About the National Automobile Museum
Why We Do It
How it All Began
Our history museum opened in 1989, it was reported to have set the standard for automobile museums around the world. Since then, it has received many accolades and today it is recognized as one of 10 Best Automobile Museums in the U.S.
The idea for this Museum developed following the death Bill Harrah and the museum still exists today thanks to a persuasive public and the generosity of many.
Bill Harrah was a prominent gaming pioneer who founded Harrah’s Hotels and Casinos and the former Harrah’s Automobile Collection. He assembled the largest and most historically significant collection in the world that reached approximately 1,400 vehicles. His legacy lives on at the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection).
After his death in 1978, Holiday Inns purchased Harrah’s Hotels and Casinos and Harrah’s Automobile Collection in 1980.
Following the announcement of plans to sell the collection, there was a tremendous public outcry across Nevada and the nation. Responding to this outcry, Holiday Inns donated 175 cars and the research library to the future nonprofit museum. At the time, it was the largest corporate philanthropic gift in our nation’s history.
Holidays Inns sold the balance of the Harrah collection, the majority at spectacular, record-setting auctions in 1984, 1985 and 1986, as well as through private sales.
With generous donations from the City of Reno Redevelopment Agency, the State of Nevada, and many individuals and organizations, this Museum opened on November 5, 1989, with much fanfare and national and international publicity.
We invite you to be part of our museum. Please join us in preserving a remarkable collection and sharing our passion for telling the story of one of the most significant inventions in our country’s history…the stories of invention and innovation, the people behind the wheel, fascinating adventures and the impact of the automobile on our lives. The fabric of our culture has changed and changed again, but nothing has affected our society as deeply as the automobile.
Whether you are a student aspiring towards a career in technology, a business person who loves history and cultural attractions, or a couple looking for an awesome wedding venue, we have something for each of you at our Reno history museum. Become a member today!