The Chicago Museum of Science & Industry, photo from their website

Did You Know . . .

These Facts About Museums?

by Raymond G. Potter

The Chicago Museum of Science & Industry, photo from their website

The Chicago Museum of Science & Industry,
photo from their website

The number of sporting event tickets to major league baseball, football, basketball, and hockey games sold annually is about 140 million. Believe it or not, this impressive figure is dwarfed by the number of tickets sold every year to museums, which is a staggering 850 million! ( That means there are a lot of museums catering to all manner of people’s interests.

SMARTT  has contributed to several museums over the past several years building model train layouts and displays. If you’re close to Chicago, you can thrill to the Great Train Story layout at the Chicago Museum of Science and IndustryThis huge HO layout (at 65 ft wide by 95 ft long) features several main lines and branch lines allowing for multiple trains to operate simultaneously. This one-of-a-kind entertainment and learning attraction also features several interactive animations and vignettes.

On the west coast, stop by the California State Railroad Museum to see the operating Standard Gauge and O gauge layout we built to highlight the rare toys of the Thomas Sefton Collection. This layout depicts the fanciful style of the earlier generation of Lionel Pre-War trains and accessories.

On the east coast, you can see the Ringling Circus Museum Howard Tibbals Learning Center collection  where we built a 66 foot long 1/16 scale backdrop of industrial buildings to display their handmade circus train car collection.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  According to the America Association of Museums (, the most recent estimate at counting museums in the US estimated the number at 17,500. This includes (in order of popularity) zoos, botanical gardens, and science museums, as well as nature centers, historic sites, and others. lists about 250 Railroad museums in the USA, plus another 40 in Canada. When you add to that 250 railroad museums, the number of other museums, like science museums and children’s museums, where model railroads are frequently employed to demonstrate educational themes, there are a LOT of opportunities to see and hear and, where allowed, touch the world of trains, both full size and miniature.  So enjoy your love of trains. Go out and visit a train museum today!

from the July, 2011 SMARTT Newsletter

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