Jeep Museum Allegedly Coming to Ohio in 2022
After years of trying, an urban revitalization group attempting to get Toledo, Ohio, back on track has gotten an affirmative nod from Fiat Chrysler to build an automotive museum devoted entirely to the Jeep brand. The 56,000 square-foot facility will be called “The Jeep Experience” and play host to numerous interactive exhibits.
Modeled after the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee and the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, the site has not yet been officially announced. Final negotiations are necessary before a contract is put in play. However, The Toledo Blade recently received confirmation from ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra, a member of the revitalization group, that there shouldn’t be anything standing in the way of the museum opening in 2022.
“When you think about all the opportunities whether it’s the history, what’s happened in automotive, World War II, they use Jeeps in Jurassic Park, and then you look at engineering and design and production and art, you begin to think about it from a whole variety of opportunities,” Oostra told The Blade. “Part of our story to the FCA people has been what’s happened to Toledo, the renaissance of Toledo, part of that has been Jeep Fest. So being able to tell the Toledo story and all of the positive things.”
The chairman of Toledo’s Jeep Fest, Jerry Huber, said the event team has been working closely with the people building the museum. Right now, Jeep Fest brings in about 100,000 people every summer. “My long-term vision is that when the museum is up and running, that Jeep Fest just becomes a special weekend activity and draws additional people to the area for that weekend, but will become a part of the Jeep Experience,” he said.
While FCA will also be involved, Oostra said the company has only discussed making a financial commitment. Nothing official has been decided outside of the automaker saying it planned to participate throughout the museum’s development. Robin Whitney, ProMedica’s chief strategic planner for business development and real estate, said the museum would create 25 jobs while pulling in an estimated $6 million in annual revenue.
From The Blade:
Ms. Whitney said the museum, which will have live attractions such as an off-road trail where Jeeps can be driven, will have some sort of food service, whether it’s basic food services or a Jeep-themed restaurant. The group is also discussing a hotel adjacent to the museum.
“We think nationally there will be quite a pull for people to come to the area for this,” she said.
Ms. Whitney said there will likely be 18 months of fund-raising associated with the project before the design phase kicks off.
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz believes the museum has the potential to become an iconic landmark of the city and will “be right up there” with The Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Zoo, Fifth Third Field, and the Huntington Center.
“It’ll be on that list of iconic institutions in our community that draw visitors into Toledo,” he said.
The group anticipates about 250,000 visitors per year and believes it will attract international tourism. Considering the volume of automotive history located in Southeast Michigan, that might be true. Car-obsessed visitors could easily land in Detroit, spending a day at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation before moving on to the area’s smaller historic sites (The Ypsilanti Heritage Museum is nice if you like defunct car brands).
With Toledo being roughly an hour’s drive from Metro Detroit, auto nerds could easily add The Jeep Experience to their weekend itinerary while stopping to do some light antiquing along the way. Assuming the facility actually gets built and is ready to go in 2022, that’s this author’s plan.
[Image: Mattia Mazzucchelli/Shutterstock]
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People sometimes forget what a powerhouse Toledo is in the history of the American auto industry. For years and years and years The USA’s second biggest selling car behind the Midel T was the Willy’s Overland. Made in Toledo. Toledo was the baby brother to Detroit. Look at a map. It all makes sense. Willy’s was the daddy to Jeep. Jeep is still in Toledo. It all makes sense.
I think it's a great idea, Jeep is a big and unique part of America's automotive history and deserves this kind of recognition. I know, I know it's history is now part French and Italian, but being an American who is also part French and Italian I can identify :)