forward to include a carefully curated collaborative exhibition with BMW SA to celebrate 50 years of the brand on South African soil in display Hall B. This exhibition will include some of BMW’S own private classic collection, as well as some more modern examples of the brand with some exciting examples of the future of motoring.

We will additionally be celebrating the 100 years of Ford in SA in Hall C. Veteran and vintage car enthusiasts will continue to enjoy a fantastic collection of grand old machinery in Hall A, while, as ever,  Hall D offers up a serving of speed machines.

Come see for yourselves!