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Open MAKE at the Exploratorium
Feb. 18, 2012

Palace of Fine Arts
Painting of the Palace of Fine Arts by Colin Campbell Cooper c. 1915. (Wikipedia and Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento)

Lynn accepts an invitation from the Exploratorium (the interactive science museum at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco) to exhibit his 1914 Touring at Open MAKE, an event designed to get young people interested in making stuff. This event is loosely related to the Maker Faire at which the Bay Area Horseless Carriage Club has exhibited their vehicles in the past. In fact it was the past participation by the BAHCC at the Maker Faire that precipitated the invitation to this event.

It is a really unique experience, and Lynn meets many new and interesting people as he stands next to his nearly one-hundred-year-old car parked outside the main entrance to the Exploratorium. Lynn and Annie are awash in a sea of young and enthusiastic people, many of whom take great interest in the car and the rotund senior citizen dressed in a funny costume that constituted Lynn's approximation of motoring daywear of the period.

The fact that the building housing the museum was also built nearly one-hundred years ago is not wasted on him. At times Lynn romantically daydreames what it might have been like if he and Annie (our 1914 Touring) had visited the Palace of Fine Arts in 1915. Originally constructed as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, the facility was designed to exhibit works of art and is one of the few surviving structures from the exposition. Annie is one of four surviving 1914 KisselKars of the 892 originally built. Lynn tries but largely fails to grasp a sense of the span of time that the facility and the car represent. Ironically the theme for the Open MAKE event this day is “Time.”

One thing that he should have anticipated in hindsight, but surprises him nonetheless at the moment, is the large number of out-of-town and foreign visitors that Lynn encounters. Of course, San Francisco is a national and international travel destination, and the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium are significant attractions in the area. Still it is a pleasant and unexpected surprise to him to be the center of attention for so many non-local visitors.

Although he does not stop to talk with him, Lynn sees “Woz” arrive and park his Segway PT in the bike rack next to Annie. “Woz” is Stephen Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and the Segway PT is that unique, two-wheel, self-balancing personal transport device you may have seen or heard about.

Borrowing a page from the Carol O’Neill playbook for exhibiting your old car to young people, Lynn routinely invites interested individuals to sit in the car. The youngest visitors typically chose the front seat and there is often spirited competition for who gets to sit behind the steering wheel; young adults seem to prefer to lounge in the back seat. All seemed thrilled at the experience beyond what Lynn could have expected. He likes to think that one of these folks may go on to own an old car some day as a result of an experience like this.

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Last updated: Feb. 21, 2012