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Traveling Around - Touring The National Corvette Museum
Getting To The Museum
As you travel on I-65 near Bowling Green, Kentucky, the yellow roof of the Skydome portion of the museum is to the west of the interstate. It is located about 100 miles south of Louisville and about 65 miles north of Nashville. To reach the museum, take exit 28. Just a half mile to the west of the exit is Corvette Drive that turns to the south and is where the museum is located. Plentiful parking is available at the museum.
Inside the main entrance is a cafe on the left and the right opens into a wide hallway that contains a display of Corvettes. The left side of the hall has souvenir retail shops and the right side has rest rooms and a large meeting/gathering area. One of the more photographed areas in the museum is undoubtedly the rest room entrances.
Near the outside entrance to the museum and at the end of the wide display hallway, there are displays of several Corvettes that are being offered as drawing prizes.
This display area is followed by the admissions desk. There is an admission charge. The Corvette factory is just down the street. A combination ticket to tour both the museum and the factory can be purchased. The factory tours are on a schedule and it might be wise to arrange this part of the tour in advance. It sounded to us that the factory tour included some walking and as I grow older, I am less mobile so we didn't schedule the factory tour.
In the Admissions area there are a couple of professional photo taking opportunities. The taking of photos of patrons in a Corvette begins on the hour while the FotoFX is unscheduled.
Exhibit Areas and A Movie Presentation
A small hallway leads away from the Admissions Area and includes several quizzing stations about Corvettes. Sandwiched amongst them is a picture of the original Corvette. It was a ship developed during World War 2 in an effort to protect the shipping of the Allies. Some 10 years after the war Chevrolet selected the name for its new sports car. In 1958 the first prototype Corvette Sports Car was produced.
The hallway leads to the Chevrolet Theater where a visual presentation prepares the patron to visit the museum.
Around the corner is the Nostalgia Area that has several dioramas depicting scenes that occurred during the early years of production. I've tried several times to decipher the prices on the gas pumps as I neglected to make a note. I couldn't do it, but assume they are considerably less than current ones.
Next on the tour is the Kid's Zone. We saw it only in passing.
Racing the sports car was a major activity - particularly during the earlier years of production. Even now, though, there are major championships being won by the Corvette Team. On display in this next area are several of the championship cars.
There is an area of the tour that is devoted to the design and engineering of the Corvette. It is replete with skeletonized vehicles and explanations about the various attributes that were strictly Corvette.
Many of the rare and more popular models appear next in the tour. Perhaps the most famous one is the 1983 model. There were 43 of them made and the only surviving one is on display in the museum. As with many of the cars on display, it is on loan to the museum by its owner.
1983 Corvette - A Rarity
A major portion of the Skydome is devoted to the sinkhole that occurred on February 12, 2014. An audio visual exhibit occurs at the entry area. There are warnings and precautions at the entrance to this part of the exhibit stating that it is very noisy and graphically visible. It suggests that the patron might consider skipping the presentation if vertigo or noises are of concern. The exhibit places the spectator at a level below the ground in a subterranean cave. When the problem begins to occur, debris is pictured falling from above and disappearing below the level of the viewer. Suddenly the ceiling of the cave disintegrates and cars that were on display in the museum fall into the sinkhole which eventually was 85 feet deep. The elapsed time is compressed in the presentation so that just a few moments pass during the catastrophe on screen.
Near this presentation are two viewing holes in the floor of the Skydome. It allows the patron to see down into the cavern created by the sinkhole.
In the same area of the museum, the Corvettes that fell into the sinkhole have been recovered. Part of them have been refurbished but some were damaged beyond repair.
The center spire of the Skydome spotlights the current inductees into the Hall of Fame. The walls of the area are lined with honors to all inductees. The Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor the most influential individuals in the history of Corvette.
This leads into a viewing area where an ever changing display of not only Corvettes, but other special cars and traveling exhibits. A very impressive and very long automobile on display was a 1967 Buick Wildcat. The presentation area was designed to make the car look longer by far than any of the cars next to it.
As an example of the non-automotive displays is a Corvette guitar used by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Tops.
We spent well over two hours at the museum. I would imagine that a genuine Corvette enthusiast would have no problem spending a full day there and even coming back for more on the second day and adding a factory tour to view the process of creation.
There is an extensive web site that discusses the museum and factory in great detail with much information about eating in the area, museum hours and special events, and admissions costs.