Three men are planning an unprecedented traveling Route 66 exhibit that will be taken around Europe — which is a hotbed of enthusiasm for the Mother Road.
The men planning the exhibit are Jim Farber, who helped shepherd the current “Route 66: The Road and the Romance” exhibit at the Autry National Museum at Los Angeles; Stephen White, who has curated several international photo exhibitions; and Jonathan Spaulding, who recently oversaw the design and collection for the Brisco Museum in San Antonio.
Farber said in an email the exhibit is in its “very preliminary” stages of planning, but he remained confident it will happen. No timetable was given.
Here is the news release for the planned exhibit:
Every year thousands of Europeans, and visitors from nations around the globe, visit the United States in order to experience a journey along America’s most famous highway, Route 66 — the historic Mother Road, the Main Street of America. Yet there has never been a major international museum exhibition devoted to the rich cultural history of this iconic highway and the role it has played in inspiring some of the world’s greatest literature, painting, photography and popular culture, as well as the pioneering architecture of the gasoline station, the motor court and the neon sign. “Route 66: Song of the Open Road” is a proposal designed to bring that experience to a global audience for the first time in all its unique dimensions.
Among the expected contributors to an international touring exhibition are the famous artist, Ed Ruscha, Pixar, producers of the animated feature, “Cars,” Google, and the Route 66 Alliance, as well as a number of important collectors and institutions with holdings of Route 66 material. A checklist is in preparation. While much of the emphasis will be on the art inspired by the highway, there will also be a selection of artifacts that will create a balance between culture and aesthetics.
Design strategies may create sensory environments that bring the experience of the road to life. Paintings, photographs, music, film, literary manuscripts, clothing, and ephemera will mingle with large-scale elements such as neon signs, classic cars, and gas pumps, all important elements of the life of the road. A central concept of the exhibition is to combine the high and the low, the common and the rare, in a democratic journey through one of the world’s most important cultural touchstones.
Support is strong among potential lenders. Sponsors are actively being sought, as is a major European or international institution to host what should be one of the most iconic American exhibitions to tour overseas in recent years.
For additional information contact Stephen White at fotodazela(at)gmail(dot)com.
If the exhibit comes together and proves popular across the pond, it could prove to have a huge impact on Route 66 tourism by bringing a new batch of travelers on the road.