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Bottled Up No Longer: Coke Museum to Move

Schmidt's Coca-Cola Museum, Elizabethtown, KY, plans to move to a new building designed by a fancy pants world-renowned architect by the year 2000. The world's largest private collection of Coke memorabilia will relocate to a building with 40,000 square feet of exhibit space. The current museum, part of the old bottling plant, is less than one-fifth that size, and can display only a small percentage of the 100,000 items in the collection.

The inventory includes everything from fin de siecle calendars, bottling equipment and trays, to late 20th century items, which have been accumulated over the last 25 years by Bill and Jan Schmidt (owners of the Elizabethtown Coca-Cola bottling plant) at advertising shows, auctions, conventions, and from individual collections. Stored elsewhere throughout the plant are, among other things, neon signs worthy of Times Square, vending machines of every vintage, and a collection of nine historic vehicles adorned with Coca-Cola logos.

The architect, Frank Gehry, has been acclaimed for his designs for art museums and other havens of the rich and cultured. He is a virtual unknown in the field of roadside attractions and offbeat museums, but a Kentucky Tourism Development official believes Schimdt's is "destined to become one of Kentucky's top tourism attractions."

The current museum, which opened in 1977, is located on U.S. 31W, five miles from the I-65 north of Elizabethtown. The new museum will be built right along the interstate.

Closed April 2011.

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