GM donates $5 million to Henry Ford museum – Crain’s Detroit Business
- $5 million to sponsor the Gallery by General Motors
- “The Henry Ford is a national treasure,” says Mark Reuss, GM product development head
- Reuss says GM is important part of American innovation story
General Motors Co. is donating $5 million to a nonprofit organization founded by the patriarch of its largest American rival.
Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, announced the donation Tuesday as part of a new partnership between the automaker and The Henry Ford, a National Historic Landmark in Dearborn established by Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford in 1929 to display his personal collections and other innovations.
“The Henry Ford is a national treasure,” Reuss said at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, one of the organization’s five attractions. “One that all of us who grew up around here feel a lifelong very personal connection with.”
With the gift, GM will sponsor the museum’s rotating exhibit that will now be known as the Gallery by General Motors. Reuss said the mission is to offer exhibits that help promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
Reuss did not shy away from the irony: GM now supports an educational effort that includes the Ford name, but the gift is meant to ensure GM is part of the museum’s innovations for future generations.
“We know that Henry Ford and Ford Motor Co. have always been and will always be inextricably linked. There’s no getting around that,” Reuss said. “But the museum is a celebration of American innovation, particularly in the transportation space, and you can’t tell that story without General Motors and Ford together.”
The collaboration has been years in the making, according to officials. Nearly four years ago, Reuss and Edsel Ford II, a trustee of the organization and great-grandson of Henry Ford, had lunch to first discuss GM playing a bigger role in the Henry Ford.
Patricia Mooradian, president of the organization, said the lunch spawned a tour of the GM Heritage Center, where the automaker preserves and displays its collection of historic vehicles. She said Edsel Ford II asked Reuss “to imagine a world where two companies that are intense rivals in the marketplace can come together to support our nation’s museum of innovation.”
Reuss answered by joining the Henry Ford Board of Trustees last year and bringing GM into the partnership.
Mooradian called the collaboration with GM one of the most “historic and game-changing” in the organization’s 90-year history.
Reuss said the sponsorship is just the beginning of “many other special programs” that the organizations will introduce.
The first exhibit in the GM-sponsored space is “The Science Behind Pixar,” a Walt Disney computer animation film studio.
The Henry Ford is an independent nonprofit that’s not affiliated with Ford Motor Co. or the Ford Foundation. Ford family members have been major supporters and board members of the organization.
The museum features a plethora of historic exhibits, including the chair in which President Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated, the bus on which civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to move to make room for a white passenger and the presidential limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.