Motorcyclists passing through the Midwest should plan a stop at this beautiful compound. You can peruse the inspiring history of Harley-Davidson, sit on a few bikes, eat at the top-notch restaurant and be tempted to buy something at the well-stocked gift shop. Here’s just a peek at what made the Harley-Davidson Museum a special visit for us…
We explored the hardworkin’ city of Milwaukee on our Ural sidecar motorcycle, taking in the weathered streets and old buildings as we headed toward the 6th Street Viaduct. The massive brick-and-steel buildings on the museum grounds came into view as we crossed over the Menomonee River.
We admired the many artistic treatments of the building materials as you’ll see in the pics to follow, right down to the ductwork and handrails.
The method of displaying these iconic motorcycles is well thought-out in the Harley-Davidson Museum. We found ourselves assessing the welds, rivets, and paint of the creative platforms. Of course, the stars of the show didn’t disappoint. Walking through the different eras of H-D models allows you to witness the evolution of design and advancements in one fell swoop.
As graphic designers, we took some extra time to soak up the color palettes and font treatments of the period advertising. Even the vintage motorcycle lingo provided some entertainment.
Gotta hand it to the curators of the Harley-Davidson Museum for presenting, recognizing and appreciating the culture that was born out of early American motorcycling. Memorabilia found all around the museum shows the hand-lettered and hand-stitched care taken in the many authentic moto relics.
Above and below: More artful design and decor.
Among the motorcycles that span the brand’s timeline, there are also supplemental bikes that tell special stories. They’re examples of how so many passionate H-D riders have helped cement the company’s status as a national icon and worldwide symbol of America.
For some great food and American motorcycle ambiance, the Motor Bar & Restaurant should be included in your visit. Before you go, check out their website for menu info and hours of operation (they close sometimes for private events).
Cool merchandising and design is carried out through The Shop, too, which is the museum’s gift shop featuring apparel, knick-knacks, art, books, and tons more.
Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was our visit with Willie G. Davidson and Casey Ketterhagen. This opportunity ain’t on the normal tour of the museum! Friend and H-D designer, Casey Ketterhagen (pictured below) set up an office visit where we all talked about the past, patriarchs, plans and painting. As you might imagine, we’ll remain forever thankful for this.
The story of Willie G’s role in the company is amazing, (a story worth pursuing). And, it was a treat to see the two Harley-Davidson designers shoot the bull on this early afternoon in Milwaukee, both representing the past, present and future of designing and styling America’s motorcycles.
To get an idea of what makes the Harley-Davidson Museum special, beyond bikes, have a look at their Exhibits page to see what’s permanent and what’s coming up. Also, their Calendar of Events will clue you in on how to maximize your stay. To get an overall lay of the land, check out the Visitor Info page.
Whether you’re an H-D fan or your loyal to a different brand, we’d recommend this place as a worthy stop on your motorcycle bucket list.