Located in Naples, Florida, The Revs Institute is a mind boggling tribute to the automobile. It exists, in their words, for ‘Elevating the study of the auto.’ And elevate they do. The 80,000 square foot facility was purpose-built and, again in their words, ‘dedicated to achieving world-class excellence.' Mission accomplished.
While visitors will certainly be blown away by The Collier Collection … over 100 influential cars… the facility also includes a private archive and research library comprised of over a million original documents and 20,000 book titles. All available to serious researchers both on-site and online. This includes books, periodicals, over 700,000 photographic images and ephemera.
And if that weren’t enough, there is a Revs program at Stanford University. The program is an academic interdisciplinary project that focuses on the automobile as a technical, industrial and aesthetic human achievement, as well as a social change agent and powerful historical force. You can learn more about the Revs Stanford program at revs.standford.edu.
But lets get down to the most visual feature of Revs, The Collier Collection. This was my mission for today’s outing… and the only disappointment was I hadn’t allotted enough time.
I had heard about the Collier Collection when I first moved to the area, but getting access seemed to be a well kept secret. Every lead ultimately fizzeld out. Then just recently, Tom Reusse, a gentleman and friend who runs a local photo club, invited a few of us to visit The Revs Institute… all of a sudden, everything fell into place. Finally, The Collier Collection had found a home and a safe and secure way to present itself to the public.
For obvious reasons, the collection takes up a large portion of the 80,000 square foot facility. It’s on three floors and is divided into four group exhibits:
AUTOMOBILITY: The Car. The Road and Modern Life
VITESSE: Sports Motoring and Motoring Sports
PORSCHE: Designed to Excel
REVS: Racing Cars and Racing Men
Trust me… while every important car might not be represented, every car represented is important. The New York Times recently declared this the finest sports car collection in a America. You can view quite a few of the cars on the Revs’ website at http://http://revsinstitute.org/the-collection/
Every detail of Revs raises the bar. The lighting, the displays and, most importantly, the access is a feast for the senses. There are no barriers to prevent you from standing toe to tire with the very first Porche 550-01, Clark Gable’s short-chassis 1935 Duesenberg SSJ or the very first Ferrari race car to be imported to the United States. The experience is like no other.
I arrived armed with two Leica rangefinders, an M (240) and an M9… one mounted with a 35mm and the other with a 90mm. I had originally planned on shooting only in black and white…. that was until I came face-to-face with the #23 Martini Racing 1971 Porsche 917…. and the best part, it was unrestored. Oh my. For three hours I roamed around. There were times I didn’t know where to look first. The word incredible falls short.
I’ll definitely be going back. I think I could easily spend an hour photographing each car.
Visiting hours are 10am-4pm, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All visitors must reserve tickets for specific dates and times in advance. Regrettably, walk up visitors cannot be accommodated. Reserve tickets online, or call (239) 687-REVS
For now, here is a humble offering of what I saw today. Enjoy.