IMS Museum Reveals Deaccessioning Program


INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation officials have announced a strategic deaccessioning program to enable the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to focus directly on its mission of celebrating the thrill, innovation, and adventure of motor racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Indiana’s rich automotive heritage.

The IMS Foundation is the 501(c)(3) public nonprofit that operates the IMS Museum and owns the Museum collection.

Deaccessioning is, according to the American Alliance of Museums, “the process of removing an item from a museum’s permanent collection,” and an accepted best practice among museums. The IMS Foundation is undertaking the process with automobiles and motorcycles that are not related to the Museum’s mission, and proceeds will be used for future acquisitions directly related to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and Indiana automotive history, and for the direct care of the Museum’s collection.

The sales are part of an ongoing, multi-year initiative established in 2015 by the IMS Foundation Board of Directors to focus the Museum’s collection and acquisition priorities on its mission.

The Foundation conducted a public auction March 11, 2017, to sell items that, mostly, were accumulated by longtime track owner Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. for a proposed amusement park and never intended to be part of the IMS Museum collection.

The IMS Foundation board and Museum staff initiated a study in 2018 of the vehicle  collection and Jason Vansickle, IMS Museum curator of vehicles, explained the process.

“Over the past 60-plus years the Foundation acquired, by purchase and donation, a wide variety of automobiles and motorcycles, many with no connection to auto racing, the Speedway, or the Indiana auto industry,” Vansickle said. “With the 2018 study, the Foundation began a process of defining what its collection should be, in terms of the collection’s scope and priorities in each focus area.

“Our curatorial and collections staff have reviewed our collection over the past two years, and vehicles that do not help the Foundation serve its mission or are duplicative of other, better examples were recommended to the Board for deaccessioning.”

The Board approved deaccession of certain vehicles in November 2019. Many of the cars identified for sale were purchased by the IMS Foundation decades ago and are not tied to donors; however, for the few cars that were donated, Museum staff is currently notifying donors or heirs.

The sale does not include any Indianapolis 500-winning cars or other historically significant race cars in the collection such as the 1954/55 Mercedes-Benz W196, 1964 Ferrari 250LM or 1966 Ford GT40.

The Foundation explored a variety of disposition sales approaches and, given the current health crisis, chose popular online automotive auction company Bring A Trailer to sell select vehicles. Other means of sale may be used over time. Interested parties should follow IMS Museum social media for regular updates and new listings. The Museum’s address on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is @IMSMuseum.

Despite the IMS Museum’s closure due to the COVID-19 national emergency, the IMS Foundation remains in good financial standing – the deaccessioning and sales are in no way tied to the current health crisis and have been in process for more than two years.

IMS Museum staff are preparing to reopen the Museum on July 7, and IMS track tours are scheduled to resume July 6. The popular exhibit, “From the Vault presented by Bank of America,” has been extended until March 21, and a new exhibit scheduled to open Aug. 1 will be announced shortly.