Cars as Art – 3 Nashville Exhibits You Must See!

Car enthusiasts and art lovers, get ready for 3 stunning displays of artistically designed cars. These exhibits will run for a few months, so you’ve got some time to schedule your trips to the Frist and to Lane Motor Museum.

1. Bellissima! at the Frist

After World War II, Italian automobile designers began to create sleek, low-slung berlinettas (coupes) that would win races and inspire a legion of stunning road-going cars.

1954 Alfa Romeo BAT 7 from the Blackhawk Collection. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt,

The Italian coach builders also worked with carmakers in England, Spain, and the United States. American manufacturers like Nash, Hudson, Cadillac, and Chrysler hired Italian designers to build a series of dramatically modern concept cars, including Firebirds and Firearrows. Their so-called “Forward Look” styling intrigued American buyers and influenced production models for years to come.

1955 Chrysler Ghia Gilda. Collection of Scott Grundfor and Kathleen Redmond. Photograph © 2016 Michael Furman,

At this amazing exhibit, you’ll get to see 19 automobiles and 3 motorcycles from private collections and museums. These cars are among the finest examples of Italian automotive design.

Watch as the cars are rolled into the Frist!

Here are some of what you’ll see: Alfa Romeo, Bizzarrini, Ducati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati, and the ultra-rare Alfa Romeo BAT models 5, 7 and 9 from the 1950s and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO!

1955 Lincoln Indianapolis. Collection of James E. Petersen, Jr. Photograph © 2016 Michael Furman,
1955 Alfa Romeo BAT 9. The Blackhawk Collection. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt,

May 27–October 9, 2016
Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 244-3340

  • Frist Center members FREE
  • Adults $12.00
  • College Students with ID $9.00
  • Seniors (65 and older) $9.00
  • Active Military (current military ID) $7.00
  • Groups of 10+ (advance reservation) $10.00
  • 18 years and younger FREE

Bellissima! and Macchine Italiane will both be on display from May 27, 2016, through October 9, 2016. Both Lane and the Frist are offering reciprocal admission discounts:

  • Receive 50% off all adult prices at the Lane by showing a Frist Center admission ticket through October 10, 2016.
  • Receive 50% off all adult prices at the Frist by showing an admission receipt from the Lane through October 9, 2016.
  • Members of either the Frist or Lane will receive free admission at both museums when membership cards are presented.

2. Macchine Italiane at Lane Motor Museum

Macchine Italiane: A Tour of Italy’s Motoring Spirit is a look at Italy’s love affair with the automobile. You’ll get to see the affordable Fiat 500, the exotic Lamborghini Urraco, and lots of interesting cars in between.

Lamborghini-Urraco-P300 1976
1976 Lamborghini Urraco P300. Image:

This exhibit features over three dozen vehicles including race cars, motorcycles, and even bicycles that show Italian design and engineering from 1936-2012. All vehicles in this exhibit are from the collection of Lane Motor Museum.

In addition to the items included in Macchine Italiane, museum visitors can enjoy over 120 other unique vehicles, primarily from Europe and Asia that are rarely seen in the U.S.

1936 Fiat 500A Coupe “Topolino”. Image:

May 27, 2016–May 22, 2017
Macchine Italiane

Lane Motor Museum
702 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN, 37210
(615) 742-7445

  • Members FREE
  • Adults (18-64) $12
  • Seniors (65+) $8
  • Youth (6-17) $3
  • Age 5 & Under FREE


3. Bavarian Birthday at Lane Motor Museum

Also at Lane Motor Museum, you’ll be able to wish BMW a Happy 100th Birthday! See this exhibit that features BMW cars and motorcycles from the 1920s into the modern era.

1963 BMW 3200S Sedan. Image:

Pulled from both the museum’s collection as well as borrowing from local enthusiasts, the exhibit will show the evolution of the brand, how BMW became so popular in America, and where they are headed in their next century.

1958 BMW Isetta 300. Image:

The BMW exhibit will run from March 10, 2016 until March 6, 2017.

Bonus: Dymaxion and Helicron at Lane Motor Museum

While you’re at Lane Motor Museum, see if you can get a look at these two inventive vehicles – the 1933 Dymaxion replica, and the 1932 Helicron.

1933 Dymaxion Replica

Auto Week said this about the Dymaxion: “The Lane Motor Museum’s Dymaxion car replica is the scariest thing we’ve ever driven.” That convinces us, we’ll just ogle it in the museum!

1933 Dymaxion replica
1933 Dymaxion replica. Photo by David Yando,

Three Dymaxion Cars were produced between 1933 and 1934 by famed futuristic visionary Buckminster Fuller. The Dymaxions were legendary for being far ahead of their time in both design and technology. The three-wheeled Dymaxions, powered by a Ford V-8 engine, could achieve 30 mpg and carry up to 11 passengers. They were teardrop-shaped for aerodynamic efficiency and could reach speeds of 90 mph. Also, they featured front wheel drive, a rear mounted engine, and rear wheel steering.

The sole remaining, non-running, original Dymaxion rests at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV. Now, thanks to a dedicated team of restorers and mechanics, Lane Motor Museum has one of their own.

1932 Helicron

Constructed in 1932, this one-of-a-kind, propeller driven car was discovered in a barn in France in 2000, having been placed there by the original owner in the late 1930s. Apparently, propeller-driven cars were a “thing” at that time in France.

1932 Helicron, French propeller-driven automobile. Image:

I’m sure you’ll enjoy these interesting, unusual, and artistic cars, whether you’re an automobile enthusiast or just someone who loves art in all its forms. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

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