TCMRM Status Update


Historical perspective

Since 1934 our volunteers have operated the Museum for the public’s enjoyment.

  • A published history book, released during TCMRM’s 75th Anniversary year, titled “The Twin City Model Railroad Club/Museum – 1934 to 2009” provides a fascinating account account of the organization’s evolution and history. Copies are available for purchase in the Museum’s Gift Store.
  • For the past 32 years ending February 28, 2016, the Museum resided at St. Paul’s Bandana Square, with the world-renowned 2-rail layout located on the 2nd floor; and since 2008 the Toy Trains Division layouts and exhibits were on the 1st floor of the next-door Chimneys Building.
  • Over those 32 years, the Museum’s monthly rent expense at Bandana Square grew from free to more than $9,000 per month by October, 2015, at which point it was clear that the cost for this limited space severely strained the Museum’s financial resources.

Significant accomplishments since 4Q15

Resolving Museum space and related financial issues:

  • In the 4th quarter of 2015 the Museum Board of Directors successfully negotiated an early Bandana Square lease termination effective March 31st, 2016, which was one month after the end of the annual ‘Night Trains’ exhibit, the Museum’s most popular and widely attended event.
  • Since 2008 the cost of the Toy Train Division Chimney Building space was largely underwritten by its generous owner, who also offered the Museum an opportunity to purchase that building. When the Museum Board decided not to buy the Chimneys Building, it was placed on the market for sale, resulting in the Toy Train Division needing to vacate that space by November 1, 2015, after which toy trains ran in the “Education Room” by the 2-rail layout until 2-28-16 when all Bandana Square Museum operations ceased.
  • The Museum Board was pleased to find a very pleasant venue with more than 11,000 square feet of museum quality space and plenty of free parking at 668 Transfer Road (near the abandoned Midway AMTRAK Depot,) and signed a 10-year lease allowing us access beginning March 1st, 2016. The Board identified and approved major investments needed to prepare the new space, and authorized a fundraising campaign to cover costs needed to prepare the new space to house the Museum. Also a grant was sought to receive an “Initial Schematic Design for New Museum Space”.
    • The initial capital campaign was launched in October and resulted in scores of donors responding generously, allowing us to have sufficient funds to paint, electrically wire, and carpet the new space.
    • The grant request process took time to work through and required us to raise matching funds.
    • The Board authorized Richard Holz to chair a new “Fundraising and Investment Management Committee” and facilitate an urgently needed significant, long-range, fundraising initiative.

Relocating Museum artifacts, furniture, and lighting:

  • From early on it was clear that we urgently needed a low-cost plan to disassemble, transport, and reassemble the 2-rail layout along with everything else… and get it all done quickly (to minimize the length of time during which the Museum would be closed to visitors and consequently receive no admittance ticket revenue.) Mathew Winiecki, Vice President of Engineering & Design, with the Board’s backing, ably led efforts to develop an aggressive teardown and transport plan.
  • Impressively, volunteers from our Museum and from other organizations across Minnesota came together and accomplished the teardown and move on time and incurred minimal moving costs. On 3-31-16 all our Museum’s items had been removed from the operations site in Bandana Square!
  • Beginning in March, the Board’s chief challenge was where to best place the 2-rail layout for Matt’s crew of skilled volunteers to reassemble. This challenge was stressful because we wanted to keep the momentum going to reassemble the 2-rail layout, while at the same time we wanted to delay making a placement decision until we fully analyzed what might be the very best location. Our intention was to keep open a wider set of placement opportunities for the other train layouts. The Board finally announced its educated judgment and, while the Museum was closed to visitors, reassembly commenced in earnest.

Resuming 2016 Museum operations:

  • In March the Museum moved communication and security services into the new space, and in April (because many of the Toy Trains Division layouts were back in service) we announced a ‘soft opening’ on Saturday, May 14th. After 75 days of being closed, visitors began walking through the relocated Museum and using half price ($5) tickets authorized for that time. Operations were limited to Saturdays and Sundays to allow restorative work to continue. As always, children 4 & under were admitted free.
  • The Board engaged a Professional Museum Exhibit Design team to work with us over the concept-graphicnext few years to design the long-term ‘look and feel’ of the Museum’s new space.  We’re in Schematic Design phase 2 now. The goal is to create a bigger, brighter and more cohesive exhibit space that educates and inspires model railroad enthusiasts of all ages. Some are surprised to learn that we must raise matching funds for grants!
  • In mid-July, the Museum began Tuesday operations in addition to being open on Saturdays and Sundays. In August, admittance tickets returned to full price, the new large, custom lighted sign was installed over the building’s front entrance doors, and the 2-rail layout was being rewired and reassembled in stages
  • As of mid-September, six loops and all 4 main lines of the 2-rail layout were fully operational, Toy Train Division layouts and exhibits were coming back to life, the “Train Doctor” was back onboard, and all indications were that we were “on track” for Night Trains which began the 2016-2017 Season on November 5th.


Hours of Operation:                                               Fall/Winter 2016-2017 Events:

  • Tuesdays 10 am to 3 pm                       Circus Moves by Rail………………………Oct 8-9
  • Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm                       Night Trains…………………..Sat Nights 6-9 pm
  • Sundays Noon to 5 pm                                                             (Nov 5th thru Feb 25th )
  • Closed Christmas Eve Day (12/24)
  • Closed Christmas Day (12/25)
  • Open New Year’s Eve (12/31)
  • Closed New Year’s Day (1/1)

Near-term challenges

Our most serious ongoing challenge is to raise new funds to 1) cover current operating expenses and 2) match grants needed to professionally transform and enhance the museum’s impact on visitors. We will strive to improve our recognition of all donor gifts (money and other accepted valuables) and encourage our friends to pass along information to others willing to contribute to this worthy cause.   “Many hands can make a heavy load light.” We ask each of our supporters to “please talk to your friends” to help. Covering our staffing needs with available volunteers is an on-going challenge.

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MISSION STATEMENT of the Twin City Model Railroad Museum:


            To entertain and educate guests while preserving the history, art, and technological legacy of model railroading and toy trains, emphasizing the regional importance of railroads.

Rev 11/18/16


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