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Why You Should Check Out the Barber Motorsports Museum

The Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama receives more than a quarter-million visits per year. This motorsports museum is an awesome spectacle which people claim is reached at after combining a zillionaire with a great passion for restoring and displaying motorcycles. It is a great sight to behold and a must-see destination. It is a leading motorcycle museum in the nation, referred to as the big daddy of motorcycle museums. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this museum has more motorcycles than any other in the world, both vintage and modern. It has over 1,400 bikes, and new ones arrive.

How the owner displays the motorcycles

With the many bikes available, it is not unusual to wonder how the owner displays all the bikes in a manner that caters to the masses. With money, it is possible. George Barber spent seventy million dollars to purchase several hundred acres of undeveloped land on the outskirts of Birmingham. This is where the museum was created. The museum has over 5 floors and covers more than 144,000 square feet of exhibit space. The owner and his staff display the floor of the bike to ceiling in the layout of a parking garage. Visitors can take in the spectacle by riding the elevator to the museum’s top floor and then follow the large walkways down some spiral ramps. Visitors can take in the glory of motorbikes all the way. The best thing about the museum is that apart from the attractive bounty of rare-fully historical restored bikes, ninety-nine percent of all bikes are functional. This means that they can run within an hour’s time. To allow for this, a long race track of about 2.3 miles lies around the museum that is used when some of the 2-wheeled exhibits do not need much fresh air.

These are living exhibits of all the motorcycles in the museum. Some are more than a hundred years old, such as some Harley-Davidson’s utilized in the Second World War. The only machines that are not fully restored in the entire museum to full functionality are the unattainable and wood replicas. All lovers of motorized two-wheeled motorcycles should visit this pilgrimage. The Barber Vintage museum is not as dark, dirty, or grimy as people would expect when visiting a museum. It is quite the opposite. George H. Barber, the founder, has also sponsored odd art projects like Bamahenge and Lady in the Lake in Alabama. In the 1990s, Barber was thinking about creating a vehicle museum. He used to race Porsches when he was young, but he realized that another investor had just created an excellent collection. The museum’s executive director, Jeff Ray, said that he was driven to create the best motorcycle collection.

Why he decided to display motorcycles

Barber is a mechanical-minded person, and that’s why the idea of establishing the motorcycle museum. He decided to invest because no one else had done that. He set out to make the best motorcycle museum in the world. With his capital, he was able to build his collection. The museum includes a 2.3-mile track that his mechanics could utilize whenever they needed the bikes. Barber designed it as a cross between a parking deck and a Guggenheim museum in NY City. The museum has 5 floors and exhibit space of 144,000 square feet. To get to the top floor, visitors take an elevator. They then follow the pull of gravity down some spiral ramps, past the different galleries, to the exit. The museum is built easy to navigate. When one looks down from the fifth floor, the walkways appear like the flyovers of a freeway interchange.

Jeff said that Mr. Barber wished that the museum could be industrial and utilitarian to bring out the color and chrome of the motorcycles. Natural light flows from floor-ceiling windows to illuminate the concrete interiors. In the middle item, bikes are stacked fifty feet high in aging tracks. A majority of the motorbikes are displayed on pedestals that are surrounded by a lot of open space. People visiting the museum can walk around the bikes and study them from various angles, similar to the sculptures of an art museum. It makes sense for George Barber, who considers motorcycles to be a mechanical art.

Keeping the museum clean

According to this site, about 650 motorcycles and several dozen rare vehicles are on display, and they all lack a drip pan. George Barber’s motorcycle museum does not smell of motor oil. The cleaning staff keeps the museum clan. If it were a garage, it could be considered to be the cleanest one on earth. Many motorcycle enthusiasts love it. However, to reach a greater audience, consultants from the tourism industry have recommended that the owner do the following things:

  • Install video screens
  • Eliminate the motorcycles
  • Leave Birmingham

The museum is not interested in doing any of those things. The vision of Mr. Barber is preserving and exhibiting a large motorcycle collection for the individuals who understand and appreciate it.

History of the museum

According to the museum’s official website, Barber was a thriving bus8ines executive, and he started collecting and restoring classic vehicles in 1988. He later decided to change his focus from vehicles to motorcycles. He took the opportunity to accomplish what others had not accomplished and built the largest and best motorbike collection. In the 1990s, the staff at the museum excelled in restoring or conserving motorcycles in running condition or into competition-ready shape in some conditions. By launching a race program to promote the collection, he also demonstrated that it was a living museum. In 2003, it was necessary to have a sprawling Birmingham landscape to accommodate Barber’s dream. By consulting with world champion racers Dan Gurney and John Surtees, uncommon precision drove the design’s complex. In September 2003, the park which covers a total area of 880 acres, with its high-class 16-turn and the 2.38-mile track, opened to the public. On the track, many carmakers have decided to use the park as their stage for car debuts and film commercials. The museum continues to get better with its attention to detail and creative architecture.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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