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Ford museum is history

End of an era: The Ford Discovery Centre in Geelong will close at the end of July, after 13 years of operation.

Another Ford link with Geelong to go as Discovery Centre gets chop from July

Ford logo11 Jun 2012

FORD Australia’s heritage centre in Geelong is set to close its doors at the end of July.

The only manufacturer-run museum of its type in Australia, the Ford Discovery Centre in Geelong’s Waterfront Precinct has attracted more than 250,000 visitors in its 13 years of operation.

The decision was announced by the joint operators of the centre, Ford Australia and Deakin University, via a statement from the trust directors.

“A recent review, combined with ever-changing needs in the museum industry, has shown that the centre cannot continue to evolve and expand in its current form,” the directors said.

“Both partners in the Ford Discovery Heritage Trust will now look for alternative ways in which to continue highlighting our joint history of cutting-edge engineering, design and manufacturing.”

The trust directors said they would “work closely with staff, volunteers and enthusiasts to manage a strategic and orderly wind-down of operations and the return of loaned exhibits and vehicles”.

The decision is another blow to Geelong, which has been on the receiving end of Australia’s manufacturing industry decline.

 center imageFord has had a major presence in Victoria’s second-largest city since 1925 when the company began assembly of Model T cars in a disused woolstore.

The company still builds six-cylinder engines, stamps panels and turns out metal castings in the city, although these parts are trucked to Ford’s only Australian assembly plant at Campbellfield, on Melbourne’s northern fringe.

Question marks remain over the future of the Geelong engine plant, as the 4.0-litre inline six is destined to end its long run in about 2016.

Apart from operating as a museum, the Discovery Centre also operated as a conference and function centre, helping to subsidise ticket sales for visitors six days a week.

Permanent exhibits at the museum included a replica of company founder Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle, the world-first Ford coupe ute and displays highlighting various aspects of Ford’s Australian operations, including design and vehicle assembly.

Apart from the museum, Ford’s links with the Geelong community include what is thought to be the longest unbroken sports sponsorship in the world, with the Geelong Cats AFL club.

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