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High Museum to host ‘Dream Cars’ exhibit in summer ‘14

By Howard Pousner

Having gotten good mileage out of an exhibition of custom-designed, limited-edition automobiles in 2010, the High Museum of Art is getting back in the car business.

It announced Thursday that it will mount an exhibit of 19 concept cars from the 1930s to the 21st century in “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas,” on view from May 22 through Sept. 7, 2014.

The show will pair the futuristic cars from Europe and the U.S. with conceptual drawings, patents and scale models. The thrust of the exhibit is to show how experimental design oiled the gears of progress, elevating the automobile from a functional object to a symbol of future possibilities.

Concept cars typically are not limited by marketplace considerations. They are created as showcases of innovative design and styling and as opportunities to experiment with new technology.

“Dream Car” star attractions will include:

  • “L’Oeuf Électrique” (1942), Paul Arzens’ electric bubble car, which was designed for use in Paris during the German occupation. It has never before traveled to the U.S.
  • William Stout’s “Scarab” (1936), progenitor of the contemporary minivan.
  • “Lancia Stratos Zero” (1970), a wedge-shaped car that is only 33 inches tall.
  • Christopher Bangle’s BMW “GINA Light Visionary Model” (2001), which sports a fabric exterior.
  • Three cars introduced at General Motors’ 1949-61 Motorama shows: Firebird 1 (1954), Buick Centurion (1956) and Le Sabre (1951).
  • A full-scale (6-foot-by-20-foot) rendering of a concept car by Carl Renner (1951).

The High attracted strong foot traffic (drawing 146,841) and garnered positive reviews for the 2010 exhibit “The Allure of the Automobile,” a show built around 18 hand-built vintage vehicles.

“That exhibition was tremendously successful in bringing new audiences to the museum,” High director Michael Shapiro said. “With ‘Dream Cars,’ we continue our commitment to showcasing the importance of design and encouraging future innovation.”

The exhibit will be curated by Sarah Schleuning, the High curator of decorative arts and design, with consulting curator Ken Gross. An 160-page color catalog will accompany the show.

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