|America's Most Comprehensive Toy Train Exhibit|
Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains showcases 1,000 toys and a dazzling, operating toy train layout
Beginning in summer 2004, the California State Railroad Museum at Old Sacramento State Historic Park has showcased the all-new exhibit, Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains. The exhibit features some 1,000 vintage toy trains, six interactive displays, and a magnificent operating toy train layout in its 3,300 square feet.
Construction of the all-new exhibit got under way in spring 2004, following the removal of an earlier, outdated toy train exhibit on the Railroad Museum's second floor. The completed exhibit represents two years of planning, six months of fabrication and installation, and six weeks of carefully placing the numerous artifacts into display cases.
The new exhibit is a direct result of a sizable, late 2001 donation of an extensive and internationally recognized collection of 20th Century toy trains, Buddy "L" riding toys and railroad-related artifacts to the California State Railroad Museum, along with a generous cash donation to assist with its care and display. Collected over some four decades by Mr. Thomas W. Sefton, a prominent San Diego banker, the collection is considered one of the finest of its kind in the United States. Included are some 7,000 toy trains and a variety of accessories, such as locomotives and railroad cars from companies including Buddy L, Ives, American Flyer, Marklin, Marx, and Lionel are featured, along with accessories such as depots, bridges, and tunnels. Human figures, street lamps and railroad crossing signals, homes, and other trackside structures are also included.
In addition to exhibiting the world-renowned Thomas W. Sefton toy train collection, the new exhibit Small Wonders introduces guests to the magic of toy trains and the joys of collecting, and helps illustrate the place of toy trains and scale models in American popular culture. Because the collection put together by Mr. Sefton is so extensive in volume, only a portion will be displayed at any one time allowing for a regularly updated presentation to delight toy train enthusiasts time and again. The space in which the new exhibit is located has been formally renamed the Thomas W. Sefton Gallery.
"Construction of the new Thomas W. Sefton Gallery represents an exciting and significant development for the California State Railroad Museum and the greater Sacramento region," said Museum Director Cathy Taylor in summer 2004. "The fascinating story of toy trains, and the magnificent collections displayed in the new Gallery, are sure to attract new audiences of all ages and from every corner of the world."
"Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains" is organized into six specific themes:
â€¢ Exhibit Introduction Here, guests learn that toy trains are part of our culture and our heritage, and that they are an art form - and a worthy topic for a museum exhibition.
â€¢ Collector's Attic In this portion of the new exhibit, guests explore why people collect items, how Thomas W. Sefton went about collecting, and how scarcity and other object criteria impact the value of a collection.
â€¢ Toy Trains 101 Think of this as your "introduction to toy trains." You'll learn how early "primitive" toy trains evolved from pull and push toys, into wind-ups, friction-powered toys, live steam, and electric toy trains, and how developing technology added color, movement, and light.
â€¢ Lionel City Here, the toy trains of the 1920s and 1930s are highlighted as the "pinnacle" of toy trains as art. Guests also examine how packaging and marketing methods reflected the changing cultural and social outlook of Americans.
â€¢ Operating Layout Here, visitors learn how toy trains operate, and experience the thrill of lights, color and motion as trains whiz by classically styled train stations, human figures, and other accessories.
â€¢ Toy Trains for Everyone Learn how scale model trains the basis for most of today's "model railroads" developed as part of the toy train phenomenon, and how toy trains have affected our shared culture in America today.
The new exhibit is permanently displayed at the California State Railroad Museum at Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Museum - which is part of the California State Parks system - is America's most popular railroad museum.