The Only Harley Davidson Museum
Can you believe there’s only one Harley-Davidson Museum in the world? A lifestyle brand that huge, and its history is contained inside this museum complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you’re a Harley enthusiast, this should be your mecca. In fact, perhaps you’ve already been here. They have motorcycle rallies and Bike Nights all the time. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Let’s say, they have them a lot.
The building is impressive even from the outside. Chrome shines in the large bike parking lot that goes right up to the Harley-Davidson Museum doors. Front and center. Those bikes belong there. They’re home.
Harley Davidson’s Trademarked Rev
For those of us who have never ridden a Harley, (or for everyone who can never get enough of the Harley experience) there is a motorcycle sitting right outside the entrance. You can line up to take a turn revving up the engine while you sit on the distinctive design of a Harley-Davidson and listen to the trademarked sound of its deep, rumbling purr of the engine.
And that’s just outside. Wait til you get inside the museum!
History of Harley Davidson
The history of this innovative motor-cycle and the motivation behind the men who invented it is captured with a replica of the cabin where they built their first model, the gradual renditions that built through the decades to magnificent machines that are as much about the prestige of the model as the experience riding it can provide.
There are models that were ridden by Evel Knievel, Elvis Presley, and the motorcycles from Easy Rider.
There is an archive room only accessible by people on certain tours, but all visitors to the museum are welcome to take a peek at this fenced off warehouse space where every Harley you can imagine is locked up on shelves with everything Harley. You just can’t go in. (And trust me, you’ll want to.)
I have so many friends that are bikers. Both women and men. I wonder what they’d make of the museum. It seems like a place that would reach them in a deep part of their soul. I enjoyed it for the aesthetics and the history of something I knew very little about. But…
I’d love to know how it feels to connect with the machines in this museum as someone who rides. If you’ve been there, please tell!
Glad you had a good time in my hometown! Milwaukee has a lot to offer!
You’re telling me! I loved Milwaukee!
Was this your first visit?
Yes, and I’ll definitely be back!
WHAT? Only one in the world? I guess i thought there would be more, but that seems pretty cool. Not sure I’d love it as much as a biker person, but I’d definitely be interested in the history.
I thought there would be more HD museums, too! But, nope. This is where it all began. The museum is a beautiful mecca for motorcycle enthusiasts. I feel like the bikes make their own way there. 😉
So, it sounds like if you visit the Harley Museum, you need to plan ahead and get on one of the tours that takes you into the archive room. Did you take one?
I did not. They are only offered on certain days and it wasn’t the day that I was there. Like you said, plan accordingly so you can get a behind-the-scenes look. I’ll bet it’s fascinating.
I was like…hey, I know that place! We never went there to see the Harley’s though. There was a really fantastic beer festival we went to every year. Haven’t been back to Milwaukee since we moved to Portland a few years ago…nice to see pix, and we’ll be visiting in a couple of months.
So many good beers and beer festivals in Milwaukee! The MOTOR Restaurant attached to the Harley-Davidson Museum is nice, too. Worth the trip for anyone interested in motorcycles.
Are you paying homage to THE Ohio State University with the emphasis in the title? Go Bucks. Two more weeks.
I love the evolution of motorcycles. They started so simple and utilitarian and evolved into beautiful, powerful machines. I am not sure about putting my V-twin 135 degrees out of phase. I think it makes a lot of sense to set your twins in line so that you can balance the vibration, but all of that doesn’t detract from how beautiful these bikes are.
Haha. I was slightly paying homage to OSU but only because it’s so fitting here, since this is THE (meaning, the one & only) Harley-Davidson Museum. You’re absolutely right about them starting small and utilitarian. It truly was a motor-bike. Or motor-cycle.
The closest I’ve come to a Harley Davidson is when I ate at the Harley Davidson Cafe in Times Square when I was 13… haha. This museum seems much more my speed (pun intended). I love that you can sit on a motorcycle and feel all badass 🙂 Great post!
Thanks, Julianne. Yes — the motorcycle experience outside was a great way to get your motor revving for all that’s contained inside. 😉
I have only seen the Harley Davidson cafe in Las Vegas. I didn’t know there’s a museum! I am not a biker myself, but it would be cool to see the collection of motorcycles throughout the years!
Yes. There is such a vast collection there. But the Harleys are very distinct, I think, from other makes.
I’m not like a huge Harley fan but I really like motorcycles and looking at them so I’d probably like this haha. I’ve actually been wanting to get my license and my own motorcycle and do like an epic motorcycle road trip.
Wow! You go, Southern Gypsy! I love the idea of it, but I’ll stick with cars.
This is a heaven for boys! I’m not into bike but would love to learn about the history of Harley Davidson too!
The history was fascinating. You can trace it through the progression of the bikes. Harley-Davidson was much more integral to American history than I realized.
I so want to do one of those classes they have for women! It would be fun to learn how to ride. This is such a great an American brand!
My friend Nikki is an instructor. In fact, I know several women who ride together. I’m not sure if they ride Harleys, but they love hitting the open road!
What a cool museum! There’s so much history behind motor cycles, I watch American Pickers and it always surprises me the culture behind cycling and demand for memorabilia 🙂
Oh my gosh. I can only imagine!!! That’s what I love about collections.
Love the bike culture though I’ve never ridden and wouldn’t have the first clue about the machines. I can imagine the HD Museum is brilliant for the bikers themselves.
I like the culture, too, even if I don’t especially want to ride myself. Make sense? I respect those that do.
I’ve never seen that many HD’s all in one space! The closest I got to one was.. seeing it on the highway while driving lol. I thought there would be more than one HD Museum in the world, guess I’ll have to go there if I wanna revv an engine!
Yes, it’s probably not something you’d see just anywhere in the world. But there are pockets of Harley riders all over the U.S., so it’s not that unusual. Especially when you see how invasive Harley-Davidson was in 20th century America.
I didn’t know this museum existed! 🙂 My father-in-law is a big bike enthusiast. I should definitely tell him about this place. Deserves a bike road trip!
Oh, I hope you do! It should be on any bike enthusiast’s dream list.
I went here a few years back and it was cool even though I’m not a motorcycle person. They did not have the bike outside that you can sit on and rev the engine – that sounds fun!
You’ll have to stop by if you’re in Milwaukee again. And stop in MOTOR to eat.