Destinations: The National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa, Iowa

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The National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.

Photo by Joe Berk

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What: The National Motorcycle Museum at 102 Chamber Drive in Anamosa, Iowa.
How to Get There: The museum is northwest of the Quad Cities area and east of Cedar Rapids. From Cedar Rapids head east until you pick up U.S. Highway 151; the museum is about 40 minutes from downtown Cedar Rapids. From the Quad Cities area, grab U.S. Highway 61 north and then U.S. Highway 64 west; the museum is about a 90-minute ride.
Best Kept Secrets: The nearby Scooters Restaurant on Highway 151 in Anamosa. Try the chicken bacon wrap!
Avoid: Missing the toy collection. It’s super!
More Info: www.nationalmcmuseum.org

Anamosa, Iowa, is home to the recently relocated National Motorcycle Museum. Founded in 1989, in 2010 the museum moved its collection of more than 300 motorcycles to a huge new building. The new facility used to be a Walmart, so its 36,000 square feet offers plenty of space for the existing collection and for future growth.

The museum has displays categorized into several major areas. One of the most interesting is the area focused on competition, with machines from land speed racing, hill climbs, board track racing, drag racing and more. In addition to the museum’s permanent displays, like all first class galleries, the museum incorporates new displays on a regular basis. The current display features the magnificent motorcycles of Arlen Ness, including the bike he famously styled to evoke the lines of a 1957 Chevy.

The National Motorcycle Museum has one of Evel Knievel’s Harleys, the “Captain America” chopper authenticated by Peter Fonda as the bike from the 1969 watershed movie Easy Rider, and many other iconic machines. The “Best of the Best” gallery has Curtiss, Flying Merkel, Crocker, Brough Superior, Henderson and other classic motorcycles on display.

In addition to the permanent collection, the museum features motorcycles loaned by collectors from all over the world. If you’ve got an interesting old bike that you want to see on display in a museum, you might want to contact the museum.

The Hall of Fame is similar in concept to the one operated by the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. The National Motorcycle Museum’s Hall of Fame includes about 80 Hall of Famers. These are motorcyclists with accomplishments in many areas, including engineering, writing, racing and more.

The museum’s collection extends beyond just motorcycles, too. The museum also has more than 400 related collectible items on display. This part of the museum is extensive, and in addition to the impressive antique toy collection, it includes posters, photos, emblems, signs and other very cool stuff. It’s all here.

Unlike most motorcycle museums, the National Motorcycle Museum is not privately owned. It is a non-profit organization funded by admissions fees, sales in the museum’s store, memberships, raffles, donations and various corporate sponsorships. Most of the money that fuels this operation comes from individual motorcyclists, and that’s who the museum aims to serve.

The National Motorcycle Museum is located off of U.S. Highway 151, with adequate parking for large groups, cars, motorcycles, RVs and buses. (Hey, it used to be a Walmart!) The museum likes to host events and clubs, so if you are part of a group that would like to meet in the cool new setting of the museum, you need to contact these folks!

The National Motorcycle Museum will hold its grand opening and inaugural Vintage Rally June 3 and 4. The event will include a vintage bike show and a swap meet, and the opening of a new exhibit, Motorcycles at Work.

Admission is $8 per person, kids under 12 are free, and discounts are offered for senior citizens and ABATE, AMCA, AMA, HOG, and GWRRA members.