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, Oct. 7: Go West: Exploration Night at the Museum (5-7 p.m.)
Sep. 29 – 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."
- September 26: ¡Todos a Bordo for Community Day!
We are teaming up with Union Pacific's Latino Employee Network (LEN) to offer our first-ever bilingual experience during a special Community Day on Saturday, September 26, 2015, from 1 to 3 p.m.
- September 26: Museum Day Live!
While admission is always free at our museum, we are still proud supporters of Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day Live! event. Museum Day Live! is an annual event that encourages museums across the country to open their doors to anyone presenting a ticket for free.
- July 11 & 12: Railroad Days 2015
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 five Omaha and Council Bluffs-area museums. Click on the headline to learn more!
- We Will Be Closed on Saturday, July 4
In observance of Independence Day, we will be closed on Saturday, July 4. We will be open our normal hours (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) on Friday, July 3.
- We Can Do It! Women Railroaders During World War II
This month's Facebook serial story is about Irene Friesen, a woman who worked for Union Pacific during World War II. The information is pulled from Irene's diary, which is part of Union Pacific's collection. The entire story, from the beginning, can be viewed here.
- From Railroader to Millionaire: The Story of Hong Sling
This month, we are continuing to post small segments of an ongoing serial on Facebook. The current serial story is about Hong Sling, a Chinese immigrant and Union Pacific employee who retired a millionaire. The entire story, from the beginning, can be viewed here.
- Get Your Tickets Now!
Join us on Thursday, May 21, from 5 - 7 p.m. for an exclusive special preview of our new Art and Illustration on the Railroad exhibit.