Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Get's A New Boss!

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Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Get's A New Boss!

Postby Schuylkill Valley » Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:23 pm

I saw this on RYPN.ORG

For Charles Fox, his assignment as the new director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is "like being "a kid in a candy shop."

"It's a phenomenal facility and I'm very excited at the prospect," the 45-year-old Bucks County native said. Image

Fox's love of trains dates back to his youth.

"I got my interest in trains from riding the Reading Railroad in and out of Philadelphia," he said. "Some of those trains are here in this collection today, which is pretty neat."

He also collects Lionel trains from the 1940s and 1950s

Fox, who has worked for the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission for 12 years, took over at the railroad museum in mid-December. His last job was as the site administrator of the Somerset Historical Center in Somerset County.

While there, he also was involved in the development of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, commemorating the Americans who died on the plane while fighting terrorists on 9/11.

Fox replaces David Dunn, who is now a section chief in the Harrisburg offices of PHMC.

Coming to the Strasburg museum poses both opportunities and challenges, Fox said. It gives him the opportunity to "learn even more about trains, and try to take this museum to the next level."

The challenge is to move the museum forward in light of budget cuts and recent staff reductions.

"The challenges that this museum faces are similar to those faced by all museums, especially in this economic climate," he said. "There's not as much money allocated for cultural heritage history, so we have to look to alternative sources to raise the funds we need to maintain our level of programming."

Alternative sources of funding must be found to help maintain the "level and quality" of the museum's programs, not to mention its vigorous and costly restoration program for the cars and locomotives in its extensive collection.

Fox hopes the museum's active Friends of the Railroad Museum group will step in to help fill the void.

"We have a wonderful Friends group here, who have done tremendous things for this museum in terms of staffing and helping us to increase the level of professionalism, and expand the spectrum of programs and exhibits we can offer to the public," Fox said. "Their role may have to increase as a result of some of the reductions in the state budget."

Fox sees no changes in the museum's current programs, but is concerned about the museum's ability to care for the pieces in its collection after they go through the lengthy and costly restoration process.

"Right now, they're out in the open air, exposed to the sun, the rain, the wind and the snow," he said. "That's a major problem. It doesn't do any good to restore them if we can't take care of them."

Above all, Fox wants to provide the best experience possible for "our visitors who come through the door."

"Museums often get the reputation of being static, and we can't be, particularly in this case," he said. "Railroad history hasn't ended. It didn't end when the steam locomotives went away. It's still alive, so we need to be nimble and adapt to our audience and to changing circumstances in order to stay on top of our game."

Despite the current recession, Fox believes the future is bright for the PHMC overall, and the railroad museum in particular.

"Yes, there are challenges, but they're not insurmountable," he said. "I think you'll see great things happening here in the next few years."

Schuylkill Valley
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