ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford’s museums have been called some of the best in the country and one local man hopes his new museum will become just as popular. Visitors will be able to check out hot rods and muscle cars at the soon to open Rockford Auto Museum.
Before you even get inside the planned Rockford Auto Museum on 518 Walnut Street in downtown, there's plenty to look at. For the last month, artist Corey Hagberg and partner Ryan Lape have been hard at work on 4 murals on the building's exterior.
“Having such a specific process, working from photographs has really challenged my skill and allowed me to work differently with the can, that’s where I’ve gotten the enjoyment and seeing people in the neighborhood appreciate it," says artist Corey Hagberg.
By the time the museum opens in September, 22 cars will be spray painted around the building. On the inside, around 30 cars will be on display, including a few that belong to the museum’s owner David Arthur. Under protective covers for now are his 1979 Trans Am, a 1968 Dodge Charge, and his father’s 1979 Chevelle convertible.
"I've always loved classic cars, it seems like everyone you talk to has a favorite car, guys and gals, and kids and I thought that would be a nice thing for downtown Rockford," says Rockford Auto Museum owner David Arthur.
Arthur says he got the idea a decade ago to open a place like this but couldn’t fund the right spot. When Vecchio’s Signs closed, he decided the time was right. Arthur did some research and found out the building used to be a car dealership in the 1920s and 30s. He is excited to bring it back to its roots and spread his passion for classic cars.
"You know kind of step back into history in the 60s and 70s and see old muscle cars and cars for sale and cars for display."
Whether on display inside or outside, Arthur hopes all the cars at his museum will be another attraction that will lure visitors into downtown. Hagberg and Arthur worked out the design for the murals so as visitors walk around the building, the models change from the 1920s to 1970s. The backgrounds do too, and if you look carefully, you’ll see they’re set in Rockford and can even pick out familiar historic buildings like the Midway Theater.