The Story Of Motoring In 50 Objects

Images: National Motor Museum Beaulieu

In celebration of the landmark golden half-century of the National Motor Museum, an anniversary exhibition telling The Story of Motoring in 50 Objects will be launched at Beaulieu on the 3rd of July 2022.

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This Land Speed Record-breaking Sunbeam could be one of the 50 most important motoring objects at Beaulieu

The considered selection will be made from a wealth of more than 1.7 million items from the internationally acclaimed collection cared for by the National Motor Museum Trust. Curators have so far whittled the choice down to a shortlist of 150, and the final 50 objects will include the most historically important vehicles, motoring artefacts, film footage, images, documents, and books from its archives.

National Motor Museum Trust Chief Executive Jon Murden was quoted as saying: “The history of motoring has had many twists and turns, but the mobility it provides has been central to our lives for over a century. Our final selection of 50 objects will tell this vitally important story in all its diversity.

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A Crown Staffordshire hand-painted porcelain model of the Edwardian car

From illustrating motoring’s technology and progress, its achievement and endeavour, to transforming leisure activities and inspiring art, our final selection will be an exciting and important one to make.”

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Lord Montagu with the car that started the collection: the French 1903 De Dion-Bouton

The National Motor Museum is an Accredited Museum and all of its collections have been designated by Arts Council England as being of national and international importance. Inspiration for the museum came from motoring pioneer and transport visionary John 2nd Baron Montagu.

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The Director of Collections Andrea Bishop with her 1979 Mod Revival fishtail parka

His son Edward, Lord Montagu first displayed five cars in the entrance hall of Palace Hall as a tribute to his father, before opening the museum on 4th July 1972. Together, their legacy resulted in the foundation of the first permanent national motor museum in the world.

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Edward Lord Montagu drives Prince Michael in Daimler with Ralph, now Lord Montagu, and his sister Mary and mother Belinda Lady Montagu

To perform the original opening, trumpeters from the Royal Horse Artillery heralded the entrance of HRH The Duke of Kent—whose great-grandfather King Edward VII had been introduced to motoring by John Montagu. Historic cars and their owners gathered outside to take part in a cavalcade through the grounds of the attraction.

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Edward Lord Montagu opening the National Motor Museum in 1972

Fifty years on—to celebrate the golden anniversary and opening of The Story of Motoring in 50 Objects—owners are being invited to join a special display of vehicles from the 1970s at Beaulieu on July 3rd. More details about how to register interest in taking part will be shared soon.

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Opening cavalcade with Prince Henry Vauxhall

Beaulieu’s summer visitors will be the first to discover the exhibition’s 50 chosen objects. From record-breaking racing cars to crash test dummies, Edwardian motoring costumes to Mod parkas, Shell postcards to road signs, factory footage to motoring inventions…all are in the melting pot for the final selection.

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Ralph, now Lord Montagu, and his sister Mary lead cavalcade at the opening in 1972

Visitors will be able to use the Smartify app to scan the objects in the exhibition and uncover additional content and stories from the museum’s collections. Promising a marvellous day out to Beaulieu which the entire family can enjoy together, it will be possible to see cars that have featured in movies and TV serials, as well as ride on a ‘skytrain’ monorail.

Children can have fun in Little Beaulieu's adventure play area, and visitors can experience life ‘upstairs and downstairs’ in the Palace House, walk in the footsteps of monks at Beaulieu Abbey, find out about special agents in the Secret Army Exhibition and saunter through the beautiful grounds and gardens.

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From 1972, with the Duke of Kent


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