Photo Credits: National Corvette Museum
A new exhibit at the National Corvette Museum aims to shine an in-depth spotlight on all aspects of the design process responsible for the popular sports car.
Years in the planning, the 6,500-square-foot Driven by Design exhibit will finally open in the museum’s Design and Engineering Gallery on Sept. 21, 2022.
The museum says the long-term exhibit is designed to inspire, educate, and entertain museum guests through interactive elements, artifacts, hands-on objects, and motion-activated content.
Not only will the exhibit tell about legendary Corvette Vice Presidents of Design like Harley Earl in the beginning and now Mike Simcoe in the mid-engine era, but it will also focus on a diverse group of lesser-known workers who weren’t necessarily in the spotlight but still played key roles in the design of the Corvette.
“This exhibit reveals the significance of individuals like Larry Shinoda, an Asian-American designer, and Tony Lapine from Germany, who both worked together on Corvette not long after World War II – during a very challenging time in America,” says Bob Bubnis, Curator of Collections and Exhibits Manager. “This exhibit also shares the history of women in design, from the ‘Damsels of Design’ in Corvette’s early days to GM Creative Designer Darby Barber, working on the cars of tomorrow. Corvette’s story is truly the story of America – where innovation and ingenuity are not bound by any societal construct.”
Through sketches, renderings, and clay and prove-out models, visitors will receive an up-close view of the design process, including exterior and interior design to future-looking projects and designs. Interactive elements will also allow guests to see the actual tools and models responsible for the Corvettes we see on the road every day.
“Portions of this exhibit are motion activated to help us tell the story of car design,” says Leah Craig, Manager of Collections and Educational Programming. “Guests will walk into an area and hear from sketch artists about their process. As guests continue through the exhibit, they’ll learn about how clay modeling occurs and even get to see a car being drawn from scratch on an art can. We really are offering a full experience here for anyone who has ever been curious about how a car is designed.”
Actual Corvettes will also be part of the exhibit, including a 1963 donated by Manny Balale, the 1957 Corvette SS designed for racing under Harley Earl, and the 1961 Mako Shark concept car.
One goal of the exhibit, according to President and CEO Sharon Brawner, will be to motivate young people to pursue their dreams and help them look beyond their limitations – real or perceived.
“This team has spent countless hours creating Driven by Design to pull back the curtain on the auto design process,” she says, “and we hope that this exhibit inspires the next generation of engineers and designers.”
The exhibit – made possible in part by Elfi’s Silver Pearl Sisterhood, the women-driven organization of philanthropic Corvette enthusiasts – will run for several years, with an annual refresh to bring in other important cars and tell more stories.
“As Corvette advances for each generation,” Bubnis said, “we will continue to add to the Driven by Design exhibit space.”
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