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 Post subject: Re: Gold Coast Railroad Museum Selling Equipment?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:25 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 434
Location: Oroville, CA
Back in the 1990s the big debate among museums was smoke & mirrors or not (static displays, or entertaining displays--"interpretive" was the buzz word--still is, for that matter). Nowadays it is assumed the museum will provide some entertainment to attract (and keep) visitors.
Part of this change is the reality of the change in the world today. People today are used to instant information, and rather "plush" living. We are so far removed today from life we had in the 1950s that it is in reality, a New World out there. As an example, the house I grew up in would today likely get my parents reported to child protective services--and we were considered upper middle class. Don't believe the house was that bad? in our house you didn't have to go outside to figure which way the wind was blowing, just wet your finger and hold it up, it was that drafty.
So, the points of reference we grew up with no longer exist for younger people today, and their use of "free time" has so many opportunities making it even harder to attract folks to your facility. And once there, they don't want to see what they perceive as a Large Junkyard. The place has to look attractive to non-railroad equipment oriented folks. Many railroad museums started in left-over facilities which by their very nature were already "rugged industrial" settings. It won't be easy, but it can be done.
Figuring out what you can realistically care for, and what tells your story is mostly what the collections guidelines are all about. Deciding to develop the guidelines based on what you have on hand, or what you'd like to have on hand is part of the process. Likely the results will be a combination of both ideas. In any case, the long term survival of the artifacts should be the guiding concern. You don't want to see the collection become scrap metal. The "if we can't have it, no one can" philosophy does NOT belong in the museum field.
There are no easy answers, it will take hard work on the part of everyone and sometimes a lot of self examination of what we want to leave the next generations.

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David Dewey
Hoping for the return to the American Rivers of the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!


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 Post subject: Re: Gold Coast Railroad Museum Selling Equipment?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:43 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1087
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Dave wrote:
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
I think it’s better to look at what you have and try to use it to the best of your ability.


Absolutely wrong. You don't build your mission based on what you have cluttering up the place, you choose the mission based on an unmet perceived need you want to fill and tailor the collection to do that job and that job only. Everything else is offered to others who might have a legitimate use based on their chosen mission.




Dave is correct on the point of how a museum builds its mission and manages its collection. The problem was that when many collections were developed, it was basically a race to save items from the scrapper. Now that that threat is gone and museum technology has advanced, the railroad museums must evolve or face the probability of disappearing. Society has changed and we must change to maintain our relevancy in today's world. The better run museums are now reviewing their collections and disposing of items that do not meet their mission statements or goals.

My museum is going through that process now. We scrapped a PCC car body as it did not meet our operational needs, mission statement and no prospective buyer could be identified. Our collection does not guide our mission or mission statement-our mission and mission statement guide our collection. We do not acquire items that do not fall within the guidelines established by our mission and mission statement. Rationalization of collections is important if we are to operate as true museums and not dumping grounds. We are working to cosmetically restore items as we recognize that visitors are unimpressed by items that look like junk. IRM does an excellent job of keeping unrestored items out of the public view. Our museum also operates as a venue for events as another manner to bring in income. Other museums (most notably the California State Railroad Museum) do that. I attended a banquet dinner held in the roundhouse-that was a memorable event.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Gold Coast Railroad Museum Selling Equipment?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:26 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 695
Alan, I appreciate your thoughts, you make some good points. I don’t fully agree with you, but that’s what make the world go around.

The pendulum swings and collecting everything remotely rail related when there is limited space and resources is probably not the best... but I also think scrapping historic equipment because it doesn’t fit the current interpretation of the current version of a mission statement might be a bit far as well. As I said, I think there is a balance.

What is the mission of the old Pueblo trolley?


I don’t think anyone is saying there is anything wrong with using your space as an event venue. But scrapping equipment or selling it off so you can focus on being an event venue is a big stretch in any non-profit mission statement imho.


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 Post subject: Re: Gold Coast Railroad Museum Selling Equipment?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1087
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Well, our mission is to preserve Arizona transportation history. That said, the Muni streetcar clearly did not fall within the scope of our mission. Our collections policy was slightly more accommodating for the street railway, considering that at the time we were looking for any streetcar that might be made operable. None of the cars that we operated in service were US made, other than No. 10 which was leased from OERM. Basically the Muni car was a parts source that outlived its usefulness. The other reasons the car was scrapped was that it was located at an outlying location that had to be cleared immediately, there was no space for it at the new campus and moving it would have cost money. Having no reasonable prospect of selling it or disposing of it, scrapping was the only option and even that was harder than in the past. Current scrapped steel prices are so low, if you're scrapping steel you almost have to pay the scrap man to haul it away.

Our acquisition policy for our bus/motor vehicle permanent collection is much more specific. To be acquired for the permanent collection, the vehicle must have a documented Arizona service history. Buses that do not have a documented Arizona service history may be added to the permanent collection only if they represent a specific model of bus that operated in Arizona, for which no surviving original vehicles are known to exist. We have approximately forty vehicles in the permanent collection.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Gold Coast Railroad Museum Selling Equipment?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:16 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 695
That makes sense Alan. Do you have another PCC car in the collection? (I’m not even sure if pcc cars operated in Arizona?).

These are very real situations that we all need to consider in the preservation world. For me, it’s always hard to think of anything getting scrapped but obviously you can’t save everything!


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 Post subject: Re: Gold Coast Railroad Museum Selling Equipment?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1087
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Yeah. We have a Toronto PCC. Rather than fooling around with altering the gauge on its trucks, we took the ones off the Muni car and put them under the Toronto car. Problem is, the way SunLink designed the line there's only a loop at one end and half the stations are left hand boarding only. That and we're now uncertain about operating on the SunLink line at all, so it's just sitting in our shop. Literally, the only monetary value it has as a complete car is scrap. As I previously mentioned, scrap prices are so bad that you would literally have to pay the scrap man to take it-not that we intend to do that.

The other problem is the market for used streetcars. It's flooded with PCCs to the extent that you can't give them away. Everyone that wants one has what they need.

No PCCs ever operated in Arizona, but every native Arizona streetcar we've come across is either literally falling apart or a house. There's one that we're going to talk to the owner about that's here in Tucson and there's one near the Phoenix airport that is "inside" a house-totally enclosed. The only Arizona streetcar we have is the earthly remains of one Phoenix streetcar. If we took the strapping off it, it would literally fall apart-it's literally nothing than a frame. The one in town had the permanent house built on to it. It wouldn't require much work to separate it and truck it off. Only thing is we'd have to replace the rooms that were in it and that would involve permitting and possibly upgrading the house wiring to current code.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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