It’s the summer of “the hog” at Long Island museums. Vintage Harley-Davidsons and other classic motorcycles — including a 1970s off-road model prized by Elvis Presley — are revving up interactive exhibitions geared to easy riders of all ages.
A half-dozen vintage Harleys — known as “hogs” to generations of motorcyclists — are among the 20 motorcycles new to the annual exhibition at Ward Melville Heritage Organization Educational & Cultural Center. It’s a look-and-sometimes-touch show featuring a 1937 Harley-Davidson and sidecar, for sitting on and picture taking.
The Long Island Children’s Museum’s summer exhibition features Harley video games and a kid-size dealership where youngsters can design a hog of their own. Here are nuts-and-bolts details for both exhibitions running through early September.
The 1,200-square-foot traveling exhibition, which originated at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee lets kids feel the wind in their hair on the open road — albeit virtually.
Stationary Harleys provide a virtual ride through a video countryside accompanied by roaring throttle sound effects. In a simulated Harley dealership that’s also part of the exhibition, kids can use spare parts to create Road-King-inspired cycles. There’s also a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) element: an engineering lab includes tracks, ramps and loops, motion- and data-tracking software and a design area for physics experiments at a simulated skate park or roller coaster.
“It’s a nice way to give kids a little bit of lessons without making it feel like spinach and broccoli in the summer,” says Maureen Mangan, communications director at the Garden City museum. Visitors also learn that Harley’s nickname comes from an early motorcycle racer’s habit of taking the team’s pet piglet on victory laps.
HARLEYS AND MORE
Ward Melville’s annual exhibition of 30 motorcycles has been freshened up with 20 new bikes loaned from private collections and area dealerships.
“Some of the new additions this summer are rare collectible motorcycles that aren’t often seen outside of a museum,” says curator Stephanie Ruales.
One of the new additions is also the oldest bike in the collection, a 1902 Rambler. One of the earliest manufactured motorcycles, the Rambler “was offered as a supplement to the bicycle,” Ruales says.
Also new here is a 1920s Privateer Racer custom built by Gene Baron, who in 1960 founded the first Harley-Davidson dealership on Long Island.
The hogs on display also include 1948 and 1949 Harley-Davidson FLs, two 1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH models and a factory customized 1976 Harley-Davidson Super Glide FXE.
Enthusiasts can also check out vintage Indian, Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and BMW motorcycles, and a 1975 Rupp Centaur, a model owned by the King of Rock and Roll.
“It was designed to deliver the fun of a motorcycle with the practicality of an economy car,” Ruales says. “One of the most famous owners of the machine was Elvis Presley."
Motorcycles Through Time
WHEN | WHERE Through Sept. 5, Ward Melville Heritage Organization Educational and Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook
INFO 631-689-5888, wmho.org
ADMISSION $7 ($5 younger than 12)
WHEN | WHERE Through Sept. 2, Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City
INFO 516-224-5800, licm.org
MORE FOR BIKE LOVERS
Want an updated trip to hog heaven? Miracle Mile Harley-Davidson in Great Neck stops by with two or three of its latest models at Oyster Bay Cruise Nights, held summer Tuesdays on downtown streets. For vintage thrills, drop by Billy Joel’s 20th Century Cycles, where the Long Island music legend’s bike collection, including classic Harleys, is displayed. Admission is free. (101 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay)