“It’s A Tragedy That The World Doesn’t Have A Proper Jeep Museum,” I wrote back in 2017, pointing out that a brand with such a rich heritage, and one with millions of fans around the world, somehow doesn’t have its own temple of worship. But that might be changing, as there are now official plans to build an “interactive” Jeep museum in the home of Jeep—Toledo, Ohio.
The museum is apparently going to be called The Jeep Experience, and it should open in 2022 somewhere in the Toledo area. From the Toledo Blade:
Members of a non-profit working group announced Tuesday intentions to open the facility, which will be called The Jeep Experience, in 2022. A location for the museum, a 56,000 square-foot building that will have “interactive exhibits,” has been chosen but has not yet been announced to the public while the group works to finalize a contract. The building will be in metropolitan Toledo.
Randy Oostra, president and CEO of Toledo-based healthcare company ProMedica, will be on the board of directors of the 501(c)(3) non-profit that is taking the reins of the $40 million project, the Toledo Blade writes. A ProMedica representative told me over the phone that while it helped create the non-profit, the company itself will not be running the project, but rather will leave that to the 501(c)(3).
Oostra told the Toledo Blade that the project came about after a Toledo “revitalization group” wrote to Fiat Chrysler asking for the company’s help. There’s no word on what the automaker will contribute financially to the project, but apparently the owner of the Jeep brand has been involved with the planning. Toledo news station WTOL 11 has a statement from FCA:
There are no more passionate fans of an automotive brand than Jeep®, so we are thrilled by this initiative to honor the heritage of such an iconic brand, and celebrate the women and men who have dedicated their lives to building these vehicles for nearly 80 years...We look forward to working with Toledo community leaders to bring this interactive Jeep experience to life.
A ProMedica representative sent a press release describing the museum, which is expected to include an off-road course:
“ProMedica, along with other community leaders, has been working for several years to transform a Jeep®-themed attraction concept into a reality, and now there is tremendous momentum behind this project,” said Randy Oostra, President and CEO of ProMedica.
The proposed attraction would include a venue with exhibits and international stories that pay tribute to the brand’s legendary heritage. Also, it would provide a wholly integrated and interactive experience that includes an off-road course showcasing the capabilities for which Jeep vehicles are known.
ProMedica’s press release, the Toledo Blade, and WTOL 11 all have quotes from legendary former Toledo Assembly plant manager and chairman of the Jeep Fest event, Jerry Huber. He told the latter:
“Hopefully, everyone has got to be as excited as I am about this. It’s great news for Toledo and all the employees of the Jeep plant, past and present,” Huber said. “The most important thing to realize is that this long and storied history of Jeep is reaches far beyond the Toledo area.”
For many years, there have been talks about a Jeep museum, but now it looks like Fiat Chrysler is onboard, a major Toledo-based business is involved, and a highly influential figure in Toledo—the man who ran the Jeep plant for many years—is playing a role.
But before we get too excited about the project, which the Toledo Blade says is expected to bring 250,000 visitors to Toledo each year, there’s the issue of funding. Oostra says fundraising has begun, and that he thinks 2022 is a feasible timeframe for completion. The company’s chief strategic planning, business development and real estate officer Robin Whitney told the Toledo Blade to expect a year and a half of fund-raising before design of the museum can begin.
Without the funding secured, it’s hard for me to get too excited, as this is far from the first time the idea of a Jeep museum in Toledo has floated around (Check out Hemmings’ awesome story on the history of Jeep museums). But especially with Fiat Chrysler’s blessing, this does seem promising, especially if the museum can sustain itself on ticket sales for events museum admission, as it is expected to.
Gosh, I hope this happens. It’s absurd that such a strong brand has gone over 75 years without its own museum.