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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 4:55 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:05 pm
Posts: 710
Location: MA
First thing is what is there for kids to do at your Railroad Museum? The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum has a
BRIO train set and a HOn3 layout and a Lionel set kids can run by holding in a buttion as well as some kids train books and coloring. Despite this small simple low-cost setup we've had parents physically drag their kids away. I even overheard a little girl crying saying "I don't want to leave I like it here." For the kids AND adults we have a Telegraph setup and a trolley bell you can ring (pull cord setup such a height that kids need to be lifted up to pull it, that's ensuring that it's done in moderation). We also have a caboose to explore with sighns encouraging people to open doors and panels and figure out what certain things do. Another group you may want to target is couples looking for stuff to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:36 pm 
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One regional museum I visited had a fairly large and level model railroad layout with several operating trains and scenery around the perimeter and the center of the table. The trains were equipped with cameras and telemetry to television monitors to give engineer and passenger like views as they ran around the layout. At the time I visited the room with the layout was full of people, with a large number of children present. Probably more people in the train room than in all the rest of the building.

Available model railroad structures and equipment can also be used to build very nice dioramas of steam and diesel locomotive servicing facilities, an aspect of railroad operations that is sparsely covered in many museums. There is also a lot of excellent catalog art from the early and mid 1900s that can be used as supporting material for such displays. This could provide an opportunity to work cooperatively with the local model railroad clubs or the NMRA region, thus introducing more people with an interest in railroads to the museum.

In the early 1950s, EMD had a very large "O" scale cutaway model of a diesel locomotive shop facility that they transported to trade shows. The locomotives inside were General Models (later All-Nation Line) F3's and switchers. The machinery in the shop was Comet Authenticast factory planning models of machine tools that were offered in the early post-WW2 era. Unfortunately as is the case with so many of the EMD display models, it did not get preserved or donated to a museum.

PC

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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:07 pm 
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Location: MA
You also need to have a good balance between guided tour and letting people just see what they want to see. The worst railroad museum has ever been to was one of those paid to get a tour of our junk yard. I could tell that the people including myself we're bored of the whole presentation and there's a little kid acting up because he too was probably impatient. It didn't help that this Museum was also in the bad part of a neighborhood with a lot of abonded buildings.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:17 pm 

Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 6:30 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Illinois
Hi,

I have some suggestions regarding this topic:

Twice a year, I set up an HO scale model railroad at two train shows in the area, and at one of them I present a slideshow on historic railroad depots in Illinois. I've noticed over the past two to three years that the main thing people are looking for is a hands on experience. Countless times I've been asked by kids ranging from toddlers to early teens if they can come behind the table and operate one of my trains. Last year, the local N scale club built a small Lionel layout for kids to operate at shows and it was a big hit (one of the trains was used so much that the locomotive broke!) Interactive displays are the number one attention grabber and I would highly recommend them to any museum that does not currently have one.

However, even that will not bring in everyone.

Being 15 years old, I can tell you that the hardest group to get attention from are people in my age range (10-20). The age of electronics has caused a lot of people to lose interest in museums and in my entire school with over 1,000 students, only two people that I know of are into trains. IMHO, the best way to attract the attention of teenagers and young adults is to somehow include digital things with the museum (example: adding perhaps a scavenger hunt game for cellphones/tablets that people can take to the museum and play to find certain exhibits and win a prize at the end).

I find it rather sad that attendance at museums has began to decline. There's so many interesting things to do at any type of museum, whether it's an operating railroad or a one-room schoolhouse in a city park. I hope that eventually there will be new ways of bringing in visitors because those who don't go to museums are really missing out.

Thomas Dyrek

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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:08 am
Posts: 60
VR or Augmented Reality ideas are something which has mused me as well. Especially if you were somewhere where there are historical photographs of the depot/roundhouse/locomotive that you could scan and load up to look at.

QR codes dotted about would be a very cheap idea giving new info, or pictures not otherwise seen.

Interactivity has become the new "in thing" but the question is how to do it within an acceptable budget.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:05 pm
Posts: 20
JDParkes wrote:
VR or Augmented Reality ideas are something which has mused me as well. Especially if you were somewhere where there are historical photographs of the depot/roundhouse/locomotive that you could scan and load up to look at.


To see this point demonstrated:

http://theroundhousepodcast.com/2017/12 ... and-glory/

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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:28 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5417
Location: southeastern USA
Better yet, look at a real enlarged photo, not a digital one the size of a playing card. Best, be physically present in the real thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:54 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 101
Are Railroad Museums and Tourist Railroads actually seeing a decline in attendance?

Cumbres and Toltec was up 7.4% in ridership (source = http://train.sbseiber.com/CTM2018Feb.html)

Durango saw a "Ridership Increase" in 2017 (source = http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... dsng-story )

Nevada Northern's 2017 Ridership was "largest year they ever had" (source = http://www.elynews.com/2018/01/19/railw ... assengers/ )


I'll continue to look for more...


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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8689
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Another fair question that has arisen:

When was the last time going to your museum or operation revealed something NEW?

A new car? A new exhibit? A new attraction? A new/freshly restored car or locomotive or trolley? New products at the snack bar or gift shop?

Right now, at least four transportation museums in my neck of the woods are shut down for the winter (as was planned in two cases, and not so much in another at least), and meanwhile are undertaking MAJOR rehabilitation and "refreshment." Among the four, I have seen the following:

*New display cases and exhibits being installed (in one case, donated from a high-end store through a contractor, to replace cases that were so old they fell apart as they tried to remove them intact for anyone else to take through Craigslist);
*"New" artifacts and/or exhibits being put on display;
*Moving a quite large model railroad exhibit from one floor to another, and re-erecting it;
*A new sound system in the auditorium;
*Complete stripping and refinishing of ALL the floors;
*Routine but time-consuming maintenance and touch-up to structures, and as much paint as can be applied when the weather permits;
*A substantial rebuilding of the gift shop, also with new display cases and fixtures, aimed at making the buying experience much more attractive--again, with some of the fixtures donated from a remodelled department store, claimed by a volunteer that works with them;
*And, in what is probably the most significant step of all, the complete re-wiring and re-lighting under way at one facility to replace ALL the lighting systems with new high-efficiency lighting plus more outdoor lighting--being paid for by a grant by one sponsor and a substantial consumption-reduction grant program by the energy company, with the museum kicking in only a couple thousand dollars. This will improve the visitor experience, improve visitor and volunteer safety, and dramatically lower the overhead costs of the museum in question.

Not only does this improve the casual visitors' experiences, but it also, in at least one case, improves the facility's attractiveness for potential rental for meetings, wedding receptions, company picnics, club gatherings, joint events (the antique car rally, the bicycle rally), and the like.

If I come to your museum or excursion line in 2018, what will I see or find different from the time I visited in 2016? Or 2006? Or, dare I ask, 1986?

Can I say, as so many fans used to say of just about any line, "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt/engineer's cap that no longer fits"??? Or not???


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 Post subject: Re: Museums search for solutions to reverse attendance slide
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:08 am
Posts: 60
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Are Railroad Museums and Tourist Railroads actually seeing a decline in attendance?

Cumbres and Toltec was up 7.4% in ridership (source = http://train.sbseiber.com/CTM2018Feb.html)

Durango saw a "Ridership Increase" in 2017 (source = http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... dsng-story )

Nevada Northern's 2017 Ridership was "largest year they ever had" (source = http://www.elynews.com/2018/01/19/railw ... assengers/ )


I'll continue to look for more...



The answer is probably not, if anything "Heritage visits" are becoming more and more popular and something you can interact with (like a railroad) is going to see increases.

I guess this thread is more about art museums more than anything, but it's good to see the prompting of debate and to show there's no complacency to be had.


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