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Museums of all kinds have been one of my passions since I was a kid. The best ones will educate you, enlighten you, and make you think long after you’ve left them. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to visit three of the greatest auto museums in the country—Stahls Automotive Foundation in Chesterfield, Michigan, the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, and The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. These three places couldn’t be more different, but each is fantastic and challenges you to consider the automobile and its place in our lives.
Stahls Automotive Foundation
An hour’s drive north of Detroit, you’ll find this gem founded by local businessman and enthusiast Ted Stahl. Visitors come expecting to see cars—approximately 80 vehicles are on display at any given time, from an 1860s stagecoach to a 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car—but the museum also has some amazing instruments and music machines, like a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ, a 125-key Gaudin dance organ from the 1920s, and a selection of jukeboxes from the 1930s and ’40s. The cars are placed chronologically to help show their development and how they changed with time, and the key is that every car in the building has a story behind it. Those stories are all important, because they help to explain how the vehicles fit into our larger history.