My Visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum
Last updated Friday, January 31st, 2020
Bruce Skaug, Managing Attorney
I had the chance to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum. It was awesome. They have a bike from every single year since 1903. Lots of cool stuff. I was in town on Harley-Davidson’s monthly Bike Night and the riders there are a little bit wild. Some were jumping their bikes through fire in front of our hotel.
Watch my video recap of my visit to the Harley-Davidson museum.
An adventurous rider jumps fire on Bike Night.
I was also there to meet with the other founding members of the National Academy of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers (NAMIL).
Along with one of my colleagues from the office we presented our successes, shared from our experience and added to our knowledge about representing riders and biker law.
The Harley-Davidson museum is a walk through the history of America and you sure can see it in the many exhibits of Harleys in wartime, as delivery vehicles, show bikes, racers and some Harley ideas that never caught on.
The museum displays a first generation, 1903 belt-driven Harley-Davidson.
Throughout the museum you will find both “don’t touch” and “please touch” exhibits. In the Experience Gallery I was encouraged to swing my leg over a variety of Harleys new and old.
While in the saddle of one of these legends I could watch a video and imagine I was riding some of America’s great roads.
No wind in your face, no bugs in your teeth, but still an enjoyable experience.
The impressive Tank Wall traces the evolution of H-D’s design and customization of the motorcycle’s gas tanks.
I was impressed how these works of art reflected the creative freedom of the brand
The evolution and customization of Harley gas tanks.
I grew up wrenching big engines and drag racing, so I was especially interested in the Engine Room exhibit.
The room features the 1940’s Knucklehead engine and a family tree wall showing the development of the H-D engine from its beginning to today.
The Clubs and Competition exhibit features a replica board track and five vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle racers.
The 45-degree track curve allowed racers to reach speeds of over 100 mph— with no brakes!
It’s easy to spend hours and hours taking everything in.
In the Custom Culture exhibit you can see the remarkable ways people have customized their motorcycles. The movement to customize gained traction after World War II.
The museum website is the place to plan your visit and find out what special exhibits and events are happening.
When I was there they had a special exhibit called Daredevils: A Century of Spine-Tingling Spectacles.
The displays included Evel Knievel’s motorcycle and riding gear and the bikes and mementos of other famous stunt riders from before my time.
The museum offers a self-guided audio tour where you can listen to the voices and stories that are part of the Harley-Davidson legend.
If you are interested in a deeper dive into Harley-Davidson history, the museum staff conduct a special guided tour and in-depth explanations on certain days.
The tour includes some behind the scenes access in the museum’s archives and motorcycle conservation areas.
The Harley-Davidson Museum sits on the waterfront on a 20 acre, park-like campus.
And if the special guided tour isn’t enough to satisfy your Harley interest they offer an Inside HD: All-Day Experience.
It begins in front of the replica machine shop shed where the first motor-bicycle was created.
From there you have an exclusive guided tour through the museum.
Then, it’s over to the H-D corporate headquarters for lunch and a look into the inner workings of the iconic brand. The day ends with happy hour and time to swap stories with fellow riders.
If you ever get a chance to go to Milwaukee, I suggest you visit the Harley-Davidson Museum.
I’ve come away with a new appreciation for the Harley legacy and the independent spirit of motorcycle riders.