June 27, 2014; New York Times
When NPQ covered the swallowing up of eight vintage cars into a 60-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up at the National Corvette Museum in early February, we suggested that it might be a likely future exhibit, a kind of naturally occurring cash cow.
And, in fact, the museum left some slight access to the sinkhole open, with the result that attendance is up 59 percent in the last quarter over the previous year.
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The museum board has now chosen to preserve a smaller portion of the hole as an exhibit, leaving an opening approximately 25 feet by 45 feet at a depth of 30 feet, with views into part of the cave. Two of the cars might be placed on a dirt embankment to enhance the experience.
“We have to look at creative ways to generate interest in the museum,” said Wendell Strode, the museum’s executive director. “It would be so much easier to just be a regular automotive museum with our Corvettes on display, but we have to think outside the box.”
This decision was not reached without much debate, as you can imagine, but some purists think such a display would distract from the museum’s purpose—to celebrate the iconic Corvette. “On the one hand, it’s been really good for business, and the publicity it has gotten you can’t buy,” said Katie Frassinelli, marketing and communications manager for the museum. “But on the other hand, at some point the novelty of it will wear off, and we don’t want to be known as Sinkhole Museum forever.”—Ruth McCambridge