The museum is operated by the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS). The Crawford Auto Aviation Collection is the centerpiece of this major exhibition. Setting the World in Motion explores the impact of auto and aviation technologies on Northeast Ohio during the first half of the 20th Century. The Crawford Auto Aviation Collection represents Northeast Ohio's vital role in transportation history. WRHS collects and preserves these historically and technically important automobiles, aircraft, bicycles, motorcycles, related accessories and Automotive Marque Files to illustrate the development and contributions of Northeast Ohio to the history of transportation state-wide, nationally and internationally.
The museum showcases various phases of an automobile’s development. There are more than 140 antique automobiles. In addition, there are twenty-one non-car transportation artifacts, ten aircraft, and three carriages and sleighs. The museum was started, nearly by accident, by Cleveland industrialist Fredrick Crawford when he bought a car that was set to be discarded following a 1936/37 expo event in Cleveland.
Crawford added to his collection over time and displayed it for the public beginning in 1943. It was then one of the earliest car museums in the country. In 1963 Crawford transferred his collection to the Western Reserve Historical Society. A new building was built to house the collection, and the Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum officially opened on Sept. 11, 1965.