What the Museum did, in turn, was even more unexpected than the sinkhole itself. The Museum turned the misfortune into a tourist attraction.
"We started with a Plexiglas viewing window so guests could see the construction going on inside the Skydome, and eventually the recovery of the Corvettes," said Katie Frassinelli, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Museum. "We always had one web cam available inside the Skydome, and due to the growing interest and popularity we added two more so our online visitors could get additional angles to view what was going on."
The interest in the damaged Corvettes continued to grow as did the Museum's attendance, so much so that the Museum decided to leave the sinkhole for the summer, and delay construction until after their 20th Anniversary Celebration August 27-30. "We have about 6,500 Corvette enthusiasts from all over the world pre-registered for our event so far, and many of them have expressed an interest in seeing the damaged cars as well as the sinkhole. Determining the best method for repairing it and getting bids on the construction work has been a time consuming process also. In the grand scheme of things, we felt it would be best to delay construction a few months to give all of our visitors the opportunity to see it."
Attendance at the Museum since February has been up nearly 50 percent over the same time period in 2013. Many guests have expressed that while they came to see the sinkhole and damaged cars, they were pleasantly surprised by the rest of the facility and Corvette displays.
"Driving up I-65, I saw the sign for the museum and decided to make a stop but had fairly low expectations given it was a roadside attraction. I was pleasantly surprised by the facility; it was very modern, well themed, professional staff, and it was much larger than I expected with a gift shop and restaurant," wrote Mark Byrn of Orlando, Florida in a Trip Advisor review. "Even more impressive was the fact that the museum suffered extensive damage from a sinkhole, and they turned a negative into a positive by making the sinkhole into an attraction of sorts and displayed the Corvettes that were heavily damaged. Overall I was very happy to have made the stop."
The Museum is awaiting price estimates on the various options to repair the Skydome, from keeping all of the sinkhole, to leaving just a small portion of it, to restoring the building to the way it was before. The Museum's board of directors is scheduled to convene June 25 to review the proposals and options on both the building and the "Great 8" Corvettes, and make a decision on the plans moving forward.
The Corvettes that are not restored will be kept on display in the Museum's Skydome, as part of preserving and telling the story of the Feb. 12 sinkhole collapse.
Given the recent boost in attendance, the Museum is expected to hit its 3 millionth visitor within the coming days. As of May 31, 2014 the Museum has recorded 2,995,655 visitors since its Grand Opening September 1994. In celebration of the milestone, the Museum will be awarding their 3 millionth visitor with a special "Walk of Fame" engraved sidewalk brick with their name, one-year membership to the Museum, $10 Corvette Cafe gift certificate, $50 Corvette Store gift card, Flint Brick and article in the Museum's membership magazine, "America's Sports Car."The Museum is located at I-65, exit 28 in Bowling Green, Ky., just one hour north of Nashville, Tenn., and less than two hours south of Louisville, Ky. Open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CT, admission to the Museum is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 65 and over, $5 for kids age 6-16 and children age 5 and under are free. Access to view the sinkhole is included with regular admission. Guests who enter the Skydome to view the sinkhole must be age 8 or older. For more information on the Museum, visit their website at www.corvettemuseum.org or call (800) 538-3883.
Information provided by National Corvette Museum
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