Yesterday we visited the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee to see the Indiana Jones exhibit. On display until April 30th are two motorcycles ridden by Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
We are not particularly interested in motorcycles, but we had a great time at the 130,000-square-foot museum, which opened in July 2008 and is located near downtown Milwaukee. For more about the museum see my other post about the Harley-Davidson museum.
We arrived at the museum at noon and stayed for about four hours. We picked Thursday for the Museum Gallery Talk about the Indy bikes, which was at 2pm. The talk was a bit simple, but still interesting. If you want to see the bikes and can’t make it to the talk then you should just go and don’t worry about missing the talk. The talk was only 10 minutes.
A member of the Archives staff explained about how the vehicles were prepared for the filming of the 2008 Indiana Jones movie. He tells about the five motorcycles that they gave to Paramount Pictures and how bike builder Justin Kell in California transformed the 2006 Softail Springer Classic models to look like motorcycles from the 1950s. While the frame, engine and transmission remained stock, Kell made many vintage-inspired alternations, including the handlebars, seat, bobbed fenders and ’55-’56 logos applied to a Sportster tank. A fake kick-starter was even added as a finished look.
The studio gave two of the bikes back to Harley-Davidson and both of them are on display at the museum this month. The first Indiana Jones bike is located in the entrance hall. It is the ‘hero’ bike, which was the one used by Harrison and Shia in the shots where you can see there faces. The other bikes were mostly used by the stuntmen.
We weren’t allowed to touch this ‘hero’ bike. At the end of this month this one will go into the Archives, which is a separate large building attached to the museum where over 450 bikes are stored. Hardley-Davidson has kept one copy of every model since 1915. You can peek into the archives storage if you take the elevator to the third floor in the back of the museum:
The second Indiana Jones bike is located at the end of the museum tour, after the design lab. There’s a small corner with some fake “Property of US government” crates where the stunt bike is proudly displayed.
Guests are welcome to sit on this bike for a photo op. You can even dress up as Indy or Mutt with a hat, leather jacket and whip:
Hollywood magic has transformed this 2006 model into a 1950s motorcycle. It’s made to look all dirty and roughed up, but you can’t wipe off that dirt! It’s on there permanently so that all five bikes used for the film look exactly the same.
This second bike is owned by the marketing department of Harley-Davidson and will be used on roadshows after this month.
It was great to see the Indiana Jones bikes, but the museum itself was no less impressive. I’ll post some more pictures of the museum later on.