About Us

The National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) was selected by AutoWeek magazine as one of America’s Five Greatest Automobile Museums in March 2012. The Museum had already been on AutoWeek’s list of the “Sixteen Best” automobile museums in the world. In addition, when the Museum opened in 1989, it was reported to have set the standard for auto museums worldwide with its extensive collection and innovative design.

Along with our nearly two million visitors, we invite you to explore our collection of more than 200 exceptional vehicles. You’ll see vintage, classic and special interest automobiles, rare and one-of-a-kind wonders, dynamic race cars and one of the finest Horseless Carriage collections in the world. The majority of our cars are from the world-famous collection of the late Bill Harrah.

You’ll travel through time like few other places and discover a story around every curve. Stroll down our authentic street scenes beginning with the turn-of-the-20th century. Explore galleries of cars, memorabilia and special exhibits that change throughout the year. Enjoy audio or daily guided tours, story boards and theatre presentations. Be sure to shop in our Museum Store for gifts for family and friends, and the perfect mementos for remembering your experience at the Museum.

For your convenience, the Museum is open every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Our Purpose and Mission

We are dedicated to offering entertaining and educational experiences through special programs, exhibits, events and stories about our collections.  We foster the theory that learning can be fun for both adults and children.

The Museum was formed solely for educational purposes and is a nonprofit, 501(c)3, tax-exempt corporation. 

The mission of the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) is to collect and preserve the automobile for future generations, with an emphasis on vehicles collected by William Fisk "Bill" Harrah, to tell the story of the impact of the automobile on American society, and to perpetuate the legacy of Mr. Harrah as a renowned collector. 

Our Organization – Governance and Operation

The Museum is governed by an active Board of Trustees and is proud that 100% of the Trustees give annually to our various fund raising efforts.  Several are major donors. The Executive Director has been at the helm since 1992 and began her career in collector cars at Harrah’s Automobile Collection. Many donors and members have been long-time supporters, and many others join their ranks each year. 

The Museum is self-sustaining.  In addition to funds from operations (admission and retail sales, memberships, banquets, etc.), it relies on donations, grants and sponsorships like other nonprofits.  The Museum is not owned, affiliated or supported by any other organization or entity. 

The Museum continues to grow thanks to the generosity of donors, who believe in our mission.  Donors contribute important funding to enhance the museum’s operational resources, programs, activities and endowment, and gift of automobiles and artifacts. 

How It All Began

The idea for this Museum developed following the death Bill Harrah and the Museum exists today thanks to a persuasive public and the generosity of many.

Bill Harrah was a prominent gaming pioneer who founded Harrah’s Hotels and Casinos and the former Harrah’s Automobile Collection.  He assembled the largest and most historically significant collection in the world that reached approximately 1,400 vehicles.  His legacy lives on at the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection). 

After his death in 1978, Holiday Inns purchased Harrah’s Hotels and Casinos and Harrah’s Automobile Collection in 1980. 

Following the announcement of plans to sell the collection, there was tremendous public outcry across Nevada and the nation. Responding to this outcry, Holiday Inns donated 175 cars and the research library to the future nonprofit museum.  At the time, it was the largest corporate philanthropic gift in our nation’s history.

Holidays Inns sold the balance of the Harrah collection, the majority at spectacular, record-setting auctions in 1984, 1985 and 1986, as well as private sales. 

With generous donations from the City of Reno Redevelopment Agency, the State of Nevada, and many individuals and organizations, this Museum opened on November 5, 1989.