Permanent Exhibits

Our exhibits are located on the second floor of the museum. Our permanent exhibits focus on railroad history, with an emphasis on the Santa Fe and railroads in Texas. We also have a changing exhibit gallery, with new exhibits every 2 to 3 months. Our temporary exhibits explore general topics in U.S. history, as well as railroad history.

Fall Temporary Exhibit:

Central Vermont Railway Extra 464 North Meets Extra 472 South, Amherst, MA 1954

Central Vermont Railway Extra 464 North Meets Extra 472 South, Amherst, MA 1954
Photograph copyright David Plowden, courtesy of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art

Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden
On Display: September 1 – December 9, 2017

Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden will be on display September 1 – December 9. On loan from the Center for Railroad Photography and Art in Madison, Wisconsin, the exhibit features 30 meticulously crafted black and white photographs all taken by David Plowden. Plowden is widely acknowledged as one of America’s great landscape and industrial photographers. Requiem for Steam is his tribute to the end of the steam era on American and Canadian railroads.

Plowden first pointed a camera, his mother’s box Brownie camera, down a railroad track in 1943 when he was eleven years old. Although he did not know it at the time, he had just discovered his life’s work, his passion. For the next sixteen years Plowden photographed steam locomotives at every opportunity. He earned a degree in economics from Yale University with the hopes of working in railroad management, spending a year as an assistant to the trainmaster on the Great Northern Railway in Minnesota. At work, he learned railroading and rode trains, then used his days off to photograph some of the GN’s last steam operations.

It was through his pursuit of photographing locomotives that Plowden hit upon the notion of becoming a photographer. He worked as an apprentice to O. Winston Link and studied with Minor White and Nathan Lyons before striking off on his own. In 1959-60, he pursued the end of steam on the Canadian Pacific Railway, having been granted open access to the entire system. His devotion took him to the most far-flung reaches of the CPR’s Atlantic Region where he quite literally bore witness to some of the last breaths of steam on North American mainlines.

After the advent of diesel locomotives’ dominance, Plowden trained his cameras on myriad facets of American industry and infrastructure. Through all his career, the railroad has remained a common thread. The photographs in Requiem for Steam preserve the living beauty of his beloved locomotives while continuing to show the railroad’s presence in the ever-changing American landscape. The Center for Railroad Photography & Art (www.railphoto-art.org), David Plowden, and the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum have collaborated to present this exhibition.

Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum.

Upcoming Temporary Exhibits

Sign of the Times:
The Great American Political Poster, 1844–2012
Dec. 15, 2017 – Jan. 19, 2018

The hardworking American political poster has been hiding in plain sight, attempting to catch our eye and capture our vote through the use of visual language. Explore the art of the political poster with the most exciting and rarely seen posters created in the last 170 years, from Presidents Polk to Obama, and many in between.

Russell Lee Photographs
Jan. 27 – Mar. 10, 2018

Photographs by Texas’s renowned documentary photographer Russell Lee – The exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the remarkable images he produced in 1935 and 1936 when he first took up a camera and goes on to highlight the vast body of important work that Lee produced from 1947 through 1977.

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard
Mar. 17 – May 26, 2018

On loan from the Smithsonian, the exhibit features period photographs, retro advertisements, pop culture references, and influential landscape designs. From the beauty of postwar garden design to the history of the rise of the suburbs and the environmental movement, the exhibition is a nostalgic, fascinating look back.