The National Corvette Museum earned top honors in the 2020 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest for Best Attraction for Car Lovers.
Twenty automotive attractions were nominated by a panel of relevant experts which includes a combination of editors from USA TODAY; editors from 10Best.com; relevant expert contributors; and sources for both these media and other Gannett properties. The public was invited to vote daily over a four-week period for their favorite. The Museum earned the most votes and subsequently was named the Best Attraction for Car Lovers for 2020.
While much of the country spent the bulk of the 2020 spring travel season sheltered at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the National Corvette Museum used that time to find new ways to engage their audience through digital content, as well as undertake a major overhaul of multiple galleries within the exhibit space of the Museum.
From March 19 through May 8 the Museum debuted 32 episodes of a new ‘Vettecademy’ video series geared towards school-age kids, offering at-home educational and entertaining episodes on various aspects of Corvette. The series was so popular that a ‘Fully Vetted’ series was also launched, offering viewers of any age an in-depth look at various stories behind America’s iconic sports car. Vettecademy as well as all eleven episodes of Fully Vetted are available for viewing on the Museum’s website.
In addition to sharing virtual video content, the Museum also hosted a virtual online car show, with over 1,000 entries, and a virtual Michelin NCM Bash event bringing together live seminar speakers, produced content and live Museum walk-throughs all via Zoom. The event welcomed over 500 live online viewers.
Upon reopening to the public on June 8, visitors were greeted with a new ‘look’ of two galleries within the Museum including a heavily remodeled and digitally enhanced E. Pierce Marshall Memorial Performance Gallery, featuring 180-degree video projection; interactive touch screen kiosks with additional photo, text and video content; integrated artifact displays; and a shiny display floor full of iconic Corvette race cars.
“Thanks to the generosity of E. Pierce Marshall Jr. we were able to completely overhaul the former performance and racing exhibit space into a state-of-the-art gallery that truly showcases important examples of high-achieving track Corvettes,” shared Museum President and CEO Dr. Sean Preston. “Pierce shared a love of Corvette with his father and continues his enthusiasm as an avid Corvette Racing fan and track competitor himself. His C7.R is an exciting centerpiece to this brand-new gallery.”
Continuing the renovations and upgrades, the Museum also gutted the design and engineering area to create a new exhibit in collaboration with General Motors on the history of the development of the mid-engine Corvette. The “Vision Realized” exhibit features iconic prototypes and experimental vehicles including CERV-I, Astro II, XP-895 Reynolds-Aluminum Corvette, XP-819 ‘Ugly Duckling’ rear-engine, XP-987 GT two-rotor Wankel engine, and the Indy Corvette along with artifacts and a comprehensive storyline of how Corvette’s first Chief Engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, dreamed of one day offering a mid-engine Corvette as a production vehicle.
“The next generation Corvette has drawn the attention of not only die-hard Corvette enthusiasts, but also fans of other marques. This highly anticipated car and exhibit is something any performance car enthusiast is going to want to immerse themselves in,” shared Sean. “What’s even better is that visitors can observe as new owners take delivery of their 2020 Corvettes right here inside the Museum. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that!”
During the pandemic the Museum also debuted a new exhibit display for the 1954 ‘Entombed’ Corvette which was made possible through a donation by Robin and Mary Vann of East Tennessee. The Corvette Cave-In: Skydome Sinkhole Experience also received an upgrade to the digital technology that powers the sinkhole collapse animation, showcasing the eight Corvettes who fell victim. Finally, visitors to the Museum will browse a special exhibit: “Cartoon Creatures, Kustom Kars and Corvettes: The Art and Influence of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth” featuring candy-colored fiberglass marvels of the late 50s to mid-60s as well as the subsequent vehicles they would influence, including two Corvettes used in the Transformer films.
“Our goals during the pandemic were to keep as many team members employed as possible and use the time to upgrade our visitors’ experience – taking the Museum to another level,” added Sean. “Our team worked hard to update the facility so that it reflects the look and feel of the next generation Corvette. We are excited for guests to see it for themselves.”
The Museum is open daily, 8am-5pm CT and is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky at I-65, exit 28.