The longtime dream of having a year-round tribute to the movie that cemented Modesto in cruising history is now a reality. The Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum is open to the public and becoming a big part of the Graffiti community.
“Many, many years of work is starting to come together,” said museum board member Chris Murphy.
Currently, the downtown Modesto museum is open during limited hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays for self-guided tours and private events, but that is just the beginning.
Located at 610 9th St., the 45,000 square-foot former Warden’s Office building is the perfect place for the tribute to all things Graffiti. It is located less than a mile from the original Burge’s Drive In, which was the traditional turning point of the Modesto cruise in the late 1950s and 60s.
When the museum is completely finished, it will be an immersive experience that will include a replica of downtown Modesto storefronts circa 1940s-1960, a working radio station, classic 1950s diner and a record store, alongside the exhibits and memorabilia on automotive and Modesto history.
Of course, the real features of the museum are the classic automobiles on exhibit. Visitors who fall in love with a particular classic car or truck on display may also get the chance to take it home, as the museum is now also a dealership.
“We’re scouring the globe looking for classic cars,” said Murphy.
Some of the cars for sale are donated and the profits will help keep the museum running, while others are being sold on consignment. Either way, it means more classic cars for visitors to enjoy while in town for the annual Graffiti Festival events or anytime during the year.
Along with getting exhibits and other features up and running, the museum is involved with events in the community, including hosting an open house on June 4 and sponsoring the Walk of Fame induction of Mackenzie Phillips (who play Carol Morrison in “American Graffiti) from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 8 at the 10th Street sidewalk marker.
“We’re starting to introduce the museum to the community in a variety of ways,” said Murphy.
The museum is operated by an eight-person board of directors and a council of advisors. The museum is still fundraising to help make the entire vision come to fruition. Local businesses have already donated over $500,000 in services and over $500,000 in donations toward the $4.2 million plan. There are exclusive naming opportunities for the founders that invest to make this dream real, according to Murphy.