Thursday, October 1, 2020

Critical Times Need Critical Support

How is the Northwest Railway Museum handling the pandemic?  This is arguably the most difficult period in the Museum's 63 year history, and continued community support is critical to recovery.  Notwithstanding, the Museum has used the closure to perform upgrades.  Exhibits, artifacts, and even publications are getting attention, and we are confident the Museum’s audience will see and appreciate the difference.

Notably, The Museum's publication, The Sounder, was redesigned in an effort led by Lee Ater of LOT22.  The changes bring the newsletter into line with branding standards, easier to produce and make it more visually interesting.

Meanwhile, with the expectations for reopening the Museum came an opportunity to upgrade exhibits. This resulted in more interpretive content, and transformed the hall into a more visually-interesting experience, both of which are vital to attracting and retaining an audience.

Sadly, many pandemic-related orders are affecting the Museum in truly negative ways.  The continuing prohibition on events is particularly damaging because it devastates both audience and income.  And even if events were permitted in King County, they would be limited to just 50 people. Unfortunately, none of the Museum’s events are economically viable when serving smaller groups.

The Museum is unable to host Halloween or Santa Train this year. However, we are improvising, and hope you will attend our alternative Safe Start activities! Beginning October 3, the Museum will operate regular train ride excursions, using  social distancing practices, most weekends through the end of the year.  At Halloween and during the Christmas season, trains will operate with appropriate holiday themes such as the Yuletide Express, but guests will remain on board for the duration of their visit.  We know this may not be to everyone’s liking, but it does appear to be the Museum’s best practical alternative that keeps staff, volunteers and visitors safe, and complies with the law. 

Externally, we sadly share that the pandemic has been particularly difficult for all museums. The Bellingham Railway Museum closed its doors in March, and it was soon apparent that it would never reopen. NRM staff and volunteers worked with their officers and former staff to ensure their collection is preserved, and remains in the public domain. Over the summer the collection was boxed up and moved to Snoqualmie. Their beloved Lionel 027 layout has been reassembled in the Train Shed, and will soon be operational. We extend our heart-felt condolences to their staff and volunteers for their loss—closing a museum is heart-breaking.

Your Support is Critical

We wish to thank you for your continued support during these uncertain times. The Northwest Railway Museum is dynamic and successful in part because of people just like you. Now, during the Covid-19 crisis, we need your support more than ever. Please consider helping to sustain the Museum in any of the following ways:

Visit to find out how you can help.

Not everything about 2020 has been negative. The happiest news of the year remains the success of steam locomotive 924. Despite challenges, the 924 has successfully operated under its own power this year. Like the chapel car 5 project before it, the 924 work generated more questions than expected, but the skillful dedication of museum volunteers and staff have allowed work to continue. We hope you will be able to join us for the first run this fall—check for updates.

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