Jeep has manufactured its off-roaders in Toledo since the 1940s, and local enthusiasts have spent years seeking a way to bring a museum to the town. Randy Oostra, the president and CEO of health care company ProMedica, played an instrumental role in making the museum happen, according to the Toledo Blade. He floated the original idea, and it quickly received the support of FCA leadership.
"They've been incredibly involved with all the planning. They want to be involved with future decisions and the board," Oostra told the Blade. He added FCA could help fund the project.
Funding is key; Oostra won't settle for putting a couple of vintage Jeep models in a dusty warehouse and calling it a day. His team is drawing inspiration from the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and from the Chevrolet Corvette museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to allow visitors to immerse themselves in Jeep's vast heritage. He notably envisions interactive exhibits.
"When you think about all of the opportunities, whether it's history, what's happened in automotive, World War II, they use Jeeps in 'Jurassic Park,' and then you look at engineering and design, and production and art, you begin to think about it from a whole variety of opportunities," he explained.
It sounds like dinosaurs, soldiers, and off-roading will all be on the menu. The Jeep Experience will be housed in an existing, 56,000-square-foot building located in metropolitan Toledo, but its exact address won't be announced until Oostra's nonprofit closes the deal. And, while Toledo is well off the tourist circuit, museum planners expect to attract approximately 250,000 visitors annually.
Robin Whitney, ProMedica's chief strategic planning, business development, and real estate officer revealed the group will offer basic food services. We love the idea of a Jeep-themed restaurant. It's also open to building a hotel next to the property if needed. All told, the museum will create 25 jobs in the Toledo area, though that number could grow depending on the amenities offered.
Oostra and his team still have several hurdles to clear before they can give fans the opportunity to learn about the CJ-5 (pictured) by jumping one on a muddy off-road trail a stone's throw from where Jeep makes the Wrangler and the Gladiator. They've launched a fund-raising campaign expected to last for approximately a year and a half. Design work will begin in early 2021, which is also when planners will begin assembling cars, and the museum is tentatively scheduled to welcome its first visitors by the end of 2022. Oostra promised the building will receive a striking design.