This summer, there was a call for artists at the tourism site in St. Thomas, Ontario. That in itself isn’t unusual, but the call was for artists to paint on existing railway boxcars.
There was a bit of a hue and cry from railfans about this, including me. It was explained that these were outside the Elgin County Railway Museum and not part of the collection, and the boxcars were already covered with graffiti.
Four artists decorated the four boxcars and this is the result, from the museum’s Facebook post:
It’s difficult sometimes to know what to do with “surplus” railway equipment. Museums are chronically short on volunteer time and short on funds. Many museums have more inventory than they can maintain.
Years ago the New Brunswick Railway Museum in Hillsborough, NB was approached by a local paintball group (the Atlantica Outdoor Recreation Centre) wanting to use a couple of railway cars as paintball “props”. There was a little discussion about this before approval was granted. Museum curator Art Clowes said they simply didn’t have the people to maintain the equipment.
Maybe the right thing to do is to offer rail cars to other museums if you can’t maintain them. Maybe that was done and nobody wanted to pay the tens of thousands of dollars to truck the equipment away.
What do you think? How can railway equipment be properly preserved? Is it even possible with a museum’s limited time and limited budgets?