The National Corvette Museum (NCM) is pleased to announce its plans to open Driven by Design, a 6,500-square-foot exhibit focused on the history of Corvette’s design process and the stories of the diverse group of individuals responsible for the most iconic sports car design of all time. This long-term exhibit, located in the museum’s Design and Engineering Gallery, has been planned by the museum’s curatorial staff along with co-curator, Retired GM Design Chief Tom Peters, for several years and was designed to inspire, educate, and entertain National Corvette Museum guests. This dual-focus exhibit uses interactive elements, artifacts, hands-on objects, and motion-activated content to help guests learn about the design history of the Corvette. The exhibit will open to the public on September 21, 2022.
The exhibit will feature Corvette’s Vice Presidents of Design beginning with Harley Earl in the 1950s through Mike Simcoe today. The exhibit will also reveal the lesser-known stories of those who worked out of the spotlight but were no less influential in creating the lines that would shape the auto industry. Additionally, this exhibit shines a light on the diversity of the individuals responsible for Corvette’s iconic design.
According to Bob Bubnis, Curator of Collections and Exhibits Manager for the National Corvette Museum, it’s important to celebrate that diversity. “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. 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.”
This exhibit also provides a full overview of the intricate and exciting process of designing a car, from sketches and renderings to clay and prove-out models. From exterior and interior design to future-looking projects and designs. With the use of interactive elements, guests will see the actual tools and models that led to the Corvettes seen on the road today.
According to Leah Craig, Manager of Collections and Educational Programming, this part of the exhibit is going to reveal the full scope of what it actually takes to design a car. Craig said, “Portions of this exhibit are motion activated to help us tell the story of car design. Guests will walk into an area and hear from sketch artists about their process. As guests continue through the exhibit, they’ll find out about how clay modeling occurs and even get to see a car being drawn from scratch on an art able. We really are offering a full experience here for anyone who has ever been curious about how a car is designed.”
Driven by Design will include a 1963 Corvette donated specifically for this exhibit by Manny Balale, the 1957 Corvette SS designed for racing under Harley Earl, and the 1961 Mako Shark concept Corvette. According to National Corvette Museum President and CEO Sharon Brawner, “We hope this exhibit will 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, and we hope that this exhibit inspires the next generation of engineers and designers.”
This multi-year exhibit, made possible in part by Elfi’s Silver Pearl Sisterhood – a women-driven organization of philanthropic Corvette enthusiasts, will experience a yearly refresh to bring in other important cars and to tell additional stories. According to Bubnis, “As Corvette advances for each generation, we will continue to add to the Driven by Design exhibit space.”