Originally on display June 13 – September 7, 2015
The Harley-Davidson Museum’s special summer exhibit for 2015, will honor motorcycling’s legend behind the legends - Willie G. Davidson. The exhibit, titled Willie G. Davidson: Artist, Designer, Leader, Legend opens June 13 and runs through Sept. 7, 2015.
Housed in the Garage special event space, visitors will experience a celebration of the artistry, influence and impact of a man whose designs have defined American motorcycles for generations. Key elements include previously unseen historical artifacts and items from Willie’s personal collection that provide insight into his unique perspective, personal style, creative process, inspiration and influences. In addition, one-of-a-kind vehicles, original designs, art, rare artifacts and media paint an engaging portrait of this iconic figure, his influential career, legacy, and current work.
Willie G. Davidson currently serves as chief styling officer emeritus and brand ambassador at Harley-Davidson, Inc. He is affectionately known by millions of motorcycle enthusiasts as “Willie G.,” and he is the grandson of one of the original founders, William A. Davidson. Willie’s immersion in motorcycle culture and passion for art and design led him first to the University of Wisconsin and then to Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. After spending five years at Brooks Stevens Inc., Willie joined Harley-Davidson as design director, where he established the company’s first formal styling department. For 49 years, Davidson helped shape the look, sound and feel that define Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Beginning with the FX Super Glide® in 1971, he was responsible for a string of iconic designs that established the company’s “factory custom” dominance. In 1981, he was one of 13 executives who raised more than $75 million to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF Incorporated.
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Willie G. Davidson
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Willie G.’s collecting reflects his lifelong interests. These vintage toys marry his love of racing with his penchant for mechanical things.
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One of the centerpieces of Willie’s collection is this late 1930s Drake midget racer powered by a Harley-Davidson model EL “Knucklehead” engine.
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Since childhood, Willie has been fascinated with mechanized toys, an attraction that continued into adulthood as his collecting interests expanded. Courtesy of Willie G. Davidson.
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Willie was excited by the thrill of motorcycle competition, entering and winning endurance runs on the local circuit in the early 1950s. Courtesy of Willie G. Davidson.
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Willie’s personal art collection includes objects that feature striking color combinations, an elegance of form and proportion, and interesting or intricate patterns, such as this late 19th century Native American beaded doctor’s bag. Courtesy of Willie G. Davidson.
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Over the years, enthusiasts have expressed their appreciation for Willie through handmade items such as this medallion done in his likeness. Courtesy of Willie G. Davidson.
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Riding belt made by Willie G. Davidson in the mid-1980s, featuring a repeated pattern of crossed rawhide strips, which was later incorporated into the leatherwork on the tank strap and seat of the Fat Boy motorcycle. Courtesy of Willie G. Davidson.
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