Remember the excitement of piling into the car and heading out on the open road with family or friends? Whether you got your kicks on Route 66 or Connecticut clam shacks along Route 1, you’ll enjoy a journey through the New Haven Museum’s new exhibition, “Road Trip!” A celebration of the architecture, food and fun found on the byways and back roads of America, the adventure will run through June 17, 2017.
“Road Trip!” focuses on the joy of trading speed and convenience for the excitement of exploration and discovery of the unexpected. In the early 1900s, Americans took to the road in their cars even before a network of hard-surfaced roads existed. According to guest curator Mary Donohue, the fun of the great-American road trip is that the drive is often as important and memorable as the destination. “Road Trip!” includes vintage photos of quirky roadside attractions, souvenirs and mementos crowdsourced from Greater New Haven residents, artifacts from the Connecticut Historical Society, Museum of Connecticut History, the American Diner Museum, and even a 1960s-inspired, turquoise-and-white diner booth, specially built for the exhibit by the New England Seating Company.
The exhibition is anchored by large-scale photos from Richard Longstreth’s book, “Road Trip: Roadside America, From Custard’s Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant,” which served as inspiration for the exhibition. The architectural historian and historic preservationist notes, “My primary concern in photographing the roadside landscape was documentary—to provide a long-term record of places that would soon disappear.” Traveling over 60,000 miles during the 1970s, with the interstate highway system in its final stages of construction, Longstreth raced against time to document the “mom and pop” motels, diners, gas stations and oddball amusements that beckoned along the way.