HOLLAND — After years of going out to gather used bikes to be fixed and sold at his shop, Recovery Bike Shop owner Brent Fuqua witnessed the same phenomenon repeatedly: Someone would gather bikes and keep them as a private collection, but once the collector died, the family would sell the collection off and the small museums and pieces of history vanished.
One year ago, Fuqua purchased property at 2504 Central Ave. NE and considered creating a public bike museum in the property’s extra space. Fuqua brought the idea to his friend and dedicated bike collector Juston Anderson, and the Cycling Museum of Minnesota was born.
“It dawned on me right away that this needed to be something that owned itself and that needed to be set up from the beginning to exist into future generations well beyond when we’re all standing here,” Fuqua said.
Anderson was the first to contribute to the museum’s collection after showing some of his antique bikes at the State Fair last year. Fuqua says the project has gone seamlessly ever since.
“That’s part of the indicators for us that it’s really the right thing to do. It seems like everywhere we take a step forward to, the heavens kind of open,” he said.
Nina Clark, who has worked in museums and cultural centers for nearly twenty years, got involved in the museum after receiving an email from the Minnesota Historical Society. She now serves as the secretary of the board for the Cycling Museum of Minnesota.
Clark said all great museums have a great story to tell and the story of cycling in Minneapolis is important.
“You don’t have to do a lot of digging to find evidence of how important cycling was as the city was forming 110, 115 years ago. It has everything to do with what we see around the lakes, around the parks, the Grand Rounds system — and then (we) come to find there were a lot of bike shops here on Central Avenue 100 years ago,” Clark said.
The museum aims to showcase many different facets of cycling ranging from racing to bike messengers. Its goal is also to pay tribute to the collectors and others who work to preserve the history and culture of cycling, especially in Minnesota.
“We’re not about supplanting the work that other people are doing; we’re about augmenting that,” Clark said.
There are five pop-up exhibits in the works right now. “Everybody Rides” will be centered on the world’s collective participation in bicycling. “The Race is On” will showcase bike racing and feature a bike from the Optum Pro Cycling Team. “Minnesota Made,” will feature many different vintage bikes made in Minnesota, including a bike from one of the first messengers in the Minnesota Bike Messenger Association and the prototype fat bike from Surly Bikes based in Minneapolis. “Good Roads” will highlight the impact cyclists had on the Good Roads Movement, which transitioned the country to paved roads at the turn of the last century. “The Biking Life" will aim to motivate people to ride more in the future.
“Cycling is something we all feel really passionate about going forward, and there are issues around environmental sustainability, there’s issues around health and fitness, there’s issues around transit infrastructure, saving money — I mean, there’s just all kinds of social issues,” Clark said.
Currently the project has a board of directors and a collections management policy with the Minnesota Historical Society to ensure the collection does not get out of control. The Northeast Community Development Corporation is fiscally sponsoring the museum until it becomes an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.