Small Objects and Artifacts
The small object collection covers almost every facet of railroading and includes clocks, pocket watches, textiles, lanterns, dining car china, silver, fine art, communication devices, signals, shop equipment, and an assortment tools and artifacts used on historic occasions such as the laying of the B&O’s ceremonial First Stone on July 4, 1828, which marked the beginning of construction of America’s first railroad.
The Alex. Brown & Sons Exhibition Gallery contains permanent and rotating exhibits on significant aspects of railroading. Current exhibitions include:
The Smithsonian Institution’s Collection of Railroad Models: This exhibition features a comprehensive collection of models depicting the history of locomotive and rolling stock technology originally displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of History and Technology (currently the National Museum of American History). The exhibit was the brainchild of transportation curator John H. White. White gathered, in model form, examples of locomotives and cars that represented significant advancements in railroad technology. The models in the exhibit are considered by many to be the finest examples of railroad scale models ever produced.
The War Came by Train: The American Civil War was a watershed moment in the history of the United States. No railroad played as critical a role during the war as the B&O Railroad. Learn how the B&O forever changed the tactics of war by John Brown's Raid at Harper's Ferry; how its route helped lead to the first bloodshed of the Civil War during the Pratt Street Riot; and how key strategic stations and rail connections along the B&O's line faced regular destruction. Rare artifacts from public and private collections, many never before on public exhibition, tell compelling and poignant stories of the soldiers and civilians who kept the railroad running despite remarkable challenges.
About Time: Precision timekeeping and accurate schedules were essential to the safe and efficient operation of railroads. Variations or inaccuracies could literally be the difference between life and death. Learn the important role the railroads played in standardizing how we tell time. Exhibited are unique clocks and pocket watches used by the B&O Railroad and its employees.