Pennsylvania Rail Museum Gets Critical $5M
By Marie Wilson
Friday, June 4, 2010
More than 40 pieces of Pennsylvania’s railroad history are deteriorating from sun, rain, snow and wind as they sit outside the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Lancaster County.
But $5 million from Gov. Ed Rendell’s office will help build an indoor facility to house the artifacts.
“That kind of money will certainly enable it to be upgraded and attract a much larger audience,” said Arthur Ziegler, president of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. “That’s good for Pennsylvania particularly — not only because it’s a nostalgic interest in railroads and a historic interest in how they served the country, but railroads are on the way back.”
Design of a roundhouse — an indoor shelter for locomotives — will require about $500,000 of the money released Thursday, said Charles Fox, museum director. The remainder will go toward design and construction of an interpretive exhibit to better explain the commonwealth’s railroad history.
The focus of the exhibit’s redesign is not to acquire artifacts but, instead, to better connect the railroad industry’s past to the present, said Kirk Wilson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
“It is important to the future of the railroad and to be able to tell an aspect of Pennsylvania history,” Wilson said.
The museum hired Gerard Hilferty and Associates, an Ohio-based museum design company, to redesign the internal exhibit, Wilson said. Hiring a design company is the next step in constructing the roundhouse.
“We don’t want it to be all about the machines,” Fox said. “It’s a way to tie it all together into a comprehensive story and to make it about people.”