Our Mission

The mission of the Blackhawk Museum is to stimulate interest and understanding of art, culture, and history. Through exhibitions and programming we engage, educate, and inspire.

Our Story

The Blackhawk Museum was established in 1988 as The Behring Auto Museum, an architectural jewel housing over a hundred unique automobiles from the dawn of motoring through the golden age of classic coachwork. Located in the California’s east bay, at the foot of Mt. Diablo, the Museum instantly become one of the elite car museums in the world.

In 1991 the Museum expanded in scope and size with the addition of a second building and a partnership with the University of California. Entitled the Art, Science, Culture and History Building, consisting of two unique galleries and showcasing anything from paleontology to artwork, it was host to many temporary exhibitions on a diverse range of topics.

The Museum became affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution in 2000, celebrating with the “Smithsonian Treasures” exhibition, showcasing myriad national artifacts. Throughout the affiliation, the Museum would host traveling exhibitions from the Smithsonian on topics ranging from the sinking of the Titanic, Broadway musicals and Women of the Twentieth Century. In 2003, the main gallery in the Art, Science, Culture and History Building became a home for the Wheelchair Foundation’s gallery. (The Blackhawk Museum is no longer a Smithsonian Affiliate)

A significant change occurred in 2015 with “The Spirit of the Old West” replacing the automotive gallery on the third floor of the original Museum building. This exhibition presents a balanced narrative of Native Americans and American settlers—depicting their challenges, their successes and failures, their way of life.

The latest evolution of Blackhawk Museum began in 2017 with the introduction of “The Art of Africa” gallery and the reimagining of the Art, Science, Culture and History Building. With renovations due for completion in 2019, the “Into China” gallery will open early in the Spring followed by the “Natural History” gallery in the Fall.

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The Journey Begins - 1973

Ken Behring Aquires 4800 Acres

Date: 1973

In 1973, Florida real estate developer Ken Behring acquired 4800 acres of the original Blackhawk Ranch, founded in 1917.

Ken Behring Meets Don Williams

Date: 1982

Blackhawk Automotive Museum came about from a meeting in Arizona between car collector Don Williams and Ken Behring in 1982.

Museum Construction

Date: 1986

Blackhawk Museums during construction.

Blackhawk Musuem Opens

Date: August 1988

Blackhawk Automotive Museum opened August 1988

Blackhawk Plaza Completed

Date: 1991

The Museums at Blackhawk & The Shops at Blackhawk were completed in 1991.