The Sloan Museum of Discovery in Flint and General Motors recently announced a partnership that will honor the legacy of General Motors founder William “Billy” C. Durant, while supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) of the museum.
Thanks to a $500,000 donation from GM, the Sloan Museum’s new vehicle gallery will be named The Durant Gallery when it opens in July. Flint is the birthplace of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, which paved the way for the auto industry and GM. This donation is in addition to a $1 million grant awarded in 2018 to support the gallery’s STEM educational programs.
“Billy Durant was a fearless visionary who boldly seized opportunity wherever he found it and changed the automotive industry forever,” said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors. “His spirit has remained an inspiration to GM for more than a century and lives on as we lead the global auto industry into an exciting new era powered by electricity.”
The Sloan Museum has 105 rare and antique vehicles among its collections of nearly 48,000 artifacts, including Durant’s first model carriage – a two-wheeled horse-drawn buggy made of white ash. The new vehicle gallery will be 11,000 square feet and feature rotating vehicles showcasing the history and future of the automobile.
“Naming the gallery after Billy Durant came out of a series of conversations we had with General Motors about the early days of the company and how Sloan preserves that history. We have many pieces of history old GM car in our artifact collections, including one of the first road carts built by Durant,” said Todd Slisher, executive director of the Sloan Museum and CEO of the Flint Institute of Science and History, the nonprofit profit that oversees the museum.
“It’s an amazing way to commemorate the man who made Flint ‘vehicle town’, who helped found brands like Buick and Chevrolet and brought them under the GM umbrella. GM’s generous donation will allow us to build on our existing STEM exhibits and programs that flow into the experiences of the new Sloan Museum of Discovery,” Slisher said.
General Motors has made significant capital investments in the community where the company was founded more than a century ago. This includes significant upgrades to its Flint Assembly and Flint Engine operations and the Durant-Dort Factory One restoration as well as more than 37 grants to local nonprofits totaling more than $5.2 million over the past five years. last years.
Billy Durant formed the Flint Road Cart Company in 1886 after buying a two-wheeled buggy business and its new patented spring suspension for $1,500. Durant and his partner, J. Dallas Dort, transformed the carriage company into the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, which eventually paved the way for one of the world’s largest automakers, General Motors.
After nearly five years of planning and construction, the new Sloan Museum of Discovery will open its doors to the public on Saturday, July 16. In addition to the Durant Gallery, it will include an early learning gallery called Hagerman Street, Discovery Hall, a hands-on science gallery, a community history gallery, learning labs and much more. .
The museum’s $30 million expansion and renovation has been reimagined as an inclusive center for the entire community. To learn more, visit SloanLongway.org/Sloan.