October 19, 2016
The Henry Ford Mission: Preserving American Innovation
Henry Ford is known to most Americans as an inventor, industrialist, and founder of the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford’s contribution of the Model T automobile completely transformed the American transportation industry by offering a vehicle that middle-class citizens were able to afford. Ford's success and impact on American culture as an innovator is still widely visible today. Although, despite his influence there is still much the average American does not know about Ford as both a collector and an educator.
Before Henry Ford founded his museum in Dearborn, Michigan, he began collecting “relics” (as he called them) such as watches and clocks during his early life. Taking care of and repairing his relics that he felt represented ordinary people and life in America only fueled his passion for collecting and the way technology worked. Even when Ford was one of the wealthiest men in the world, his passion for Americana, artifacts that relate to this history and heritage of the United States, only grew along with his influence. By the 1920’s, Ford became the primary Americana collector worldwide. As a man from rural roots, he did not want the ever-present industrialization and modernization of America to stifle the history and people still living in more rural areas of the country that were so close to his heart. Combining his power with his passion for collecting, Ford continued to accumulate artifacts from pre-industrialized America that preserve a time in history.
Upon starting his museum, Ford stated that he wanted to open his museum to offer people a true vision of the advancement of America. Ford was not an advocate of traditional history taught in schools, stating that "history is bunk". While Ford received backlash for his statement, he stood by his belief that in his view, the history of kings, queens and power struggles is not as important as the histories of real people and their achievements. In starting his museum, the tangible, visual artifacts that exemplify the fast-moving modernization of the industrial industry would have a place in the discussion of advancement and history. The museum pays tribute to many of America’s greats, including Ford’s innovation hero, Thomas Edison. Some of the relics in The Henry Ford museum include the Rosa Parks bus, President John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, and much more.
Ford was committed to educating the public about American Innovation. He also saw importance in teaching students skills like ingenuity and resourcefulness in order to continue the longstanding tradition of American Invention in the future. Visits to The Henry Ford Museum often encapsulate guests by the sheer magnitude of boundary-breaking American creation in the past, as well as the many possibilities for the future.
Interested in visiting The Henry Ford museum?
Visit our 2017 Itinerary: Great American Waterways
By: Rachel Kampersal