The Henry Ford, a National Historic Landmark, (also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and more formally as the Edison Institute), in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA, is the nation's "largest indoor-outdoor history museum" complex. Named for its founder, the noted automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the property houses a vast array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theater, Thomas Edison's laboratory, the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop, and the Rosa Parks bus.
Henry Ford said of his museum:
I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used.... When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition...
The Edison Institute was dedicated by President Herbert Hoover to Ford's longtime friend Thomas Edison on October 21, 1929 – the 50th anniversary of the invention of the incandescent light bulb. Of the 260 people in attendance, some of the more famous were Marie Curie, George Eastman, John D. Rockefeller, Will Rogers, and Orville Wright. The dedication was carried on radio with listeners encouraged to turn off their electric lights until the switch was flipped at the Museum.
The Edison Institute was originally composed of the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and the Greenfield Village Schools (an experimental learning facility). Initially, Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum were owned by the Ford Motor Company which cooperates with the Henry Ford to provide the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and is a sponsor of the school. The Henry Ford is sited between the Ford Dearborn test track and several Ford engineering buildings with which it shares the same style gates and brick fences.
Henry Ford Museum began as Henry Ford's personal collection of historic objects, which he began collecting as far back as 1906. Today, the 12 acre (49,000 m²) site is primarily a collection of antique machinery, pop culture items, automobiles, locomotives, aircraft, and other items:
Greenfield Village is considered the largest outdoor museum in America. Patrons enter at the gate, passing by the Josephine Ford Memorial Fountain and Benson Ford Research Center. Nearly one hundred historical buildings were moved to the property from their original locations and arranged in a "village" setting. The museum's intent is to show how Americans lived and worked since the founding of the country. The Village includes buildings from the 17th century to the present, many of which are staffed by costumed interpreters who conduct period tasks like farming, sewing and cooking. A collection of craft buildings such as pottery, glass-blowing, and tin shops provide demonstrations while producing materials used in the Village and for sale. Greenfield Village has 240 acres (970,000 m²) of land of which only 90 acres (360,000 m²) are used for the attraction, the rest being forest, river and extra pasture for the sheep and horses.
The transportation system provides rides by horse-drawn omnibus, steam locomotive, a 1931 Model AA bus (one of about 15 left known to exist), and authentic Ford Model Ts. Steam locomotives in operation include the Torch Lake, an 1873 0-6-4 Mason Bogie which is one of the oldest operating steam locomotives in the U.S., and the Edison, a Baldwin 4-4-0.
Some of the most notable homes and buildings include:
Each year the Village celebrates the Memorial Day weekend with its Civil War Remembrance. This event features several hundred Civil War Reenactors who are invited to camp in the Village over the weekend. Attractions include infantry, cavalry, and artillery demonstrations, as well as a reenactor's ball, and special memorial events to commemorate the sacrifices of United States Military Veterans.
Motor Muster is one of two car shows that takes place annually in Greenfield Village. Motor Muster is traditionally held on Fathers Day weekend. This event currently features cars built from 1934–1977, and features between 500-700 cars. Special attractions include car judging, pass in review.
Salute to America
For four nights around the Fourth of July, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs a patriotic concert on Walnut Grove in the Village. Attendance ranges from 5000–9500 per evening.
Ragtime Street Fair
This event was innaugurated in 2007 and is slated to return in 2008. The Street Fair features several live performers along with recorded music from the Ragtime era (ca. 1900-1917). Dancing lessons are provided free of charge at this event.
Old Car Festival
Features cars from 1890–1933 and is the event from which Motor Muster was spun off. Old Car Festival has been held on the first weekend after Labor Day since 1955. This event features 500-700 cars. Special events include car judging, pass in review, gaslight tour (Saturday night only), and car races on Walnut Grove.
During the summer, there is a daytime Discovery Camp for children in grades 2-8. Children participate in apprenticeships, canoeing and glass blowing depending on their age.