Toledo History Museum to re-open with exhibit on city’s rich automotive history

The museum opens for the first time in more than a year this Saturday
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Our city has a rich history, and part of it is on display in a downtown museum. Started in the Old West End, the Toledo History Museum started is now in the Valentine Theater building. After a pause, because of the pandemic, it re-opens this week.

Some would say the museum is a well-kept secret. The volunteers here are working to change that. When it opens for the first time in a year and a half this Saturday, the hope is that a new exhibit will drive in more visitors. And it’s perfectly timed for Toledo Jeep Fest.

The museum is full of local treasures, but it’s been a bit of a hidden gem.

“The Toledo History Museum is not well known,” admits board member Lou Hebert. “A lot of people don’t know we’re here, so having to be shut down for a year and a half has had an impact. We had to find ways to reach out to the community and say we’re still here, still doing this.”

One of the ways they’ve done that is through a weekly Facebook post about Toledo’s history.

“We get so many responses from people who learn about things they did not know took place here,” says Hebert. “We have such a rich history here, and we love sharing it..”

The featured exhibit for the museum’s re-opening is called Toledo’s Automotive History: Providing the Spark to move a Nation.

Michelle Schmidt is president of the museum board. Pictures of early Jeep testing in the Maumee and Ottawa Rivers are among her favorite items in the new exhibit.

“Just the work that went into it, the ingenuity,” says Schmidt. “And that came from here, and that’s the part we love. It was people from Toledo working for the rest of the country to make sure we could all go forward.”

Memorabilia from other local companies that helped drive the success of the iconic workhorse is also on display.

“Toledo companies worked together and supported each other in furthering the mission to make Toledo more prosperous,” says Schmidt. “A few of those original companies are still going strong today.”

While Jeep is a name we all know, Hebert says the city was also home to other automotive companies that you may not know.

“We had car companies most people don’t remember. The Toledo Steam or the Toledo Pope and the Milburn electric car. We produce one of the first electric cars here.”

One of those early Milburn cars will be on display at the museum next week.

The museum is free. It is open on weekends and by appointment. The automotive exhibit will run through early November.

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