The Museum of Automobiles began in October of 1964, a project by then future Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, where the rubber met the road in structural strength and integrity.
Rockefeller had the half-acre museum constructed as the largest tensile cable construction in the state at the time. One of his primary requirements: that it need no interior pillars for support. At the forefront of its Mid-Century Modern concrete and metal design, it was said to garner “as much attention as the wonderful antiques it housed,” by engineer Oliver Gatchell. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The structure was ideal for the collection Rockefeller amassed from a museum in Florida. When the owner and curator of the museum passed, it was closed and Rockefeller bought the collection of 33 cars. Upon Rockefeller’s death in 1973, the collection, minus his personal contributions, was sold again and the museum closed.
In 1976, a group of ten volunteers representing multiple car clubs, opened the museum’s doors again with 33 cars on loan from various car enthusiasts, and it has been open since. Now with 50 cars and numerous antique collections, there is something for everyone at the Museum of Automobiles on Petit Jean.