By Cara Cifferelli
The New-York Historical Society has been transformed into a toys and trains wonderland for our newest exhibition, Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection. But, it didn’t happen overnight. See how everything came together in this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the installation of Holiday Express!
For days, Museum staff have been working around the clock to turn the first floor of the Museum into an enormous exhibition chock-full of trains, toys, and history. It takes an army of Museum staff members to install a museum exhibition (big or small) and people from many departments all have to work together to make it happen.
Carpenters have to construct displays (often from scratch!) which lighting experts then add their special touches to. In the photo below, workers attach lighting wires to the roof of the huge circular display case now in the rotunda.
When huge sets are on display, it can be easy to overlook the details, but there are special staff members whose job it is to make sure that even the tiniest detail isn’t overlooked. In the photo below, the miniature wires that will hold artifacts are being painted the exact same color as the objects they’ll hold. That way when you’re looking in the case, you won’t even notice that they’re there.
On the tech side of things, members of the IT staff have had their work cut out for them. Throughout the exhibition, there are screens which show high quality images of certain special artifacts. These screens are not just there for decoration. Sometimes, the photos on the screen allow us to see an artifact eve better than we can see by just looking at the object itself! Here you can see an image and date being tested on one of the many screens.
From the photos, you can see that it’s almost time to place the objects. But where do they come from? In some exhibits, artifacts and artworks are sent from other museums and collections. In others, artifacts and artworks are taken out from the museum’s own storage. For Holiday Express, the New-York Historical Society is putting on display objects from its newly acquired Jerni Collection – a treasure trove of historic toy trains and so much more!
In the boxes shown above are the artifacts that will be going in the Holiday Express exhibition. And these aren’t just any old boxes – they are museum boxes. Museums have old, fragile, and sensitive materials in their collections. Therefore, their boxes and crates are often custom made to make sure that nothing gets bumped, broken, or damaged. Some boxes used to transport artifacts are even climate controlled! This is to make sure that moisture and hot or cold temperatures don’t affect their fragile cargo, even if they have to travel far distances on trucks or planes.
So many people and things go into making an amazing exhibition and Holiday Express is no exception. Now that you’ve seen what it looked like during the installation, stop by the Museum to check out the finished result. Be sure to join us for our Historic Train Weekend, happening from December 13th-14th!