Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Twice

‘Tis the season both to shop for Christmas and to make those end-of-the-year charitable contributions. Here is a way you can do both kinds of giving with one stop.

The VMT museum gift shop, Destinations, offers a great selection of special items for the transportation aficionados in your world. In addition, every dollar you spend there helps the museum.

Destinations stocks a delightful variety of gifts: T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps for the grownups and the young’uns. Calendars, mugs and clocks. An electic selection of videos, dvds and cds.

You’ll find puzzles, games and and throws (including one featuring the J611). A variety of toys including colorful, large wooden trucks that children can both assemble and then operate.

There are Christmas decorations and key chains. Badges and playing cards. Prints and posters and postcards. Magnets and maps.

And how could we forget the books? Books with rosters of locomotives and rolling stock. Books of railroad timetables. Coffee-table-sized picture books about trains and other types of transportation. Histories of various railroads in Virginia, the South, and across the U.S. Books that entertain or inform or inspire or all three.

The VMT museum store features products made in the USA. When you purchase one of our Made in USA products, you are helping the museum and helping to keep jobs in America.

Shopping for a child? Think beyond Thomas. We carry a line of beautifully made wooden engines and cars that are totally compatible with Thomas and Brio. Made in the USA and painted with lead-free paint, they are painted to look like real train cars. Children who are thrilled by the trains that rumble through Roanoke can now have the same NS or CSX cars on their home track.

Come on by. Or call the gift shop at 767-4651. Or roll on over to: You can ord-er items and have them shipped to your address. Make your trip to the VMT gift shop a challenge. See how many people on your Christmas gift list can be taken care of with one stop.

Destinations is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1-5 pm. Come in VMT’s main entrance and turn to the right. You do not have to purchase museum admission just to shop. Of course, if while you're there you find this irresistible urge ....

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Collections and Connections

This and that:

The Messimer Collection has had its grand opening. Housed in the front of the museum, near the gift shop, the exhibit displays an abundance of Greyhound bus memorabilia covering three-quarters of a century. The exhibit also includes Trailways items, a full size front of an Abbott Trailways bus and photos of local transit buses provided by the Commonwealth Coach and Trolley Museum of Roanoke.

Located in the same area is a new display celebrating Roanoke’s “other” railroad, the Virginian Railway. Though much smaller than the Norfolk and Western, the Virginian competed neck-and-neck with the N&W hauling West Virginia coal to Norfolk. The two railroads merged in 1959. This area is not finished. We plan to do a formal opening once the storyboards are completed and mounted.


VMT is in negotiations with two other Virginia museums regarding the N&W locomotives at the Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Company property. Hopefully the remaining vintage steam locos can be salvaged through a cooperative effort. We’ll keep you posted.

This week the museum unveils the Jim Hyams serigraph collection. Serigraphs are prints made using the silkscreen process. The result is highly detailed paints of an almost photographic quality. Afterward the screens are destroyed, limiting the print run to a small number, sometimes only one.

The collection is being displayed at VMT in conjunction with the Roanoke Arts Festival and will remain there through the end of the year. The transportation-related serigraphs were produced by some of the premier artists in the genre.


Soon we will feature a locomotive cab inside our building. Norfolk Southern donated the cab after converting an SD-40 diesel electric into a “calf,” a unit that cannot be operated solo but is lashed together with other locomotives to provide additional power. The six-axle SD40 was manufactured by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division beginning in 1966 and became the best-selling locomotive of all time.

The cab should be in place early in 2009. It will allow visitors to experience the inside of a diesel loco. In the future we hope to add a locomotive simulator to our collection.

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