Local man donates antique car collection to museum


First Posted: 1/31/2009

Fifty years ago John Canosa fell in love with five antique cars that his uncle brought him from Paris, France one of those being a 1769 steamer car.
He still has that miniature car today along with almost 3,800 others hes collected since he was 7 years old.
And at least 3,000 of his cars are being donated to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History as part of its new third story exhibit which will have three main galleries, a storage room and an adjoining office.
Ive enjoyed the collection but now its time for others to enjoy it as well, Canosa, 57, said.
The collection includes a variety of model cars matchstick size and larger dating from the 17th century to modern day. They are being placed in seven glass wall cabinets circling the large gallery in chronological order of the years the cars were created. Before reaching that collection, the entry level of the gallery from the elevator will introduce guests to a traveling exhibit that includes two Ford T Models from 1926, which Canosa said fits along with the collection.
He said he thinks the cars will garner the interest of both men and children, and also prod the curiosity of children to find out what else is in the museum.
Its amazing how many people who live here have never been to this museum. This is a nice museum for a town this size, he said.
Linda Blue Stanfield, the director of the museum, said shes excited about the installation of the new exhibit, adding that it ties in with the overall theme of the Museum.
Were pleased that Mr. Canosa would consider the museum as a repository to have such an outstanding collection of model cars and trucks. They represent years and years of collecting, and children and adults will be mesmerized by the sheer number in his collection. Theyre so many unique vehicles, you look and look and you see more and more different kinds, you can see the timeline in the vehicles, even in the way the museum is set up, she said.
The museum is arranged as a progressive journey on each floor level that starts from foot travel to horseback and wagon to train, continuing on the third floor with the automobile and industrial age. Essentially, the museum exhibits are a trip through time, continuing on the same story which starts at the first floor.
Whether people realize it or not, there is a different mode of transportation on each floor, once a person reaches the third floor where the automobile has arrived, Stanfield said, adding that the gallery also will include childrens activities. You have the childrens taxi, the little handyman truck that children can pretend to drive and play in, there will be other things as well in the play station.
Since last week Canosa has been delivering portions of the car collection to set up in the exhibit and he estimated that it would take about a month to complete.
Canosa didnt want to put an exact dollar amount of the collection, which is estimated to be worth several thousand, but said it was time to make his private collection available for others to see.
I want others to get the enjoyment out of it that Ive had, said Canosa, who works at Surrey Bank and Trust, adding that he still collects cars and might add to the Museums exhibit periodically.
The third level, which the museum began renovation constructions on in late 2007, is slated to open its exhibits, including the car collection, in late spring or summer, Stanfield said.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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