Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Humanizing Railway History

Connecting history to modern lives is a challenge for museums.  Museum interpreters carefully look for ways to engage and interact with visitors' wide-range of interests, backgrounds and cultures. For some it’s the love of railroads and machinery that draws them here, especially when they can “talk train” with knowledgeable people. Then there are others (the majority of visitors) who are looking for a family experience, and the Museum is simply a “neat place to take an old-fashioned train excursion and see the top of Snoqualmie Falls with the kids.”  And others fall between these two groups. So how does the Museum address all of the varied interests and ages?
One common denominator lies in the “humanization” of history. All of us can relate to being a real person. And when that side of railway history is presented, it leads to learning fun without knowing that learning is happening! Recent exhibits include historic photos with people in them.  What the people of the past wore, their expressions, their stance all let visitors connect to the fact that these were real people who lived the railroading experience in one way or another. Giving visitors something they’re familiar with, even though different, allows them to make a connection to the past while making comparisons with their current lives.  The new Northern Pacific Railway Stewardess exhibit, along with firsthand looks inside the Chapel Car and Bunk car offer a glimpse of how railroading isn’t just about the technology, but about real people and how the railroad impacted their lives.
Periodically, we bring real humans into the humanization experience through living history programs where visitors speak with, listen to, watch and engage re-enactors portraying passengers of earlier times. For instance, a living history piece has been added during School train.  Students are greeted by an actor in Edwardian-era clothing. During the presentation, they learn about the passengers of that era – their clothing, luggage and “quiet” toys that children riding the trains may have had. A highlight is dressing a girl and boy from each class in period clothing. Afterwards, the students are invited to handle the clothing and try the historic toys themselves. When the light goes on about how early 20th century train travel is different from their modern lives, it’s magical.  They never considered how those everyday items tied into railroad history! And now those simple ordinary items opened up a new understanding of how the railroad changed everything.
All of these techniques engage Northwest Railway Museum visitors in different ways to keep the history alive, but none of these are possible without the Museum’s members and donors who allow funding of new programs and exhibits to occur along with running and restoring the artifacts. So as we move closer to the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG date on Tuesday May 3, please consider scheduling your GiveBIG donation to ensure more programming growth at the Northwest Railway! Remember, every little bit helps. And if you’re curious to see some of this firsthand, ride the May 1, 11 am train for the Groundbreaking of the Railway Education Center and you never know who you might run into on the train…

-Guest blog by Marketing Manager Peggy Barchi

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

GiveBIG May 3rd - or schedule today!

GiveBIG May 3rd 2016
The annual GiveBIG day of charitable giving is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3rd.  Your support for the Northwest Railway Museum will expand public access and improve programs.  That will mean more opportunities to visit the exhibit building, and better public access to collections.   

GeoPiers are being installed
to support the foundation for
the Railway Education Center
GiveBIG is taking place May 3rd, but donors can schedule their gift anytime between now and May 3rd!  Supporters who visit the Seattle Foundation web site here can complete the donation form, and use their credit card to schedule a GiveBIG donation.  Then, on May 3rd, their donation will be automatically processed and credited to the Northwest Railway Museum.  Scheduled donations will also receive a partial match from the stretch pool!

Artist's rendering of the new Railway
Education Center, now under construction.
Specifically, GiveBIG support will be used to complete the Railway Education Center, now under construction in Snoqualmie.  This project will allow weekday visitation to the exhibit building; provide a preservation vault for photographs, drawings, and other paper-based materials; build classroom space; open a collection lab; expand the parking lot for public use; and construct public restrooms so almost no one ever has to wait.

GiveBIG 2016 is an initiative of the Seattle Foundation, and this is the fifth year the Northwest Railway Museum has participated.  More than 16,000 donors are expected to participate this year with opportunities to support projects such as the Railway Education Center beginning at $10.  All contributions are eligible for a partial match with a share of the stretch pool.  Why not schedule your GiveBIG donation today?  Click here to start to process.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Enhancing Train Shed Programs

The Northwest Railway Museum recently completed and installed the Train Shed Tour Package Enhancement. This project, installed in time for the regular train season to kick off on April 2, was funded by a 4Culture Heritage Special Projects grant.

The grant funded improvements to the Tour Package program, but is actually benefiting everyone who rides the train since ~ new this season ~ almost all trains now stop and let passengers off for a visit to the Train Shed. Improvements include purchase and large format printing of historic images used to illustrate various pieces of rolling stock on display in the Train Shed. Curator Jessie Cunningham found images that showed the inside of freight and passenger cars to better illustrate the use of such cars. The grant also purchased easels for displaying the images as well as two voice boosters to help docents project their voices during the Tour Package.

The large format images have received a great response since the beginning of the season. The Tour Package is available on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month, April thru October, at 12:30pm at the Snoqualmie Depot. The Tour Package includes a short Depot tour, train ride to the Train Shed (ahead of the general public riding the train), Docent tour of the Train Shed, and new this year, the Tour Package also includes a trip to the CRC to view the ongoing restoration projects! After re-boarding the train, participants enjoy a train ride to Snoqualmie Falls and back to Snoqualmie. The round trip program is 2.5 hours long and is great for train and history enthusiasts that are looking for a more educational or informative experience. Reservations can be made in the Depot Bookstore or by phone at 425/888-3030 x 7202.

For those who cannot take a train ride or the Tour Package, the images will be on display in the Snoqualmie Depot freight room within the next week. The Depot is open 10am to 5pm daily.

The Museum is grateful to 4Culture for supporting our programming with this Special Projects grant! 4Culture, the cultural services agency for King County, Washington is committed to making our region stronger by supporting citizens and groups who preserve our shared heritage, and create arts and cultural opportunities for residents and visitors. The Northwest Railway Museum has received a great deal of support and funding, both large and small, from 4Culture over the years.
Stock car unloading cows.

Crew relax inside their caboose.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Not just a train ride anymore . . .

In its 49th year of public programs, the Northwest Railway Museum has made a significant change to its excursion railway operating plan.  Beginning in April 2016, all regular trains stop at the Train Shed Exhibit Building for passengers to take a self-guided tour.  It's not just a train ride anymore!

The Museum has been developing the Railway History Center campus for more than 10 years.  Located on Stone Quarry Road in Snoqualmie, the campus will feature all the Museum's critical facilities including visitor services, an exhibit hall, collection storage, and collection care.  Given the building permit, zoning, and public safety requirements, this is a multi million dollar development.  However, there is some great news: the initial development is nearing completion with the third phase now under construction.  So it's time to open the exhibit building to the public!

The new regular train schedule features a two hour excursion.  Passengers board in Snoqualmie, travel to North Bend, then return to the Railway History Center where they have an opportunity to detrain and take a self-guiding tour of the Train Shed Exhibit Building.  The 30 minute visit is an opportunity to see chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace, White River locomotive 1 and caboose 001, exhibits that detail how the railroad changed everything, and more.  Then, passengers entrain to continue their excursion to Snoqualmie Falls, and a return to the Snoqualmie Depot.  A similar schedule also departs the North Bend Depot.

Still want more??? Take the Train Shed Tour Package on the first and third Saturdays at 12:30 PM.  A docent-led tour will also include a visit to the Conservation and Restoration Center where you will learn about the rehabilitation of former Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924.

Check out fares and schedules here on the Museum's web site.  Please note that the new operating schedule is in effect through October, but does not apply on Mother's Day or Father's Day weekends, or during Day Out With Thomas, Snoqualmie Railroad Days or Santa Train.  Visit the Northwest Railway Museum for a completely new experience, because it isn't just a train ride anymore!