In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a legendary motorcycle company was looking to memorialize its rich history. Harley-Davidson, founded in 1903, planned to establish a museum that would educate visitors about their heritage and serve as a gathering place for the dedicated biker community.
A 20-acre industrial complex near the city’s downtown would serve as the location—paying homage to the company’s birthplace and manufacturing legacy. The next task was to incorporate the same historical reflection in the architecture and exhibits. The design of the motorcycles was to serve as inspiration, influencing a sleek and mechanical look while embodying the brand’s adventurous and fun-loving spirit.
Fulfilling all of the designers’ goals, a variety of metal materials throughout the museum now cohesively tie in the timeless biker aesthetic. McNICHOLS® Bar Grating, Wire Mesh and Perforated Metal illustrate Harley-Davidson’s legacy of motorcycle, engine and accessory production with authentic style. Not only do the products reinforce the playful and industrial themes, but they also perform a variety of functions throughout the facility.
Versatile Bar Grating serves several roles throughout the establishment. Operating in a traditional flooring and walkway capacity, the Bar Grating is used as Stair Treads, surfaces for landings, and a suspended pedestrian bridge that connects the museum’s three separate buildings. In vertical applications, the Grating provides guardrails for an observation deck. Lastly, in a show-stopping exhibit, Grating panels are installed at an angle rising from the ground floor. Atop this whimsical ramp, stunt motorcycles appear to be launching into the air.
Perforated Metal is another McNICHOLS item that makes an impact throughout the museum. Primarily utilized in a decorative capacity, these panels furnish accent walls and lighting fixtures. In the museum’s café, powder-coated custom perforated panels clad the walls and elevator area.
The final specialty metal product used at the Milwaukee location is Wire Mesh. Indoors, this versatile item serves in the museum gift shop’s entryway, where it provides a security partition after hours. Outside, Wire Mesh infill panels ensure safety along a walkway that runs along the Menomonee River.
The museum’s location is positioned at the end of a peninsula surrounded by the body of water. Being so near to the river and the elements, the exterior metals needed to be corrosion resistant. Durable Galvanized Steel ensures longevity for the exterior Bar Grating, while the Wire Mesh is protected through its Stainless Steel primary material and a powder coated finish. These nature-resistant items help establish the museum’s unique and informal “ museum on the street ” where visitors can enjoy outdoor events and riders can rally.
In total, the 130,000-square-foot Harley-Davidson Museum houses more than 450 motorcycles and historical items. Since its debut in July 2008, it has quickly become a major landmark and tourist attraction hosting an estimated 300,000 visitors each year. Greatest of all, the museum is a central hub where both longtime bikers and the general public come together to celebrate the brand’s commitment to adventure for over a century.