There are several enjoyable museums dedicated to motorcycles in the US – but when it comes to mainstream museums, the definitive motorcycle exhibit was “The Art of the Motorcycles” from late 1998 at the Guggenheim. The museum released a lovely 400+ page hardcover book about the exhibit years ago, but if you want a copy nowadays your only option is to try and pick up a used copy. However, if you are content with just surfing the pages of the book digitally, then you can thank BMW (one of the original sponsors of the exhibit) and Archive.org, who have partnered with the Guggenheim to release a PDF copy that you can download and enjoy at your leisure.
It was a very popular exhibit – average attendance jumped up 45% and total attendance was over 300K, the highest number the Guggenheim had ever seen. That was enough for the show to hit the road, with later stops at Chicago, Bilbao, and Las Vegas. Part of the reason why the exhibit was so popular is because it attracted people who had never attended a museum before. The hardcover book sold over a quarter-million copies, making it the highest seller museum catalog in history. So now the question is – when is someone else going to replicate it? For more on what made the exhibit so interesting, check out this excellent article from The Vintagent.
Just note that the PDF is 16 MB so it will take a moment to download and/or render on slower computers. Plus some of the pages are a little crooked. But who cares? It’s free, it’s searchable, and it’s full of pictures of gorgeous bikes. Be warned – you may lose hours of your life.
Photos from Wikipedia