America On Wheels includes all modes of road transport, from bicycles and motorcycles to family and race cars, Class 8 heavy-duty trucks, the Zora-1 Corvette and even the Segway Personal Transporter. Exhibits show the past, present and future of transportation.
"We've created an educational experience for youth to realize the changes that were brought about in the country over the past 100 years by cars and trucks," said Jack Curcio, president of the museum's board and former CEO of Mack Trucks. "A lot of museums are a bunch of old dinosaurs sitting in a row. This is a very interactive building. We have a lot of classic vehicles but they are included in a meaningful story. There are several virtual reality experiences. The kids will drive a Mack Granite truck over the road and into a construction site. They can have a similar experience in a racing car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Teachers can send students on a scavenger hunt to learn how to follow a map. The museum will offer a program called Car-Tunes that allows children to make musical instruments from auto parts.
The $17 million, 48,000-square-foot museum is the brainchild of former Mack Trucks CEO Zenon C.R. Hansen and Judith McGough-King, executive director of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation in the 1980s.
The building itself is a combination of old and new. Exhibits are housed in a brand new steel-and-glass addition to the former A&B Meats corporate headquarters. Administrative offices occupy part of the original building, along with the Mack Trucks Historical Museum, which is contributing seven vehicles, 100,000 photos and technical data on every vehicle Mack has made in more than 100 years.
"While Mack Trucks is a part of the museum, the exhibits include a wide range of other vendors and modes of transportation," said board member Paul Ritter. Other partners include Air Products & Chemicals, transmission manufacturer Allison, the American Truck Foundation and the Society of Automotive Engineers International.
The grand opening festivities will take place starting at 9 a.m. at 5 N. Front St. in the restored Lehigh Landing section of Allentown. The event will feature a collection of American muscle cars, a 1918 Mack model fire engine with a history of the fire service, can and an exhibit on fuel-cell technology courtesy of Air Products & Chemicals Inc.
For more information, call (610) 432-4200.