Union Pacific Railroad Museum to Open New Exhibit in May
March 2, 2012
First Museum Exhibit to Use Kinect Full-body Gaming Technology
The entire first floor of The Union Pacific Railroad Museum will be transformed in the coming months into the state-of-the-art, million-dollar exhibit "Building America" The exhibit's grand opening will be May 12, 2012.
Since opening in the Carnegie Library in Council Bluffs in 2003, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum's first floor has been dedicated to sharing the experience of building the Transcontinental Railroad. The new exhibit takes the telling of this story to an entirely new level. With a new immersive design and cutting-edge technology, visitors will be transported to the 1860s as they learn about frontier life, the monumental work needed for constructing the railroad and the communities that were created along its route.
"Using video gaming technology never before seen in a museum application, the "Building America" exhibit will allow us to put visitors to work at the scene of the transcontinental railroad construction," said Patricia LaBounty, outreach and collections manager, Union Pacific Railroad Museum. "From entering a tunnel at Donner Summit to trying their hand at driving a spike, visitors will see this 19th Century feat of technology and engineering come to life as never before,"
The museum will be closing the first floor of exhibits March 5 to begin construction. The second floor of exhibits, "America Travels by Rail" and "Working the Railroad" will remain open through April 7. The entire museum will be closed from April 8 to May 11, reopening May 12 with the unveiling of the "Building America" exhibit.
Key components of the "Building America"exhibit will include:
- The first museum use of Kinect full-body gaming technology to create a truly immersive experience for visitors.
- More than 200 artifacts, some dating back to the 1860s.
- 55 pieces from the museum's firearm collection;
- 60 railroad lanterns;
- 64 stereographic images from the building of the transcontinental railroad;
To learn more about the installation process and for sneak peeks of the new exhibit, "Like" the Museum on Facebook, or follow on Twitter , @uprrmuseum.
Union Pacific Railroad provided funding for this renovation, with assistance from the Iowa West Foundation and The Friends of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum.
- Friday, Mar. 3: Under the Big Top! Circus Night at the Museum
Feb. 28 – Join us for a fun circus themed evening! The Tangier Shriners, Council Bluffs Public Library, and Pottawattamie County Conservation will have activities to enjoy.
- Saturday, Feb. 18: Celebrate Black History Month (1 - 3 p.m.)
Feb. 17 – The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is partnering with Union Pacific's Black Employee Network (BEN) to celebrate Black History Month for a special event held Saturday, Feb. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. During the event, BEN members will host "stations" throughout the museum, allowing visitors to experience the unique history of the American Negro Baseball League. The Great Plains Black History Museum is a special partner for the event and will bring artifacts and information on the metro area's involvement in the League.
- Friday, Feb. 3: Lincoln's Birthday Bash! Family Night at the Museum
Jan. 26 – Join us to celebrate Lincoln's birthday! See how you measure up to the U.S.'s tallest President, listen to stories, and tour the museum while wearing a party hat.
- Friday, Jan. 6: Dress to Impress: Pajama Night at the Museum (5-7 p.m.)
Wear your favorite, public ready pajamas and come tour the museum. Pottawattamie County Conservation and the Council Bluffs Public Library have activities to enjoy. Don't forget to join our pajama parade at 6!
- Holiday Happenings at the UP Museum
There is something for everyone at the Union Pacific Museum this Holiday season! From Family Night on Dec. 2, to a goodwill donation wrapping service on Dec. 10 and 17, to a special premier of our Holiday model train display at "Trains and Trees" on Dec. 15, visitors will find plenty to do this Holiday season at the
Union Pacific Museum.
- Thursday, Nov. 17: Project Reindeer! (6-8 p.m.)
Join us for an evening of fun with live reindeer, cookies and cider as we celebrate the ceremonial holiday lighting of Bayliss Park!
- Friday, November 4: Can You Dig It? Dirt Night at the Museum (5-7 p.m.)
Visitors will see a live animal from the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, learn about different types of soil with an activity from Pottawattamie County Conservation and little ones can be paleontologists in a Dig for Dinosaurs game. Guests will also be invited to spin to win the prize wheel for passes to the movie "Trolls."
- Friday, Oct. 7: Go West: Exploration Night at the Museum (5-7 p.m.)
Receive a passport and explore the museum with new eyes in this fun and interactive evening inspired by Union Pacific's Department of Tours, which arranged and expedited all-inclusive, guided tours for passengers throughout the Western National Parks and city destinations. Re-enactors, Conductors, Brakemen and Engineers, from the Camerail Club are your guides for the evening as you collect National Park passport stamps and explore.
- Friday, Sept. 2: ¡Todos a Bordo! Hispanic Heritage Night at the Museum (5-7 p.m.)
El Museo Latino and Union Pacific's Latino Employee Network (LEN) are partnering with the UP Museum to bring you a night full of music, dancing and more in a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. In addition to a special presentation by "CHOMARI" Ballet Folklórico Mexicano from El Museum Latino, visitors will receive a passport card to explore eight different stations providing interesting facts about the railroad and the community.
- Wednesday, August 10: Historian John Hankey's 'Railroads in American Culture' Lecture (6-7 p.m.)
The "Pacific Railroad" captured the American imagination as early as 1832 and became reality in 1869 with the driving of the Golden Spike. For almost 185 years, the "Railroad to the Pacific" has had a special place in American popular culture. In his lecture, Hankey will explore the Pacific Railroad's special place in our culture and explain why Union Pacific is indeed "America's Railroad."
- July 16 & 17: Railroad Days 2016!
Railroad Days is an annual celebration of all things train and track! For just $15, two adults and all their children receive admission to and transportation between six Omaha and Council Bluffs-area museums. Click on the headline to learn more!
- Friday, July 1: Family Night at the Museum (5 - 7 p.m.)
Visitors will experience "Red, White and You: Community Night at the Museum." Meet your community firefighters, see inside a real fire truck, meet and greet one of Union Pacific's special agents, and discover new ways you can be a healthier and happier citizen of your community! Admission is free for all family nights.
- Friday, June 3: Family Night at the Museum (5 - 7 p.m.)
Visitors will experience "If You Build It...," discovering the materials used to build the Museum and the National Park lodges. Design your own floor plan and learn what it takes to build a railroad. One of the Storm Chaser mascots will be available for photos beginning at 5 p.m. Admission is free, donations are gladly accepted.
- Wednesday, May 25: Omaha/Pottawattamie Gives! Open House (5 - 7 p.m.)
As part of the Omaha Gives!/Pottawattamie Gives! community fundraising activities, we are hosting an after-hours open house at the Museum. During this special event visitors will experience the grand old days of passenger railroading. The event is free and open to the public.
- Friday, May 6: Family Night at the Museum Begins (5 - 7 p.m.)
Family Night at the Museum will be held on the first Friday each month, starting Friday, May 6, from 5 - 7 p.m. Each family night will feature a unique arts or learning opportunity that is fun for the entire family.
- Saturday, April 23: All Set for the WEST Opens (10 a.m.)
A new temporary exhibit, All Set for the WEST: Railroads and National Parks, opens on Saturday, April 23 with a ribbon cutting hosted by Mayor Matt Walsh at 10:00 a.m. Click the link above to learn more.
- Saturday, Feb. 20: Celebrate Black History Month (1 - 3 p.m.)
Experience the unique contributions of African Americans to Union Pacific and the National Parks System at several stations placed throughout the museum. As a special treat, representatives from the Homestead National Monument will be in attendance to honor and celebrate the 100-year-old relationship between Union Pacific and the National Park Service. This event is free and open to the public.
- Dec. 17 - Jan. 2: The Holiday Model Trains are Back!
Carrying on a heart-warming tradition, the museum will have a fully operational tabletop N-scale train on the first floor through January 2, 2016.
The equipment planned for the operating layout is part of a 5,250-piece collection owned by Bill Dodge, a generous museum patron and volunteer. This year, several members of the N-Trak model train club will be helping Dodge operate a new, larger layout. The crew will be available to answer questions for the duration of the exhibit.
- Holiday Hours
The museum's regular hours are Thursday - Saturday, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Click to view our updated holiday hours.
- Saturday, Nov 21: Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with Guest Speaker Gyasi Ross
Union Pacific Railroad Museum is partnering with Union Pacific’s Council of Native American Heritage (CONAH) employee resource group to celebrate National Native American History Month on November 21, with a free presentation by nationally acclaimed speaker, Gyasi Ross, entitled, "Native Elders and Native Youth: Bridging the Gap. Recognizing the importance of mentorship for survival and success."