Tourist Attraction in Birmingham: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is the largest motorcycle theme museum in the United States of America and one of the most important in the world. The initiative and the financial resources for the foundation of the museum are to be attributed to the founder George Barber, owner of a large US company that produces and distributes ice-creams and dairy products. A passionate motorist and discreet driver in the sixties, with around sixty victories in motorsport races for series derivatives, once he took over the helm of the family business, Barber dedicated himself with great commitment to company management, obtaining a significant expansion of market share. At the end of the eighties, he began collecting motorcycles and cars, with the intention of creating a museum that had the peculiarity of exhibiting only fully functional vehicles that can be used at any time. In the early years he was enthusiastically assisted by the mechanics involved in the maintenance of company vehicles and, when the collection became large enough to constitute a group of public interest, he decided to allocate a large building abandoned by the company and adapt it as a museum. In 1994 the collection obtained the legal status of non-profit organization and took the name of Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, arriving at the inauguration of the museum area, containing 325 specimens of motorcycles, March 14, 1995. The property also had its own workshop dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of the motorcycles used by the Barber Team to participate in the AHRMA championship competitions (acronym of American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association), very much followed at national level. The sporting activity brought a large number of visitors into the museum which, also following the continuous flow of new acquisitions, made it necessary to build a new office, whose work began in 2000. On 1 November 2002 the "Barber" closed the flying temporarily, to allow the transfer of the collection and equipment in the new museum complex, also equipped with an adjoining circuit to be used for competitions and for the testing of vehicles under maintenance. The current headquarters of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, inaugurated on 19 September 2003 at the end of the transfer operations, insists in a large building that is spread over five levels, connected by a spiral pedestrian path, which include a permanent exhibition area of approx. 13,000 square meters and an additional area for impromptu exhibitions of an additional 7,500 square meters. The first level is occupied by the restoration workshop and at the second level there are about fifty cars, mainly consisting of Lotus racing cars, but there are also Porsche and Ferrari, including the "156" by John Surtees.