Not Our Business – Goodyear Closes Corporate Museum
After 61 years, Goodyear’s World of Rubber museum in Akron, Ohio has finally lost its bounce. Citing a lack of attendance and the company’s move to a new headquarters building as key motivating factors, the US tyre major has announced the museum’s upcoming closure. Doors at the centre will shut for the last time on August 28.
This final chapter in the museum’s history follows prior attempts to close it, and a lack of updates to the numerous exhibits has done nothing to draw in today’s interactivity hungry, multimedia accustomed visitors. ”Somewhere in the ’70s and ’80s it just stopped like you see,” Goodyear spokesman Scott Baughman admitted with admirable honesty.
Despite offering free admission, the museum is meagerly patronised. Attendance ”has been dramatically declining for years,” Baughman added. ”We can go days without activity.” And now that Goodyear Hall has been sold as part of the $900 million Goodyear headquarters and East Akron redevelopment project, there is even less reason to keep the establishment going.
A Goodyear committee spent about a year nutting out the optimal way to deal with the museum’s valuable artefacts. ”The group looked at all the options,” Baughman explained. These included relocating the museum and upgrading the existing facility – all of which were agreed to be too costly. Yet while the museum will be closed, Goodyear says many former attractions will again be placed on public view.
The World of Rubber opened in 1948 as a historical exhibit for Goodyear’s 50th anniversary. In late 1999 Goodyear executives announced plans to close the museum, claiming it was old and outdated. But while they relented following employee protests, the company never followed through on revitalisation plans. ”We’re just not in the museum business,” Baughman concluded. Those wishing to visit a tyre manufacturer’s museum on August 29 or later can do so at l’Aventure Michelin in France, which opened earlier this year and is reportedly very good indeed.