Saturday, June 11, 2011

Collection X

Yesterday we went to the Members' Preview at the new Harley-Davidson exhibit named "Collection X." Collection X is a number of previously undisplayed pieces from the Harley-Davidson archives. Some of these items were very interesting. The exhibit is small -- it takes about an hour to view -- but it's worth it. My favorite was a "snowmobile" kit that could be made from a Harley engine. The "Pop's Trolley" shown here is one of the surviving examples. I love this thing -- it's like something my childhood imagination would have thought up! A rocket-shaped sled powered by a propeller?! Yes! Imagine how fun this thing would have been to ride around in on a frozen Wisconsin lake.

A great segment of the exhibit displays ways that Harleys have been used in non-traditional ways. In the first half of the 20th century, necessity was the mother of invention and there were many ways the power of the motorcycle engine could be adapted to suit a particular need. Another favorite was this straight-out-of-a-horror movie ice cutter! I can't even imagine how unsafe this beast would have been to operate! A series of chain reductions coming out of the crankcase powered this giant oscillating blade. Oh Mark Borchardt, the things you could do in movies with this maniacal device!

Another part of the exhibit displayed some of the Harleyware items which have been made for the Harley enthusiast (For the record, I like their motorcycles, but have zero interest in anything else Harley related. Maybe a particular t-shirt or a decal, but that's about it). When you see the exhibit, you may wish to hold in your laughter when viewing -- what you find hilarious and gaudy, the 6'8" bearded guy next to you might find delicate and gorgeous. Exhibit "A" would have to be the complete Harley wedding ensemble including a white leather tuxedo and a gorgeous his and hers, pewter eagle-embraced wine goblet set (pictured). I found the wine goblet set too much to hold back and I let out an "OMG! Look!" gasp. "That's so hideous!" I didn't get a punch, but I can't say you won't be so lucky!

The last great benefit is that they have a beer brewed by Lakefront Brewery specially for this exhibit. The beer's name is Collection X. It's a slightly sweet, malty brew where one glass is enough before you look for something lighter to wash it down. It's good; I'll get it again.

Collection X runs through August 21 at Milwaukee's Harley Davidson Museum [site].

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