I received a call some 30 years ago from my good friend Ken Hofmann. “Gallagher,” he said, “I’ve just made a substantial philanthropic donation to my friend Ken Behring’s museum. I want you to go check out how they’re doing special events at the Behring Museums at Blackhawk. I’m concerned.”
In 1988, Kenneth Behring and Don Williams founded the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, California. It was established through a partnership with the University of California at Berkeley to ensure that significant automotive treasures would be exhibited for public enjoyment and educational enrichment.
Well, I didn’t waste any time and started my investigation of the museum events. Two weekends later – with a few late nights, I reported to Mr. Hofmann at 7:00 am at the Hofmann Company. I asked him, “Do you want the good news first or the bad news?” “Give me the good news first.” “Ken,” I continued, “I can see the Museums at Blackhawk becoming the premiere events facility in the Greater Bay Area and Northern California – 90,000 square feet of opulent luxury. Now, it’s time for the bad news. It has no kitchen! The Museums need special event supervision, bars, a gourmet kitchen, luxury smallwares, a sound system, and theater lighting.” A partnership was formed immediately between the Museums at Blackhawk and Scott’s.
While putting together my plan for the museum event center, I was introduced to the second Ken – Ken Behring. “Raymond, it’s all about image,” said Mr. Behring. “I want everything to be first class – over the top.” $750,000 later with a lot of hard work and planning, the Museums at Blackhawk now have a gourmet kitchen, state of the art light and sound systems, and all the bells and whistles required for this prestigious venue. It can now accommodate a casual cocktail reception with dancing for 1000 attendees; a successful fundraiser with revenue generating auction tables for 700 guests; or an “intimate” formal seated event for 500 of your closest family members and friends.
As my partnership grew into a friendship with Mr. Behring and his family, I was able to participate in the growth of the Museum. It is now a world-class museum blending art, technology, history and education. It has changing exhibitions representing topics of transportation, culture and science as they relate to our society; and docent-led tours can be enjoyed in 90,000 square feet of opulent luxury. Permanent exhibits include the Automotive Gallery, Spirit of the Old West, Into China, Art of Africa, and the new Natural History gallery.
In 2000, Mr. Behring established the Wheelchair Foundation with a goal of delivering wheelchairs to people in need around the world. It is through this work that he found “joy” and “purpose” in life. Mr. Behring, his family, and supportive friends have delivered more than one million wheelchairs to people in more than 150 countries. With the Foundation, I had the great opportunity to travel the world and to meet kings and queens, presidents and first ladies and to assist in the Foundation’s mission to give the gifts of “Hope, Mobility and Freedom” to every person in the world who may need a wheelchair.
Mr. Behring’s legacy is thriving through the actions of his wife, Patricia Behring – Chairwoman of the Friends of the Blackhawk Museum; his sons, David Behring – President of the Wheelchair Foundation and Jeff Behring – Founder of Wine for Wheels; and business partners Steve Beinke – President of the Behring Global Educational Foundation, Don Williams – Director of the Museums at Blackhawk and Charli Butterfield – Director of the Behring Global Educational Foundation.
“The Two Kens” are no longer with us; however, their guidance and inspiration live on at the Museums at Blackhawk. Thirty years later it continues to be the finest special events facility in the Bay Area and Northern California. Scott’s is proud to be the exclusive catering concessionaire as we work together to continue to makes improvements in people’s lives through education, philanthropy and special events. When guests attend catered functions in the Museums’ private dining spaces not only are they guests at a world-class event center, they are able to visit an award-winning museum and explore carefully curated exhibits.
So, all is well at the Blackhawk Museums and for Scott’s. Please contact Gina Longmire at 925/381-8076. She is ready to help you plan a “first class” event at Mr. Behring’s Contra Costa premiere showcase and special event center – The Museums at Blackhawk.
Remember … Everything’s going to be alright!
Founder, Scott’s Restaurants, Since 1976