Nathan Smith, who became the new curator of the California Automobile Museum last October, comes from a long line of car buffs going back to his great-great-grandfather, an early car dealer, and his grandfather, a past president of the Society of Automotive Historians. "We joke that it's genetic in my family and it skips a generation," he observed in an interview in the latest issue of Inside the City (p. 45).
Smith brings to his job a passion for vehicles and an impressive set of credentials: a bachelors in historic preservation and a masters in museum studies. He sees himself as primarily an educator and believes that "through the prism of automotive history, we can explore the cultural, social, technological, aesthetic, economic, and industrial history of our city, state, nation, and world over the last two hundred years."
Currently, the California Automobile Museum is offering three exhibits that ought to interest the car enthusiast and non-enthusiast alike:
Automobilia: November 13, 2010 through Summer 2011. This exhibit is "dedicated to the artistry and influence of Italian auto manufacturing on the world's auto industry and will house a rare and rotating collection of memorable and exotic cars with an Italian pedigree."
Going Green: It's Good for the Planet: Ongoing. "An exhibit displaying and telling the story of clean fuel alternatives." It features a number of electric and fuel cell vehicles.
Dropped and Chopped: Jan. 27 through March 27. "Explore the classic years of traditional [hot] rods and customs between 1946 and 1960, including Sacramento's notable cars and legends such as Dick Bertolucci, George Barris, Harry Westergard and Don Tognotti."
PHOTO CREDIT: 1913 Rauch Lang Electric Vehicle, part of the "Going Green" exhibit. Courtesy California Automobile Museum.