Amazing Bikes: Two Centuries on Two
Wheels, a colorful and comprehensive
exhibition exploring the art and history of the
bicycle, is on view at the Oakland Museum of
California Sept. 11, 1999 through Jan. 30, 2000.
The exhibition traces the development of this
revolutionary invention from European machines
of the mid-1860s through the bicycle's golden
age in the 1890s to today's technically
sophisticated models. Activities and programs
for the whole family accompany the exhibition.
The invention of the bicycle had a revolutionary impact around the world. Considered the first
democratic means of transportation, the bicycle eliminated dependence on the horse and carriage and
allowed people to transport themselves faster and more efficiently. Women benefited from the
enhanced mobility and independence and the rational dress movement spawned by women cyclists.
Technological innovations developed for the bicycle
were later used in production of automobiles and
airplanes. The exhibition will stimulate thinking about
the various social impacts of the bicycle since its
appearance more than a century ago.
The exhibition includes graceful designs ranging from an early pedal-less running machine circa 1820
to French and English velocipedes and safety bicycles, from high-wheelers and balloon-tire bicycles
to road racers and modern California mountain bikes. More than sixty bicycles, dating from the 1860s
to the present, have been selected for the exhibition from the Pryor Dodge and Leon Dixon collections
and from California builders and collectors. Also on exhibit are posters, prints, photographs and
bicycle memorabilia. The art and striking beauty of these machines is a primary theme for the
exhibition, which also explores the social and economic impact of the bicycle beginning with the
Amazing Bikes: Two Centuries on Two Wheels draws from several sources including:
The world-renowned traveling exhibition Bicycles: History, Beauty, Fantasy from the collection
of American collector Pryor Dodge, including 34 significant bicycles from around the world
dating from the 1860s to 1920, prints and photographs, and more than 400 artifacts such as
bicycle lamps, badges, clothing, board games and trophies. The Pryor Dodge Collection has
recently been seen in New York, London and Los Angeles.
Fifteen bicycles from Los Angeles collector Leon Dixon's classic high-pressure, middleweight
and balloon-tired bicycles, along with bicycle posters, artifacts and neon signs from the 1920s to
1960s. Dixon is curator of the National Bicycle History Archive located in southern California.
Prototype mountain bikes developed by California innovators. (The mountain bikes that
evolved into today's vehicles were developed by bike enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay
Recumbent bicycles including the Easy Rider Gold Rush Replica, winner of the DuPont Prize
for being the first human-powered vehicle to surpass 65 miles per hour.
Working bicycles, racing machines and memorabilia, tandems and folding bicycles.
The exhibition includes a resource area where visitors can find information about cycling in Oakland, a
map of East Bay bicycle routes, brochures from local bicycle organizations, a display and video about
Critical Mass, and a community bulletin board for bicycle announcements.
Philip Linhares, Chief Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum of California, is the curator of
Amazing Bikes: Two Centuries on Two Wheels. Among the exhibitions he has curated at the OMCA
are Hot Rods & Customs: The Men & Machines of California's Car Culture and Raymond Saunders:
Recent Work. Inez Brooks-Myers, OMCA Curator of Costume and Textiles, is coordinating curator
for the exhibition. A 217-page illustrated book, The Bicycle, by Pryor Dodge, published by
Flammarion (1996), is available from the museum store.