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Chrysler's museum to close

by Andrew Ganz

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Michigan will shut down at the end of 2012.

Chrysler's status as the only American automaker to have its own open-to-the-public museum dedicated solely to its vehicles will change at the end of this year when the Walter P. Chrysler Museum shuts down.

The museum has been a major money-loser for Chrysler, which plans to open it only for special events in the future. Last year, the museum lost $657,510, but Hemmings reports that it was in the red a staggering $5.4 million as recently as 2008.

Despite being located on Chrysler's corporate campus in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the museum is currently run as a separate company, a move the automaker made in late 2007 when it realized bankruptcy was imminent. As a result, the automaker will buy back its heritage collection and exhibits, although it's unclear whether this will be a transaction involving actual sums of money.

The non-profit Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation will be folded into the larger Chrysler Foundation.

The museum opened in late 1999 as a showpiece for Chrysler's heritage. The three-story (plus basement), 55,000 square foot facility has always been stuffed to the gills with products from Chrysler's past, including vehicles from defunct brands acquired by Chrysler and its predecessors.

Cross-town rival Ford Motor Company's collection is housed in the much larger Henry Ford museum. General Motors' heritage collection is not open to the general public.

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