Beautiful Displays at H-D Museum

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…

Riding through Milwaukee on the RO Ural

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.

H-D Museum

Trip to H-D Museum via Ural Sidecar

Right out front, motorcycle parking only.

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.

Museum Main Entrance Photo

The company founders greet you as you walk inside.

Historical Line Up

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.

Rows of Rolling Art

Bikes and Advertising

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.

Vintage Advertising

Board Trackers

Tanks-a-lot

Hand Lettered Banners

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.

H-D Museum Wall Art

Above and below: More artful design and decor.

Beautiful Museum Layout

Anniversary Signatures

Over 6,000 employees signed this motorcycle to celebrate H-D’s 100th Anniversary.

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.

Jeweled Moto Art

“Russ and Peg’s” Rhinestone 1973 FLH Harley-Davidson.

Vintage Sprocket

King Kong

“King Kong” is built out of two FL Knuckleheads.

History

Race Ready

What we wouldn’t give to rip around on this 1974 factory-built, 2-stroke RR-250.

Motor Cafe

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).

Replica at the MotorCafe

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.

Cafe

The Privilege of Meeting Willie

From left to right: Casey Wilkinson, Willie G., Corey Wilkinson, and a vintage knucklehead.

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.

Meet up with Casey Ketterhagen

The Wilkinson brothers with Casey Ketterhagen (center).

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.

Willie G Davidson's Watercolor Painting

Willie G. Davidson is an accomplished watercolor artist; some of his work is hanging in the museum.

Jeff Decker Sculpture

The Hill Climber, by Jeff Decker on the grounds of the Harley-Davidson Museum.

H-D Museum

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.

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