Motorcycle museum fans in America have some wonderful choices. About half a dozen public motorcycle museums have great experiences to offer. But one, the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, is somewhat unique and now in a brand new, larger setting. It holds an amazing collection of over 300 motorcycles from over 100 years of our great sport.
The National Motorcycle Museum is set up to help you get a solid grasp of casual motorcycling and racing. You can immerse yourself in the stories of celebrities and characters like Arlen Ness and Von Dutch and take in rare art, sculpture and personal effects from these American legends. A showcase full of images and objects takes you into the wild life of showman Evil Knievel. Round a corner and see the authenticated Captain America chopper from the 1969 cult classic Easy Riders, but also take in dozens of other motorcycle movie posters from around the world.
The museum is set up in theme areas and just about every space is crammed with goodies. And you have great access; there are no ropes or barriers because they figure you know not to touch. High ceilings permitted the designers to create a mezzanine to display a fantastic collection of pedal cars designed as trucks and even airplanes. And there are a few dozen motorcycles and bicycles up there, too. Over 400 rare toys in several large antique showcases may take you back to your childhood and to your grandfather’s.
As you wander a meandering path you’ll be struck by some great simulated racing settings. Board track, hillclimb, drag racing and land speed record each have dedicated display areas. And they also hold trophies, photos, prints and other items that bring up the stories of American heroes and champions; men and women that may have risked their lives to get to the podium, and give us a thrill.
Talking with Museum staff you will also learn that this museum will likely never be finished or stay the same. There is a changing gallery that will host a new large exhibit each year. Also, a 1930’s antique gas station is being restored at the moment and soon will be installed with a full complement of petroliana; gas station memorabilia from signage, old road maps, calendars and old oil cans to restored antique gas pumps. Loaned and donated bikes arrive and are added to specific exhibition areas almost weekly.
What kind of bikes will one see at the National Motorcycle Museum, you might ask? Many that most of us have experienced; Harleys, Hondas, Triumphs, BSAs, Kawasakis, etc. But also rarities, and early bikes, you’ll get close enough to examine their finest details. Machines by Curtiss, Flying Merkel, Indian, Vincent, Brough, Maserati, NSU, Ducati, and brands like Moto Guzzi, Pannonia, Excelsior, Ariel and Zundapp, many in original paint like the amazing 1912 Henderson Four.
The National Motorcycle Museum of Anamosa is open daily except for major holidays. It’s a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation. For more information, call 319-462-3925 or visit the Online National Museum where you can sign up for their e-newsletter or plan a trip.