A new transportation exhibit “Salem Station” launches at Gilbert House Children’s Museum on November 3, courtesy of Cherriots Trip Choice, Amtrak Cascades/ODOT, and generous community partners.
A grand opening for the “Salem Station” exhibit is set for Friday, November 3, at 10:30 a.m. The exhibit highlights different modes of transportation throughout Salem, and provides a hands-on experience for children to navigate, explore, and construct.
“Trains have long been a favorite experience at Gilbert House, and I am excited that we have expanded the opportunity to incorporate different modes of transportation,” says Alicia Bay, Executive Director of Gilbert House. “A child will imagine a train ride, hop on a city bus, plan a route, design a city, and build bridges all in the same exhibit,” Bay continues.
A.C. Gilbert, the Salem-born man whom Gilbert House Children’s Museum is named after, focused on innovating and inventing, eventually creating the Erector Set, a toy which helped children discover that same spirit of innovation. His idea for the Erector Set first came while riding a train from New Haven to New York. Railroad crews were raising new power lines that would convert the train from steam to electricity. Gilbert was fascinated by the architecture of the steel towers that carried the power lines, and this inspiration jumpstarted his engineering of the Erector Set. Later, Gilbert purchased the rights to American Flyer trains.
“Salem Station” captures Gilbert’s love of transportation as it opens the mind to the world of engineering. “We are inspiring the next generation to be city planners, engineers, and committed citizens,” explains Bay. “I am certain this will become a new favorite of our visitors to Gilbert House!”
In preparation for this exhibit, Gilbert House staff consulted with Cherriots Trip Choice, Amtrak Cascades/ODOT, along with local craftsman Ric Smith of Smith & Steel Custom Design, to execute key elements of the design. Visitors will recognize Salem landmarks, such as the Union Street bridge, as they enjoy an interactive tablescape, construction with magnetic blocks, and a child-size bus.
“We are excited to be a Gilbert House sponsor, and this museum exhibit reinforces our optimism for the future of public transit and the critical role it will play in the lives of generations to come,” states Bob Krebs, Cherriots board president.
Funding for the exhibit was also made possible by local philanthropists who provided a financial award to Gilbert House through participation in Nonprofit Share Tank earlier this year: Richard Pine, Rick Day, Dick Withnell, Dr. Selma Pierce, and Michael Wooters.