Letter from the CEO
Updated: April 3, 2020
Over the last seven days, there have been so many changes for the Museum and each one of us in the community. In some areas of the State of Wisconsin we are beginning to see the number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 double every few days; and we have all observed through the news the challenges for some of the hardest hit areas of the country. It is a scary, uncertain time for all of us, but there have also been some amazing moments where community members have come together to care for each other. From sewing face masks to organizing food drives for needy neighbors to the teddy bear scavenger hunt that has found its way into windows and online, it is clear our community cares for its own and will come out of this stronger than before.
So much has happened over the last ten days that I decided to format my letter a little differently. I hope that this will be easier to read, and you find the information that will be most helpful to you.
I wanted to give you some current updates about the Museum and what we are doing to support our community. As you know, Museum is closely following the guidelines found within Gov. Evers Emergency Order no. 12, also known as Safer at Home, as well as those issued by the CDC. All nonessential Museum staff are working from home; our custodian continues to work, carefully sanitizing the Museum buildings and trains to ensure everything is clean when it is safe to reopen. One of our operations maintenance staff comes in to check the security of our facilities – and to care for our Museum cats that live on the grounds.
The Museum is doing everything we can to keep our staff employed, and in turn, they want to be there for you. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. We will be answering your emails Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CDT. Staff will also periodically check their office telephone messages from home and will be happy to return your calls.
As mentioned last week, all Museum public and private events are cancelled through May 10. We are also considering moving several events that are scheduled after that date. We want to proceed with caution, and will provide you with updates regarding event changes as they happen. Those with scheduled private events can expect a call or an email from our events coordinator, Hailey Diny. Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at [email protected].
Meeting our Educational Mission
Our staff is rapidly expanding its Activity Zone with recorded and live-streamed content, worksheets, activities, and other items for children. We are working on adding a new Activity Zone page to our website, so that you can readily access all of our past and new educational content for children. Education is a fundamental aspect of the National Railroad Museum’s mission; much of this content has been used with our local schools in the past, so you can be assured that it will appropriately supplement the lessons that your educator has assigned for home.
Even as we add new student-centered content, we are also developing programs for adults. Our volunteer coordinator will begin live-streaming information about the Museum on a regular basis, and we will also present hour-long programs for adults. Many of these will be travelogues or in-depth looks at railroad topics presented by our director of education, Bob Lettenberger, and our Museum education staff. We hope that this will provide some enjoyment at a time when we are all at home.
Helping At-Risk Populations
We have also been looking for ways to meet the needs of our other community resources. This week we started a program to support the families who use the Howe Community Resource Center. This organization provides support to young, at-risk families in Brown County. You can learn more about this organization here: https://www.howecommunityresourcecenter.org/our-story. Through this partnership, every $25.00 you donate to the Museum will go towards a bag of fun, educational toys and books. That bag will go to a family in need. You get to choose to donate to them by clicking here. You are also welcome to donate to the Museum to support our other virtual education programs by clicking here.
How to Help the Museum
The Museum hopes to continue to provide for the community in the coming weeks, both by continuing development of new content and by finding new ways to serve. We also hope to continue to do this long into the future once we have reopened. As a privately funded 501c3 nonprofit, we do not receive any funding from Federal, State or local government tax money. Instead, admissions and donations keep us going. While we are applying for grants and some Small Business Association loans, we have found that there will still be a gap to fund our minimum expenses – things like paying staff, utilities and keeping the trains and other objects we hold in public trust secure. We do not want to rely on the government too much – that money also needs to go to others who need it as well; hence, if you find that you have the means to help those around you – or that your stimulus check is not fully needed at home – we hope that you will consider supporting the Museum to fill that gap. You can donate online by clicking this link. It will allow us to continue to serve you now, and when it is safe to reopen.
Thank you for everything you have done and are doing to support our community. There are not enough words to fully express my gratitude and how moved I have been by the caring that has been shown in so many ways, but know that you inspire us at the Museum. We all hope that you and your family remain well and safe.
Jacqueline D. Frank
Come explore the National Railroad Museum® at your own pace on a self-guided tour. Relive years of railroad history and take a fun, educational train ride during your visit!
- Open all year! Availability Open all year!
- All ages welcome! Ages All ages welcome!
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Our Mission Statement
Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning by providing dynamic educational opportunities through the preservation of railroad objects, engaging exhibits and innovative programs.
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As a nonprofit organization with an annual attendance of 85,000, we need your support to continue our educational programs and fun-filled events for families year after year!