The History of the New England Motorcycle Museum

Tourists who visit the New England states often take in the sights and sounds and learn more about the history of our country. This part of the notion is filled with museums and sightseeing attractions that reveal interesting facts about the history of the founding of America. If you’re in Connecticut there is another kind of history you can learn about. The New England Motorcycle Museum is one of Rockville, Connecticut’s best-featured attractions these days. Visitors come from miles around to see the collection of vintage and other types of motorcycles that are on display at the venue. Although the museum has only been opened for a few short years, it has grown and expanded impressively. The story behind the recent addition to the town is also worth retelling. You’ll discover that the story of the museum is one that is still in the process of unfolding. Here is the history of the New England Motorcycle Museum for your pleasure and enjoyment.

The story of the New England Motorcycle Museum

The New England Motorcycle Museum has launched a website to give us a previous of what the venue has to offer. Within its pages, the founder tells the story of how he came to establish the museum. He gives us the history of the old building and an overview of his vision for the NEMM. Ken Kaplan is a motorcycle enthusiast who may have seemed like an unlikely museum curator. He is an IT professional who spent a quarter-century in the field of computers for his career. He had also spent years riding a motorcycle. His passion for bikes led him to purchase an old building called the Hockanum Mill. The 205-year-old building had formerly been used to manufacture textiles, but it was allowed to deteriorate without the proper care. When he found the Mill it was in bad condition and would need repairs.

What is the New England Motorcycle Museum?

The New England Motorcycle Museum is the brainchild of Ken Kaplan, its founder. The family-owned museum is open seven days a week for anyone who has a passion for motorcycles. Ken has a collection of custom and vintage bikes that is the largest in the Northeastern part of the country. The museum features a total of 25 assorted motorcycle brands along with motorcycle memorabilia, a motorcycling magazine archive, and more.

The museum was Ken’s labor of love

We learned from Fox News 61 that the museum has taken Kaplan seven years to complete. Ken is the owner of Kaplan Cycle, and when he purchased the old mill building, he had his work cut out for him. The structure contains three floors with about 70,000 square feet for the main museum area. It took a few years for him to restore and remodel the old dilapidated building. There are now 250 motorcycles on display at the museum. Some of the bikes are Ken’s, but some of them are on loan from other collectors. The museum opened its doors to the public in 2018. Although it’s only been in business for a few years, it’s already receiving a lot of positive press.

Future plans for the museum

As if the museum wasn’t already an exciting place to visit, Kaplan had plans to further develop and expand the business. His business goals include a restaurant, a microbrewery, and a pub. He even mentioned the possibility of setting up a drive-in movie venue attached for motorcyclists to roll in and catch a flick. Ken allotted 12,000 square feet of space for that part of the museum. This has created a spectacular place to stop, do some sightseeing, and catch a bite to eat or have a brew before hitting the road again. A trip to the New England Motorcycle Museum is an experience that the entire family can enjoy.

It’s well advertised on the state website

The Connecticut page on tourism advertises the museum to potential visitors to the state. We learned from visiting the site that the New England Motorcycle Museum owner is also considering the development of a Motorcycle Television Series. Excerpts from the organization’s Facebook page revealed a new series that aired on the Discovery channel. Ken asked viewers to tune in to the special to give it a large enough viewer base for continuation on the Discovery Network. This is good press for the museum but it also promotes the joy of riding and collecting unique and vintage motorcycles. Kaplan has gone over and above in sharing his passion with those who are like-minded.

Others have caught the fever for the New England Motorcycle Museum. It’s now one of the featured destinations on Trip Advisor and other travel sites. It’s likely that Mr. Kaplan will continue to expand his operation with yet more features in the near future. The eatery and microbrewery were scheduled for completion in the year 2020 so we’ll see what he has planned for the upcoming year.

Final thoughts

The New England Motorcycle Museum was previously one of the best-kept secrets in Rockville, Connecticut. It took the founder seven years just to restore and remodel the old Mill that he bought to house the venue. After completing the interior and stocking it with his bikes and those that collectors are willing to loan out, he opened the doors for visitors to come in seven days a week. The family owns and operates the museum. They spread joy by sharing their passion for motorcycles. Ken Kaplan added a new restaurant, bar, and microbrewery to the museum. We also learned that he was considering developing a drive-in movie theater for motorcycle riders, as well as a television show that is dedicated to motorcycles. This is the kind of passion that creates excitement. Kaplan’s museum has a little bit of something for everyone that walks through its doors.

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