‘Roadside America’ exhibit debuts at The Henry Ford

DEARBORN, Mich. — AmericaJR.com had the pleasure to attend the VIP preview for the new exhibit  “Roadside America–Through the Lens of John Margolies” at The Henry Ford.   Margolies, a world-renowned author and photographer, took us on a road trip across America’s landscape.

He drove over 100,000 miles on the back roads zig-zagging the United States while taking pictures of quirky signs with unusual architectural design.  He spent decades photographing miscellaneous signage.  With his eye for detail and being at the right place at the right time, he photographed sites just prior to their disappearance. His archives of photographs are humorous and inspiring.

As you walk into this exhibit, there is a video of Margolies talking about the road across America that he traveled.  We learned about John’s inspiration for his documented collection.  Then, there was a display of lots of doorknobs with different “Do Not Disturb” tags on them.  Each of them said something different on the tags, but meant the same thing.  Some were just plain funny.

There was also a map of the United States on the wall with pennants of places he’s been in the cities he visited.  Back in the day, pennants were road trip collectibles.  As we continued to walk the highway of the exhibit, we saw signs on the walls from various places dated back to the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

There was a slideshow of different businesses such as old barber shops, drive-ins, gas stations, drug stores and hamburger joints, just to name a few.  Then, following the road farther is the “Margolies Image Gallery” where he took photographs of places such as restaurants and cafes, larger-than-life Presto Whip canisters, and Dutch Boy donuts.

John Margolies has said his “greatest goal in life is to go everywhere and see everything.”  I think he is on his way to accomplish that.   This exhibit was fascinating and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

“Roadside America”  runs from June 20 through January 24, 2016 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

1950 Buick Roadmaster (Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)
Attendees at the VIP preview (Photo by Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)
John Margolies has spent decades photographing the quirks and ingenuity of America’s roadside architecture. (Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)
Faux motel room (Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

Admission is included with a Henry Ford Museum ticket.  Members are free.  Tickets prices are:  Adults (age 13-61)  $20, Seniors (age 62+)  $18, youth (age 5-12)  $15, and children under 4 is free.  Parking is $6 per vehicle for non-members and free for members. The Henry Ford is located at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 46124. For more information, visit their website at www.thehenryford.org or call (800) 835-5237.

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