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Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection

Returns to the New-York Historical Society

On View October 30, 2015 – February 28, 2016

Enchanting Display of 300 Toys and Related Programming

Will Enthrall Visitors of All Ages This Holiday Season

New York, NY, October 14, 2015 — The New-York Historical Society will again be transformed this holiday season with a vibrant and sweeping display of spectacular antique toy trains, toys, and scenic elements. On view October 30, 2015 through February 28, 2016, Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection celebrates the beauty and allure of toys from a bygone era.

“This exhibition will engage visitors in the thrill and joy of trains while conveying the important history of American industry—for example, how train tracks replaced waterways as the most popular mode of transport for people and goods,” stated Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “With the pounding of the golden spike in 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was complete, spurring migration across the continent and forever transforming the American landscape. Locomotives rapidly traversed the terrain, connecting the U.S. heartland to East Coast factories, shipyards, and piers. In urban centers such as New York, local railways, both elevated and underground, allowed for the first rapid, public intercity transport. ”  

Holiday Express begins at New-York Historical’s West 77th Street entrance, where movement and sound from four large-scale multimedia screens will create the illusion of locomotives roaring through the rotunda. The exhibition winds throughout the first floor Berkowitz Sculpture Court and Smith Gallery and down to the DiMenna Children’s History Museum on the lower level, including creative exhibition displays of more than 300 pieces. Among them are eight overhead trains with an additional three locomotives operating in a display showcasing classic American trains and toys.  Interactive elements, including a crawl-through space leading to a pop-up semi-sphere, allow children to get an up-close-and personal view of the displays.

Theatrical lighting, a steam engine locomotive “soundscape,” and picturesque backdrops—including mountain tunnels, stately stations, and other imaginative scenery—immerse the visitor in the whimsical history of children’s toys. Among the artifacts on view are 11 classic Lionel trains that will chug along more than 400 linear feet of tracks twisting and turning overhead.

Since its acquisition by New-York Historical Society last year, the Jerni Collection has become a highlight of the Museum’s holdings. Assembled over the course of five decades by U.S. collectors Jerry and Nina Greene, the Jerni Collection is considered one of the world’s leading collections of antique trains and toys. The Jerni Collection includes unique, hand-crafted and hand-painted pieces dating from approximately 1850 to 1940, featuring prime examples by the leading manufacturers that set the standard for the Golden Age of Toy Trains, including the German firms of Märklin and Bing, as well as the American firms Lionel and Ives.

Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection was curated by Mike Thornton, Assistant Curator for Material Culture at the New-York Historical Society. The display was designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (LHSA+DP), an integrated architecture and exhibit design firm that also designed New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum. Other consultants for Holiday Express include T W TrainWorx, a nationally recognized model train specialist and designer of custom toy train layouts; and exhibition media producers Batwin + Robin, renowned “media storytellers” with more than twenty years of experience in the theater, museums, and other venues.

Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Related Programming
An array of family programs, including story times, dining car-inspired brunches, and hands-on activities for winter break, will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition

Story Time with Samantha R. Vamos, Author of Alphabet Trains!
Saturday, November 21 at 11:30 am

Join us for a very special Macy’s Sunday Story Time and meet children’s author Samantha R. Vamos! She will be reading her latest book Alphabet Trains, along with a few others, and holding a book signing in honor of the exhibition Holiday Express.

All Aboard: Historical Train Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13 from 12 – 3 pm

Trains, rails, conductors, and maps! Families will hear tales of the rails, help build a Transcontinental Railroad, and explore the incredible toy trains from the New-York Historical Society’s magnificent Jerni Collection. Ages 3 -6. Free with museum admission.

Holiday Express Family Brunch
Sundays, December 20, January 10, and February 7, 2016 from 9:30 – 11 am

To celebrate our annual Holiday Express exhibition, we invite families to join us for a special morning brunch. Kids and their parents can enjoy a special buffet, create wooden trains, get engineer caps and temporary tattoos, go on a train scavenger hunt and meet Conductor Abe, who will entertain all with stories and songs from the railroad. All ages. $35 ($30 member); $120 for a family of four.

School Vacation Week: Ride the Rails!
December 26 – January 3

Come celebrate our special winter exhibition Holiday Express with daily classic train storybooks and hands-on craft activities! Families will travel through America’s past with vacation-week programming that keeps everyone engaged. Scavenger hunts in the galleries for long-ago objects and hands-on activities to create and bring home reminders of a great day together. All ages. Free with Museum admission.

Train Tales and Crafts
Daily, 2 pm
Come hear a classic train storybook being read aloud and stay for a related craft activity! Books include The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet, How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, and many more.

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical is the oldest museum in New York City. New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

Visitor Information
The New-York Historical Society
1170 Central Park West (between 76th and 77th Streets), New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400, www.nyhistory.org

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan
New-York Historical Society
(212) 873-3400 x263


Julia Esposito
Polskin Arts & Communications Counselors
(212) 715-1643

Photo credits: Jon Wallen

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Creative: Tronvig Group