Following is an update to the Model A community regarding our Museum expansion plans.

When the Model A Museum was built, it was designed to allow for future expansion. The plan was to expand at some point in time. After successfully operating for 12 years, the Trustees spent the past year evaluating our long term strategy to support the Model A hobby. The decision was made to expand the Museum using new space for more Model A vehicles shown in era designed vignettes, adding more interactive displays (such as the Interactive Starting Exhibit) and creating a working garage (Service Center), that will also serve as a learning center.

We've learned that having the ability for visitors to actually interact with Model As, in addition to viewing the collection at The Museum, supports the Museum's educational mission and promotes growth in our hobby. Frankly, once you get someone to interact with the Model A, the chance of making them hobbyists really increases. For example, the Interactive Starting Exhibit is the most popular exhibit on The Gilmore grounds. It allows visitors to learn the starting operations of the Model A in an educational and enjoyable way. I can state from my own personal experience, that once I began driving and working on Model As, I was hooked.

The mandate of the Museum expansion includes remaining debt free and to not increase our current annual operating costs. We will also not use endowment funds for construction or up fitting costs, such as the creation of the new Service Center. We know the importance of being fiscally responsible to the many donors that have made the Model A Museum a reality. There is a reason we started with a smaller footprint at the beginning and are now able to move forward with expanding the museum. When completed, the expansion will fill our contracted acreage on the campus. In other words, we started out at half our long term projected size of square footage back in 2010.

The Gilmore Car Museum is a great partner. Including The Model A Museum, there are seven partners on the Gilmore campus that annually greet over 120,000 visitors. We own the building, pay an annual operating fee to The Gilmore, operate with non-paid volunteers (we have no paid staff) and our 50 year contract with The Gilmore requires them to buy back our Museum if we ever decide to leave. The annual fee we pay to The Gilmore covers all maintenance, admission, docents, grounds keeping and security fees. The annual fee is less than what it would cost to employ just one person, let alone a staff of people required to operate a museum as a free standing operation.

Many times we'll hear comments like..."can you show more trucks?"...or "what about showcasing cars owned by celebrities?", etc. The Model A Museum has a large variety of exhibits and displays. Not all of them appeal to everyone's interest, but they help tell the story of the importance and impact of the Model A and the Model A era. When we hear questions like those mentioned, it does a couple of things. First it shows the amazing interest in The Model A Museum, which we believe to be the crown jewel of The Gilmore campus. Second it helps the Trustees and volunteers remain creative and focused on bringing in new exhibits and displays for our hobbyists. Although we can't say yes to every idea, some of these discussions have led us to initiatives such as our long term partnership with NATMUS, in Auburn, Indiana, where we have an excellent collection of Model As on display. In addition, and in collaboration with The Gilmore, we have six Model As on display in the "C" Barn which is part of The Early Ford Exhibit (1903-1953). We also have partnered with The Gilmore to give free rides, year round in Model As and last year we initiated a Model A Driving School to bring more people into our hobby. We are committed to the Model A hobby, its sustainability and growth.

In closing, I welcome your suggestions, comments and questions. Feel free to e-mail me through the MAFFI website, or call me at 803-727-4392. I'm happy to talk to you...really I'd love to hear from you.

Thank you for your support and we hope to see you during this year's Model A Days. We will talk more about expansion plans during the event and provide plenty of opportunity to address any questions.

Best Regards,
John W. Begg
Model A Ford Foundation, Inc.