Groundbreaking for the America On Wheels museum, which will focus on bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and trucks, is scheduled for Friday at Hamilton and North Front streets in Allentown, Pa., home of Mack Trucks.
“America on Wheels is really telling the story of over-the-road trucking and the transportation industry,” museum director Carroll Cook said.
Mack will loan several classic vehicles to the new museum. The museum also will house the offices of the Mack archives, documenting 105 years of Mack history, said Mack spokesman Bob Martin.
“We get several hundred requests a month from people asking about trucks they have bought,” Martin said. “Through the archives, we are able to tell them where the truck was made, when it was first bought, and where it was purchased.”
The public will not be able to access the archives directly but via a staff of curators.
The first person to imagine such a museum was former Mack President and CEO Zenon Hansen in the 1970s, Martin said. “We have a strong interest in seeing this come about since we were the first to think about it.”
The 43,000-square-foot museum will be the first step in the redevelopment of the former Allentown industrial area known as Lehigh Landing, near the Lehigh River.
Construction of the $15 million museum is being funded by government grants and by individual, foundation and corporate donations to a $4 million capital campaign. Operating costs will be paid out of an endowment funded by a $3 million grant from the American Truck Foundation, established by Hansen years ago to help bring the museum about.
The museum has been in the works for many years – indeed, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held in 2001 – but various obstacles delayed the project until now.