One of Australia’s longest-running privately owned automotive museums dedicated to the Holden brand, the National Holden Motor Museum in Echuca, Victoria, plans to permanently close its doors on April 14th, 2024 after failing to find a “serious” buyer to take over from its current owners, Tony Galea and Mark Galea.
The museum has been in operation since 1983, or four decades, with the Galeas owning it for thirty of those years. The current collection is made up of 51 vehicles on loan to the museum by their owners and three owned directly by Tony and Mark Galea.
The Galeas say they intend to close the museum because of “burnout” after operating it continuously for three decades. They reached the decision in August 2023 when the owner of the museum building put it up for sale, leaving the Galeas with three years of remaining lease in which to find another location and move, a significant project.
The Galeas said the museum was operating well and is a profitable business, but, in social media posts, remarked that running the Holden museum 360 days per year for decades has “taken a toll on us, physically and mentally.” Tony Galea noted that he wants to spend time with his grandchildren, as well as his parents while they are still alive. The two men were unable to locate a buyer for the museum, leading to the planned closure.
The 51 Holden vehicles on loan to the museum will simply be returned to their owners. The three Holdens owned by the museum will be auctioned off on Saturday, May 18th, 2024 by Burns & Company Auctions. In addition to the cars, the auction will include “motorcycles, signage, genuine GMH fittings, workshop and signage, prototypes, shop stock, display cabinets, model cars” and other items, as well as the museum name itself.
Holden was a mid-19th century saddle-making business that moved into automobiles in 1898. About three decades later, it was acquired by GM in 1931. A small domestic automotive market and competitive pressure from cheaper imported cars eventually eroded Holden’s viability, leading to it ending production of its last model in 2017 and The General retiring the brand in 2020 to 2021.
While the National Holden Motor Museum is Australia’s longest-running museum focused exclusively on the brand, several other museums in Victoria and New South Wales are also dedicated to the automaker and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.