Motorcycles in a museum…on purpose!

Over the weekend, my wife and I were anxious to host my parents in our new home.  We’ve been living there for a few months now, and are mostly settled in, so we were anxious to show off our new digs.  Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as planned, and my parents were forced to cancel their travel plans.  *Cue the depressing violin music.*  Sadness, I know.  We were disappointed, but that’s how things go sometimes. 

Not only were we excited about hosting family in our house, but we were also looking forward to showing them the town.  We have lived in Indiana for my entire life, but their familiarity with Indianapolis is non-existent.  I was looking forward to driving them around downtown, by Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field, Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Canseco Fieldhouse), Butler University, the capital building, around Circle Center, and maybe even a short stroll on the canal.  The city really does have a LOT to offer. 

Fortunately enough, it also turns out that the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is presenting quite an interesting exhibit for bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts called Steel Ponies for the duration of the summer.  That description not only suits me, but my Pops as well, so I was really looking forward to gawking at some amazing machines with him.  Since my parents were unable to make it, my wife and I decided to go ahead and check out the display on our own, and boy am I glad we did!

The exhibit opened up with a classic Indian motorcycle greeting you as you walk into the entrance along with “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf playing over the sound system.  (Totally not joking – what an awesome museum!)  The first turn leads you right into a 1902 Indian – one of the first American motorcycles ever built!

1902 Indian - Original American motorcycle

After perusing some other timeless classics on display from Indian, Harley Davidson, and some lesser known American manufacturers, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted what we came to see from across the museum – the Captain America chopper from Easy Rider!  Not only that, but other leading bikes from the big screen were displayed right there with it, from Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One” and Peter Fonda’s “The Wild Angels.”

Bikes of the big screen

As I turned around with my eyes wide open in awe, my jaw dropped and my mouth was suddenly just as wide as my eyes when I saw two stunt bikes from Cookie Crum, and the ever-famous, Evel Knievel!  Cookie Crum was known as the Queen of the Hell Drivers as well as the Queen of the Daredevils.  She blazed a trail that many men would be scared to death of, riding around a wooden ring, horizontal to the ground below.

Cookie Crum's stunt bike

As a kid, Evel Knievel was the closest thing you could get to a real-life superhero.  He was flashy, brave, daring (obviously), and more than a little crazy.  To stand 2 feet from a bike that he rode to successfully complete stunt jumps was quite a feeling.  The quote painted on the wall behind the bike was equally fitting to the display.

“I guess I thought I was Elvis Presley but I’ll tell ya something.  All Elvis did was stand on a stage and play a guitar.  He never fell off that stage at no 80 miles per hour.” – Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel's stunt bike

Beyond this portion of the exhibit were a few bikes featured on the silver screen.  My wife was drawn to the Chippewa Nation bike that was built by Orange County Choppers and was featured on the show American Chopper.  But even more important, was a mechanical masterpiece built by none other than Arlen Ness – “Untouchable.”

"Untouchable" - built by none other than Arlen Ness

I don’t only show these pictures to make you jealous (but you can bet that’s part of it!), I’m writing this blog to encourage you to get out and explore your surroundings.  Find out what’s going on in your area that beats going to a movie theater.  Discover something different and out of the norm…maybe even a little unusual.  Who would’ve guessed than a Native American museum would house such beauties as these?  Luckily, I did.  So get to it, and let me know what you find!

Thank you, that is all.


2 responses to “Motorcycles in a museum…on purpose!

  • Angie Peterson

    I’m not even kidding, earlier this week I had this train of thought (You will see how my mind digresses) ~ As I was behind a motorcycle pulling up to a light and I thought about the bumper stickers that are kind of popular now, “Start seeing motorcycles.” And then somehow I went to “who came up with the idea of putting a motor on a bicycle?” and I really thought of what the first motorcycle looked like! I am not a motorcyclist, but this exhibit looks interesting.
    Also, in the state of Illinois, did you know that a motorcyclist can procede through a red light if no traffic is coming after waiting “a reasonable amount of time”?

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