Saturday, February 28, 2015

Learning from others

Main entrance to America's Car
Museum in Tacoma.
On Saturday, February 28, 2015, the Northwest Railway Museum's Board and Staff took a trip to Tacoma, the City of Destiny.  There, they visited America's Car Museum and the Fort Nisqually Hudson's Bay Company fort.

The Board of Trustees and Museum Staff are responsible for the governance and management of the Northwest Railway Museum.  Measuring efficacy requires benchmarks, but also a commitment to at least considering new ideas.  Periodically, there are organized efforts for Trustees and Staff to experience programs, and learn about policies and practices at other institutions.  This allows the Train Museum's leaders to maintain a working knowledge of best practices, and to see the best new ideas at other institutions.  There is certainly a "fun factor" in visiting and exploring other museums, but it is a lot of work, too.

Scot Keller leads a tour.
Scot Keller is Chief Curator of the Lemay Museum, best known as America's Car Museum.  He gave a talk and tour of this national collection where he focused on his work with consultants in developing exhibits. The trustees and staff learned about the car museum's development efforts, exhibit philosophy, and the process of building this new museum that is located right next to the Tacoma Dome.  The museum - the foundation of which is the Lemay collection - is truly a underrated gem and was well-worth the visit for the Trustees and Staff.  It was an educational experience for the Train Museum leaders, and one most will repeat with their families.
Collections care is performed on the first floor with a fully equipped auto shop.
Stanley Steamer - a steam-powered automobile!
An early Ford F series truck.
Auto colors of the fifties were often seen inside passenger trains too
Main entry for Fort Nisqually.
Next, the Train Museum leaders traveled to Point Defiance, a unit of Tacoma's Metro Parks to visit a living history exhibit.  The Fort Nisqually Hudson's Bay Company fort includes both original and replica structures, though the original site is in Dupont.  It represents this fur trade center as it operated between 1832 and 1869, an important chapter in Washington's history.  It is also emblematic of the era just prior to what the Northwest Railway Museum interprets, when the railroad arrived in Washington territory.  Re-enactors operate a small blacksmith shop, perform as an HBC employee in the trading post, and tend the Chief Trader's home.  This too is an valuable experience for the Train Museum leaders, and worthy of a family visit.

Checkers anyone?
One of the original structures moved to Point Defiance Park in 1935.
The Fort Nisqually exhibit includes a blacksmith demonstration.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sound Cities Association visit

Posing with locomotive 1 are (L to R) Don Gerend (Sammamish
Councilmember, SCA Treasurer), Matt Larson (Snoqualmie Mayor
& SCA President), Amy Walen (Kirkland Mayor, SCA Board Member),
Dennis Higgins (Kent Councilmember, SCA Board Member), Bernie
Talmas (Woodinville Mayor & SCA Public Issues Committee (PIC)
Chair), Bill Allison (Maple Valley Mayor, SCA Board Member),
Nancy Backus (Auburn Mayor & SCA Vice President), Chris Eggen
(Shoreline Deputy Mayor, SCA Board Member), Deanna Dawson
(SCA Executive Director).
Excitement is building on the Railway History Center campus.  The announcement of the new Railway Education Center, innovative partnerships between the Museum and regional communities, and the beginnings of a sustainable steam locomotive program are just a few of the topics generating interest.

A recent inquiry came from the Sound Cities Association ("SCA").  Snoqualmie's Mayor Matt Larson is this year's SCA President so it was natural that he would host a meeting.  Mayor Larson requested a lunchtime tour so elected officials from other communities could learn more about what Snoqualmie has to offer.  So a handful of regional leaders rode in the Spokane, Portland and Seattle coach 218 from city hall to the Train Shed.  There, they were able to visit icons including chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace and Weyerhaeuser Timber locomotive 1, and learn about the partnership between the Museum and Snoqualmie that allowed the campus to develop.  The guests were also able to make time to visit the Conservation and Restoration Center where they viewed rehabilitation progress on steam locomotive 924, and rehabilitation work underway on Spokane, Portland and Seattle coach 276.

Welcome to Snoqualmie, Mayors and Councilmembers!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Railway Education Center

This Miller|Hull illustration superimposes the new Railway Education Center
design rendering adjacent to the existing Train Shed and main track at the
Railway History Center.  (Click on the illustration to view a larger version.)
The Northwest Railway Museum is preparing for construction of the third building on the Railway History Center campus in Snoqualmie.  The Railway Education Center ("REC") will incorporate 4,940 square feet and include a library with archival vault, classroom, and public restrooms.  It will be located directly adjacent to the Train Shed exhibit building to provide for year 'round public visitation.
The REC is more than a library, classroom, and restrooms.  It will incorporate office and work space for collections staff.  It will include a reading room for researchers.  A small gift shop will provide an outlet for published rail-themed books.  There will be a ticket office where visitors will be able to purchase train tickets and admission tickets for the Train Shed tours.

The distinctly Northwest design was developed by the award-winning Miller|Hull Partnership. A sampling of sustainable design features include the use of primarily locally-sourced materials, high R values for insulation, LED lighting, windows to take advantage of natural light to the greatest extent possible, and a heat pump to provide heating and cooling.  Construction is planned for spring 2015 and will take up to 12 months.
The Railway History Center is located approximate one rail mile east of the Snoqualmie Depot.  The campus design was developed in 2007 by a design consortium including the Miller|Hull Partnership, Outdoor Studio, KPFF Consulting Engineers.  Funding sources include individual contributions, private foundations, the Washington State Historical Society Heritage Capital Projects Fund, and 4Culture. Your contribution can make a huge impact!  Please consider supporting construction of the Railway Education Center with a contribution using the Museum's online donation page here.