Our permanent exhibit galleries are located on the first and 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.
“After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading” – June 1 – September 30th
“After Promontory takes a wide view, considering the events at Promontory to be the start of a larger phenomenon, an entire era of transcontinental railroad construction that stretched for nearly fifty years. At its core is the assertion that, collectively, the transcontinental railroads profoundly reshaped the human geography of the West, giving birth to the region we recognize today.”
For those who ask what is Promontory?
ON MAY 10, 1869, TWO RAILROADS—built with haste, hope, and aspiration—joined in a lonely desert of northern Utah, at a place called Promontory. On that day, dignitaries from both companies—the Central Pacific, which had built from California, and the Union Pacific, which had built from the east—gave speeches and installed ceremonial last spikes.
The ceremonies were meant as a moment of self-congratulation, but the significance of the day’s events is far broader. In the ensuing decades, railroad after railroad proposed new, competing transcontinental routes—and sometimes completed them. Their construction swept away the dominance of native tribes, ended the open range, and restructured the West into a network of resources and industries dependent upon clusters of urban centers.
“Lines with Power and Purpose: Editorial Cartoons” – On Display October 21, 2020 – November 30, 2020
On a daily basis, editorial cartoonists deliver biting social commentary made palatable through amusing and well-crafted illustration. Lines with Power and Purpose: Editorial Cartoons features fifty-one original editorial cartoons from the nation’s great metropolitan newspapers during the Golden Age of print journalism. Included in the mix are six Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonists, each demonstrating the theme of political commentary through editorial illustrations and addressing issues from the first half of the twentieth century.
These deceptively simple drawings frame the public’s understanding of early-to-mid twentieth-century world events and trends ranging from the two world wars, the great depression, public discontent with the US government, presidential elections, daily battles regarding work-related rejection, nostalgia for homespun neighborhood charm in the Midwest, and more. Along the way, these cartoons served a dualistic intention: to provide welcomed comic relief as well as shape opinion.
The cartoonist draws strength from the limited conventions of the newspaper context. Just as the strict rules of a haiku challenge the poet to create exactly the right mood within the tight construction of very few words, the editorial cartoonist presents a powerful distillation of political argument through a single image and maybe a few well-placed labels or a short caption.
To accomplish this underappreciated feat, cartoonists develop their own language—a language taught to and subsequently shared with their readers. Standard symbols such as the oft-used Uncle Sam or Statue of Liberty evoke abstract concepts such as nation, patriotism, and public interest. On a darker side, cartoons reveal the inherent cruelty of prejudice, xenophobia, and ignorance.
Political humor relies on an informed and receptive audience. Headline stories prime newspaper readers to more quickly grasp the cartoonist’s unique take on the news of the day. A talented cartoonist makes even complex political arguments accessible to ordinary citizens. The friendly strokes of the cartoonist’s pen often belie the rawness and reality of the issues at hand. This exhibition of editorial cartoons convey how cartoons effectively expose hypocrisy, reveal contradictions, introduce news ideas, and promote fresh perspectives as news events unfold.