H-D Museum Displays The Helmet Project

October 26, 2009
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Helmets: Against ‘em or for ‘em you can’t ignore ‘em.
Alex De Angelis crashes on the second corner of the first lap - 2009 MotoGP Misano
MotoGP rider Alex De Angelis demonstrates the importance of a good motorcycle helmet the hard way.

These words were tweeted by the curators of the Harley-Davidson Museum to promote its latest display called The Helmet Project. The exhibit, in honor of this staple of motorcycle safety that often becomes an object of controversy, opened Friday and will be on display through Nov. 8.

The Helmet Project is a joint venture between the H-D Museum and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). The project enlisted the services of 100 art and design students, 10 faculty members and plenty of the Museum’s staff to create a display about the history of helmets using artifacts from the H-D Museum’s archives. In addition, students were asked to ‘deconstruct the conventional notion of a helmet and re-envision its function and meaning through art and design that pushes visual and conceptual boundaries.’ Students used out-of-the-box thinking to create helmets out of wax, steel, and even vinyl, making intriguing sculptures that combine art with the art of protection. The MIAD students were also responsible for putting the show together, from marketing to making the exhibit.

H-D Museum
The Harley-Davidson Museum has teamed up with the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design for The Helmet Project.

“Harley-Davidson is renowned for its iconic motorcycle designs – both the industrial design of the motorcycle and the artistic design of distinct paint, graphics, parts and accessories,” said the H-D Museum’s Curatorial Director, Jim Fricke. “The Helmet Project was expressly developed to create an ambitious college-wide project focusing on art and design – skills that are very important to Harley-Davidson. Our rewarding partnership with MIAD has resulted in an exhibition that is informative, bold and fun and will interest fans of art and design, history, motorcycling, and pop culture.”
Under the project leadership of Fricke, the MIAD students were able to create a ‘dynamic history of helmets and address the debate surrounding the helmet relative to motorcycling and other sports.’ The Harley-Davidson Museum specifically challenged MIAD Sculpture, Integrated Studio Arts and Industrial Design students ‘to react to and extend the rich history of helmet design.’ The project also targeted Interior Architecture + Design and Communication Design students ‘to design, fabricate and install the exhibit.’

Rossi was sporting a special donkey helmet for his home GP.
When it comes to motorcycle helmets, MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi always comes up with some of the craziest graphics for his lids.

In addition to The Helmet Project, there is a headdress activity area where visitors can create their own helmet art at the ‘ever-evolving helmet display.’ There’s also a ‘Doodle Your Noodle’ design station where kids can create their own ‘mini’ helmet to take home with them. A special panelist discussion will be held this Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. called “Inside The Helmet Project” and will provide insight into the history of helmets and recant stories about the two-month collaborative project from MIAD, the H-D Museum and industry expert panelists.
The Helmet Project is set up in the Garage exhibition space just west of the Museum building. The Harley-Davidson Museum sits at 400 West Canal Street in downtown Milwaukee, on the corner of 6th and Canal Streets. Admission to The Helmet Project is included with the ticket price to the Museum.

MIAD is Wisconsin’s only college that caters exclusively to the education of professional artists and designers. The school was founded in 1974 and awards a bachelor of fine arts degree in 11 majors.

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