of the International Association of Transport and Communications Museums Volume 28 · 2009 Museums
of the International Association of
Transport and Communications Museums
Volume 28 · 2009
Journal Transport+Communications Museums
Transport+Communications Museums
of the International Association of
Transport and Communications Museums
Volume 28 · 2009
The opinions expressed by the individual authors are not
necessarily those of the IATM, its Board or the Editor.
Permission for reprints can be obtained from the Secretary
of the IATM.
© Copyright IATM 2009
All rights reserved.
Cover image:
Poster: courtesy the National Railway Museum (NRM),
The Journal can be obtained from the President of the
International Association of Transport Museums:
Dr. Michael Dünnebier
Verkehrsmuseum Dresden
Augustusstrasse 1,
D-01067 Dresden
IATM members paying annual membership fees receive
one copy of each Journalfree of charge.
Published for IATM by the
Verkehrsmuseum Dresden, Germany.
IATM Editor:
Christopher J. Terry
648 Denbury Avenue
Ottawa, ON K2A 2P3
Holger Friebel
FRIEBEL Werbeagentur und Verlag GmbH
Pillnitzer Landstraße 37, D-01326 Dresden
ISBN-13: 978-3-936240-24-5
ISBN-10: 3-936240-24-8
Comments from the President and the Editor .....................................................................................................................9
Papers Delivered At The 2006 Conference Of The Conference
Of European Communications Museums, Copenhagen.
Anniversary of the First Russian Postage Stamp
Lyudmila N. Bakayutova, Director, A.S. Popov Central Museum of Communication,
St Petersburg, Russian Federation.................................................................................................................................... 10
Survey of Museum Accreditation Schemes Around the World
Mark Steadman, formerly with the Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark............................................................. 15
New Trends In the Use of Stamps in Communication
Erik Jensen, Senior Curator, Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark....................................................................... 18
Stamp Activities for Children at the Post & Tele Museum
Liv Skovholm, Head of Public Relations, Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark.................................................... 25
Websites As A Component in Museum Information Systems
Nina Borisova, Vice-Director, A.S. Popov Central Museum of Communication,
St Petersburg, Russian Federation......................................................................................................................................27
Papers Delivered At The 2007 Conference Of The International Association
Of Transport And Communications Museums, York.
Museum Partnerships: Challenges and Opportunities
Anthony Smyth, Director General, Canada Aviation Museum, Ottawa, Canada ............................................................... 32
Railways as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Günter Dinhobl, OBB Infrastructur-Bau AG, Austria .........................................................................................................41
Railway Museums in Brazil: State Politics and the Rise of the Volunteer Museum
Martin Cooper, Institute of Railway Studies & Transport History,
University of York/National Railway Museum, England ................................................................................................... 51
The Small Independent Museum – thriving in a complex environment?
Sophie Forgan, Chairman, Trustees of the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, England ....................................... 57
Challenge and Opportunities for Railway Carriage Preservation in the UK
Michael Cope, Trustee, Vintage Carriages Trust, England .................................................................................................63
Miscellaneous Papers
The Ambassadors –Stamps in the Service of Integration
Henrik Rem Rasmussen, Educational Officer, Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark............................................69
The program for the 2009 IATM Conference in Dresden and Nuremberg, Germany
with pre and post conference tours. ...................................................................................................................................72
Welcome to Volume 28 of the Journalof the International
Association of Transport and Communications Museums.
Throughout its history, the Journalhad been issued on a
periodic basis and we would have wished that this issue
had seen the light of day before now. However, the issues
of the production of publications such as this within volun-
teer organizations like ours militated against an earlier
result. We can only hope that the breadth and depth of the
contents help to make up for this tardiness.
Within the pages of this Journalyou will find a wide-
ranging series of papers, primarily resulting from presenta-
tions at the bi-annual conferences of IATM and Conference
of European Communications Museums (CECOMM) since
2006. We make no apology for reaching back into the recent
past to share many of these papers with our members and
readers in general. Space concerns have prevented the
inclusion of several of them in the past despite their perti-
nence to our museum community. Taken as a group they
cover a wide range of themes within a variety of museums
comprising the membership of our Association.
We have papers on partnerships, museum management,
conservation, exhibition development, accreditation, web -
site and IT systems development, commemorations, inter-
national designations, collection development and vo -
lunteerism. The papers reflect experience in aviation, nau-
tical, rail, postal and communications museums as well as
in the related not-for-profit trust sectors and volunteer or-
ganizations operating in support of heritage preservation.
We touch on activities in Canada, Great Britain, Germany,
Brazil, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and importantly,
Russia. In assembling these papers we have been struck by
the wealth of experience and perspective that our members
bring to bear on the challenges we all face in our efforts to
preserve and interpret technological material culture.
It speaks to the strength of our community.
It also relates to a key element of the overall strategy
adopted by the IATM to guide its work in improving the
quality of the work of its members in the service of society,
visitors and customers.
The Board has adopted a strategic framework to achieve
these goals based on four fundamental types of activity.
These are: promoting the professional development of staff;
promoting and sharing best practice; advocating and facil-
itating co-operation among member museums; and
strengthening the community of transport and communi-
cations museums and enhancing their reputation within
the broader museum sector.
Key to the success of this strategy is the availability of
appropriate communication vehicles and to that end IATM
will be taking steps to ensure that members will receive
timely updates on events of interest, conference proceed-
ings and research reports submitted for publication. This
will ensure that the largest number of members derive the
highest level of value possible from our work. It will help
us to promote professional practice and help with the pro-
fessional development of staff – two of our main strategic
We look forward to your participation in and support for
this process.
Comments From the President and the Editor
Michael Dünnebier Christopher Terry
IATM President IATM Editor
Brief History of the Creation
of the First Russian Stamp
In 1851 General Vladimir Adlerberg, the chief of the Post
Department, seconded Alexey Charukovskiy, an official of
the Department, abroad to study the postage business.
During that trip Charukovskiy learned many new and in-
teresting things. In England he visited the printing house
of “Perkins, Bacon and Pitch”, where postage stamps were
printed, and very carefully examined the entire production
process. He visited a printing house in Munich, where the
first German postage stamp, sub-
sequently called the “Black One”,
had been printed in 1849. He also
visited a printing house in
Leipzig, where a common postage
stamp later called the “Saxon
Three” was being printed.
Charukovskiy learned the
postage regulations “About Intro-
duction of Postage Stamps and
Procedure for Their Use” in Prus-
sia. In France he closely observed
the work of mail van workers.
Thus, in London, Munich, Paris
and Leipzig Charukovskiy
learned the technology of postage
stamps issued at a time when the
printing houses printed common postage stamps, such as
“Penny Black”, the “Black One”, and the “Saxon Three”
that subsequently became legendary.
Back in St. Petersburg with a great store of impressions,
knowledge and information on the issuing of postage
stamps, Charukovskiy wrote a note “About the introduction
of stamps in Russia”. However, the outbreak of the Crimean
War in 1853 postponed consideration of his proposals. Only
at the end of 1855 was it suggested he resume his work on
stamp design.
Anniversary of the First Russian
Postage Stamp in Russia
L.N. Bakayutova, Director,
A.S. Popov Central Communication Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
This paper was presented at the Conference of European Communications Museums (CECOMM)
in Copenhagen in November 2006. It deals with the forthcoming commemorative activities
to mark the 150
th anniversary of the first postage stamp issue in Russia in 2007. The Ministry of
Information Technologies, the Federal Communication Agency, FGUP “Post of Russia”,
ITC “Stamp”, the A.S. Popov Central Communication Museum and the Government of St.Peters-
burg are preparing celebrations dedicated to this event, which will take place in St.Petersburg
from June 19 to 25, 2007
The Kepler design for the Uncancelled angle pair of Russian Stamp No. 1
first postage stamp issued
in Russia.
Several versions of the first Russian stamp design were
made by specialists of the Expedition for Public Papers
Preparation (ESPP). Of them, the version of senior engraver
Frantz Kepler was selected, which became the first postage
stamp of Russia.
Originals of those designs are presented in the collection
of the A.S. Popov Central Communication Museum and in
private collections acquired from the collection of O.A.
Fabergé, which was exhibited at the philatelic exhibition
However, one should not think that appearance of the
postage stamp in Russia was a smooth process. It took the
government considerable time to solve the problems of
issue, accept the form, design and color, and determine a
publishing house for printing stamps. Only on December
10, 1857 was the final circular of the Post Department
“About Introduction of Postage Stamps for Common Use”
issued, based on which postage stamps were brought into
circulation from January 1, 1858 in European part of Russia,
and from March 1, 1858 in the Caucuses, Transcaucuses and
Siberia. The Annex to the circular contained rules for the
sale, storage and use of stamps. Thus, the process of the
Russian postage stamp issue took almost seven years.
However, Russia faced difficulties in implementing the
The façade
of the Museum
The Treasury
the Collection
new system that the specialists of the ESPP had foreseen:
the perforation machine purchased in Vienna was badly
delayed and then required adjustment. Therefore, the first
issue of the Russian postage stamp No. 1 with nominal
value of 10 kopeks had no indents. The number of copies
was large – some 3 million copies. Nevertheless, at present
one can rarely come across the Russian stamp No. 1 without
indents. The state collection of postage notes of the Russian
Federation in our Museum contains a unique uncancelled
angle pair of the stamp No. 1, which is in ideal condition.
It was exhibited at the exhibition “One Hundred Rarities of
the World Philately” in the Stamps and Coins Museum of
Monaco in 2000, and was included in the catalogue of that
State Collection of the
Russian Federation
The state collection of postage notes of the Russian Feder-
ation is formed by the Federal Agency for Communication
of the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communi-
cation of the Russian Federation, which is also responsible
for their issue and distribution. The custodian of the state
collection of postage notes in accordance with the Regula-
tions on the Federal Agency for Communication is the A.S.
Popov Central Communication Museum. After amalgama-
tion of the Post and Telegraph Departments into a single
agency – the Main Department for Post and Telegraph
Offices within the Ministry of Internal Affairs – the post
collections migrated to the Telegraph Museum in St.Peters-
burg, where a post department was opened.
The year 1884 is also considered to be the year of estab-
lishment of the state collection of postage notes of Russia,
which at present numbers nearly 8 million stock units.
At present, the employees of the Museum are creating an
electronic catalogue of the museum’s stocks, including
those of postage notes. The catalogue provides opportuni-
ties for research work with collections, and provides con-
venient recording and search mechanisms. A more
extensive discussion of the process will be found in the
paper by Nina Borisova elsewhere in this Journal.
The Museum
The A.S. Popov Central Communication Museum founded
in 1872 is a unique place, where rare samples of communi-
cation equipment and latest achievements in telecommu-
nications, as well as the most valuable philatelic materials
and art-innovations of mail-artists are collected.
Collections of the Central Communication Museum are na-
tional property of Russia. They are included in the State Cat-
alogue of the Museum Stocks of the Russian Federation.
The Collection numbers over eight million stock units. The
revival of the Museum began in 2000 on the initiative of the
Ministry of the Russian Federation for Communication and
Informatization. In December 2003 the A.S. Popov Central
Communication Museum opened its doors for visitors after
a thirty-year break.
Storage and Exhibiting
Since 2003 the “Treasury of Russian Postage Notes” has
been opened for free access, where 1,300 historic paper-
based relics are presented. One can get acquainted with the
rarities presented in the Treasury with the help of special-
ists of the research department upon preliminary orders for
small groups of visitors (maximum 12 people each). The
German-made equipment for exhibiting and the storage of
artifacts represents the best available in the world. Special
The Communications Centre in the Atrium Museum Services
equipment allows the museum to ensure the required stor-
age conditions for the collection and to extend the exhibi-
tion space. Specialists have an opportunity to become
acquainted with the Museum’s collection upon preliminary
request with payment for the works at the going rates.
Basic stock storages are located in the main building of
the Museum and equipped with modern equipment in
accordance with the requirements for the storage of historic
paper-based artifacts: metal shelves, card indexes, acid free
paper, albums.
At present, a general collection of postage notes to be pre-
sented in chronological order “from the first stamp to the
most recent issues” is being prepared for exhibition. It will
be presented for general display in the “History of Post” sec-
tion within the permanent exposition of the Museum in
cabinets made to special order. The equipment was manu-
factured in St.Petersburg and meets the modern require-
ments for storage and exhibition conditions; it protects
documents from daylight and ensures necessary humidity.
To ensure greater interest of the visitors, interactive
methods, multimedia means and operational models
are used at the permanent “Post Services” exposition.
Visiting the Treasury is an extraordinary event for every
guest of our Museum, c omparable in terms of emotional im-
pact only with a visit to the Golden Treasury of the State
Hermitage. Skilled specialists of the Museum’s postage
notes research department host tours on topics concerning
the postal circulation of mail in Russia including: the his-
tory of the creation of the first Russian postage stamp;
rarities of the Russian post; Russian postage notes;
unissued postage stamps of Russia; Zemskaya Post; Charity
Letters with announcements of the authority of the Empress
Maria Fyodorovna; the history of creation of the postage
stamp anniversary series dedicated to the 300th anniver-
sary of Romanov’s Home; the history of the creation of
branded products of the Russian Empire; and the creation
of postage stamps in Soviet Russia.
The subjects of tours include:
– a review of museum items of the Treasury with museum
staff from the perspective of art criticism for students of
culture, history and design;
– a review of museum items of the Treasury for museum
workers with demonstrations of methods of display and
technologies for the open storage of postage notes.
Visitors of this exhibition are, primarily, collectors of
postage notes, including children; publishers and post
administration of various countries; dealers and auctio -
neers; historians and art critics; and researchers.
Archive with equipment The History of Russian Post
Part of
the exhibition
with pneumatic
The Treasury is of interest for designers and architects in
terms of hi-tech design with the use of new exhibition and
storage equipment, as well as students of higher educa-
tional establishments for arts, who design stamps and deal
with mail design in the process of their studies. Moreover,
the combination of custodian and exhibition functions is of
permanent interest for representatives of the museum com-
The Museum aims at the enlargement of the historic col-
lection of postage notes with the exhibits that originally
have not been included in the collection, i.e. by means of
filling free spaces from other collections. The Museum
plans to create a system of classes and activities with chil-
dren on the issues of collecting.
Celebration Events
On a national scale, the celebration of the postage stamp
anniversary will include: the “Postage Three-2007” Interna-
tional Forum, including an exhibition of modern post
equipment and new technologies, and a conference dedi-
cated to development of postal services in the world to be
attended by representatives of the member countries of the
World Post Union. This Forum will take place in the build-
ing of the A.S. Popov Central Communication Museum.
At the same time the World Philately Federation will hold
the “St.Petersburg-2007” International Exhibition, where
private collectors, post administrations, auction and trade
houses from various countries of the world will demon-
strate their collections.
In the framework of these events, the A.S. Popov Central
Communication Museum will arrange its own program for
the guests of the celebrations: the inauguration of the
renewed exhibition on history of post services with a dis-
play of the general collection of postage stamps in chrono-
logical order.
The program will include:
– Tours to the stock storage with free access.
– Retrospective mail-art exhibition.
– Mail-art master-class with participation of the children’s
arts school of the Hermitage (famous artists + students
of the arts school).
– A roundtable dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the
first Russian postage stamp (research on stamp design
– A roundtable for museum workers on the storage of
paper-based cultural material “Technologies of Postage
Notes Storage and Exhibiting in Museums” using our
Museum as an example.
We expect a broad and diverse circle of visitors including
representatives of post administrations from the countries
of the World Postal Union, private collectors, and develop-
ers of new post technologies.
Emphasis and Prospects of the Museum
Our plans for the continued development of the Museum
are diverse. They include:
– An exhibition of the technical aspects of the Museum:
collections, chronology, documental confirmation, tech-
nical principles of devices operation, and illustrations of
– Development of exhibitions, programs and events in the
Museum that will attract both specialized and non-
specialist groups of visitors.
– Attraction of traveling exhibitions to hold exhibitions in
our museum.
– Publications of materials that are interesting for special-
ists and the broader public, for example, postal cards,
booklets, catalogues, guide-books, translated magazines
and digests with the most interesting research works.
Participation in popular publications with works of
– Thematic souvenirs.
– Charity issue together with the “Post of Russia” postal
Mail-art exhibition
Promotional stamps
Survey of Museum Accreditation Schemes
Around the World
Mark Steadman, Formerly with the Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen
Measuring up to the competition
Whether they are international standards such as those laid
out by ICOM, or national standards established by more
local museum development agencies, associations and
commissions, museums have been working with best prac-
tice standards, guidelines and quality assurance schemes
for nearly 40 years. As identified by the museums them-
selves, these best practice schemes have benefited profes-
sionalism within the sector; they have helped to improve
museum’s credibility and to clarify a museum’s sense of
mission. They have been used as a performance assessment
and a measurement tool and have helped museums to iden-
tify skills shortfalls and training needs. Indeed, such
schemes have become the single greatest informer and
shaper of the museum process.
But people expect more from today’s museums than ever
before and as a result museums have had to become in-
creasingly aware of the market place in which they operate.
The resulting museum environment is perhaps more com-
petitive now than ever before.
Adopting a more visitor-oriented focus, museums now
consider themselves to be competing not only with other
museums but also with science centres, zoos, even theme
parks, indeed the full gamut of visitor attractions… perhaps
even shopping malls!
As people become increasingly mobile, a museum’s
understanding of its audience and potential visitors also
grows. As a result, advertising and marketing campaigns
are increasingly considering international audiences.
Being part of a broader market place, museums have
recognized that existing museum best practice schemes are
not enough to prepare museums for all that is expected
from them. It is common and frequent that museums now
subscribe and contribute to a wider range of visitor and
tourist attraction orientated standards and award schemes,
such as the Danish Tourist Attraction Quality Label scheme.
Whilst generally speaking such schemes do not attend to
any museological practices and processes per se they have
now become an essential tool in developing a museum’s
competitive edge.
I want to therefore to look briefly at what constitutes mu-
seum best practice schemes, to see what they do for muse-
ums and how far they go in preparing museums for future
changes. Do they enable us to know when we are getting it
right and perhaps more importantly, when we are getting it
wrong? Do they enable museums to measure up to the com-
petition? And for this I want to use the findings of a very
comprehensive report that looks at all the museum best
practice schemes from around the world.
The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in the UK
published the report called “From Australia to Zanzibar” in
2002. It was commissioned to inform a comprehensive re-
development of the UK’s existing best practice scheme and
it identified and mapped standards, guidelines and quality
assurance schemes used by museums across 52 countries.
As a result, the new scheme, called the Museum Accredita-
tion Scheme, was launched in 2004 and continues as the de
facto best practice standard for museums in the UK.
From Australia to Zanzibar
The earliest best practice schemes acknowledged by the
report are the Nova Scotia (Canada) Museum Assistance
Program, which started in 1966 and the schemes produced
by the American Association of Museums in the 1970’s, so
best practice schemes have shaped museums across the
globe for nearly 40 years.
The report identifies two main varieties of scheme (Page
6.16). There is a variety that sets a minimum standard as its
aim such as those found in Italy, the Netherlands and the
UK. And then there is what the report describes as an aspi-
rational variety that aims at promoting excellence and
innovation such as the Norwegian self-assessment scheme
which “aims to help museums obtain an overview of their
strengths and weaknesses and to use this as a basis for
improvement.” Another aspirational scheme, the Latvian
Museum Accreditation Scheme stated an “increase society’s
faith in museums” as its core aim. Of course these schemes
may have developed and changed since 2002 when the re-
port was published, but they still serve well as examples of
the two distinct varieties of scheme.
Interestingly virtually all schemes are voluntary (Page
8.28) although the improved access to grants and funding
streams afforded by subscription to the schemes seems to
make the voluntary point a technicality… as most museums
did consider subscription to such schemes essential.
Whilst not legally mandatory some countries did expect
museums to subscribe to their scheme and failure to do so
would result in loss of funding (such as those in Poland,
Flemish Belgium and Denmark). In Latvia subscription to
the Museum Accreditation was mandatory for all museums
by law, “for every museum that receives state or local
government funding.” (Page 8.28).
The report identified that schemes tend to be well known
within the museum sector but little known by the public
(Page 8.33). This is an interesting observation really… I have
already suggested earlier that generally museums do not to
consider such museum best practice schemes as the tool to
sharpen their visitor focus and the observation made here
by the report, substantiates this. The evidence therefore
seems to suggest that such schemes tend to focus on muse-
ological process rather than visitor experience… for exam-
ple the report mentions that In the Belgian Flemish
Community, improving the quality of the museological
process was the main aim of their scheme and explicitly not
public awareness (Erkende Musea Vlaanderen). Where
there was evidence of an effort to promote to the public any
particular scheme it seemed to extend no further than dis-
playing the particular scheme’s logos on the front of the
museum (9.33). The report identified one exception to this
trend. That is the Museums Accreditation Program in
Victoria (Australia), which was identified as the one mu-
seum best practice scheme that was closest to the visitor
and tourist attraction schemes. The scheme was not only a
museum accreditation scheme proper but is also a nation-
ally endorsed tourism accreditation scheme that promotes
the activities of participating museums through the media.
The main benefits and achievements of museum best
practice schemes as perceived by the museums themselves
were considered to be (Page 9.35):
– An increase in professionalism within the museum
– Improved creditability within the sector
– Improved access to grants and funding streams
– Clearer sense of mission
– A way of assessing and measuring improvements
– Helped with identifying staff training needs
… and that the specific activities that such schemes focused
on were:
– Governance and Management
– Access to professional advice
– Collecting policy, including acquisitions and disposal
– Documentation
– Care of collections
– The public face of the museum
– Financial management
– Occupation of premises (Page 11.45)
This gives us an overall impression of the content, aims and
focus of such schemes and as you will note, there is just one
mention of anything vaguely visitor orientated out of the
points mentioned. It seems clear therefore that such
schemes benefit and improve almost exclusively the back-
of-house ‘museum processes’ and seem not to address very
well issues such as visitor experience and the public face of
the museum!
It seems therefore that in general museum best practice
schemes have and do serve the museological process rea-
sonably well. The evidence suggests that they have encou -
raged and promoted a set of museological best practice
standards that has been to the great benefit of the sector. But
the evidence also indicates that these schemes were not
designed to consider more recent areas of interest such as
vi sitor experience and audience development. The report
also suggests that generally such schemes have been rather
slow to respond to these new perspectives and issues. As
such they seem to test, measure and develop internal muse-
ological processes well but seem a blunt tool in preparing
museums to address new and outward looking perspectives.
The newer museum best practice schemes do offer
hope. To quote from the MLA opening statement to their
new Museum Accreditation Scheme: “The new standard
has been developed… to keep pace with these [new] ex-
pectations. It now gives greater emphasis to the needs and
interests of those who use museums – or who might be en-
couraged to do so in the future”. And indeed the UK’s
Accreditation Scheme is generally held as a model of a
modern museum best practice schemes. It seems a sophis-
ticated governance tool that seeks to develop the full range
of museum operations.
“To develop the full range of museum operations” is an
important point to emphasise here because as there has
been a shift in perspective within museums towards a more
visitor focussed approach there has been a consequential
shift in attitude towards what are traditionally back-of-
house practices such as research and collections manage-
ment. Resources allocated to both of these cornerstones of
museum practice have been dramatically reduced over the
last decade, this especially so with research. Therefore
museums need to think very carefully about shifting focus
and shifting resources so that we protect those cornerstone
operations that make us what we are!
Whilst this concern remains, the new schemes do place
a greater importance on visitors than before (Page 18.78) by
emphasising areas such as marketing, visitor services, ed-
ucation, community outreach and interpretation. New mu-
seum best practice schemes have begun to absorb the
conditions and values of tourist and visitor attraction
schemes but the report suggests that their remains much
work to do in this regard.
The establishment of global networks for the exchange
of information, a stronger emphasis on codes of ethics and
an increase in museum specific training and development
programmes were all listed by the report as key recommen-
dations for future developments.
Touching upon the point just mentioned of developing
global networks for the exchange of information; another
point worth mentioning here briefly is that the existing
museum best practice schemes around the world are geo-
graphically specific and tend not promote standards and
best practice across museums of similar subject or theme,
such as communication or transport museums. The report
does identify this as an area that should be developed by
the existing schemes but at present it is fair to say that their
ability to address cross-subject or thematic standards is
nominal… indeed it is not on their agenda! This makes
organisations such as CECOMM and IATM vital as a tool for
maintaining a set of best practice standards and code of
ethics across specific themes.
So to conclude, it seem that whilst museum best practice
schemes have been with us for around forty years they have
tended to focus primarily on what has been referred to here
as the ‘back-of-house’ museological processes. This they
have done well, but the museum environment has become
increasingly competitive as well as international and as
such many of the existing schemes do not represent a full
tool box for modern museums. However, museum best
practice schemes have begin the process of renewal and
redevelopment and we should feel positive about that but
it still seems a reality that museums still need to contribute
meaningfully to subject specific international organisations
as well as continue their subscriptions and enrolment to the
range of visitor attraction and tourism schemes in order to
maintain that competitive edge and market advantage.
Is the stamp dying? For several years interest in the small
scraps of paper has been declining and is rapidly approa -
ching absolute zero. The implication of this is that interest
may not survive the passing of the relatively few older
people who are today still so interested in stamps that they
continue to collect them.
We have to realize that the stamp in itself no longer at-
tracts visitors and certainly not the young people upon
whom we rely to build our future. In Denmark it has even
come to the point that the national stamp association
closed down its youth section in 2006. It was no longer con-
sidered possible to motivate young people to take part in
the traditional club activities that have been the philatelic
centre of gravity for more than 100 years.
Circumstances in the Post & Tele Museum until 2001
When the present Post & Tele Museum was organized in
1998, the narrative of the stamp and its history formed part
of the permanent presentation in a rather traditional way –
in a chronological context with the history of communica-
tion. Moreover, our Stamp Cabinet presents currently
updated catalogue collections of stamps from Denmark and
its subjacent territories, the Danish West Indies, the Faeroe
Islands, Greenland, and Iceland, from the time when the
stamp issuing was handled from Denmark.
Occasionally, the Stamp Cabinet features small exhibi-
tions of material that underlie the national stamp treasure,
such as drafts, drawings and proofs as well as special col-
lections. Similarly international collections are sometimes
on display, based on the exchange among the member
countries of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) that has
taken place since the 1880s. Unfortunately, we do not
exactly experience a “great migration” to the Stamp Cabinet
– it does not really attract our visitors.
The latest major effort in the stamp field took place in 2001
when the 150
th anniversary of the Danish stamp was cele-
brated by a large exhibition called “My Treasure” in which
New Trends
In the Use of Stamps
in Communication
Erik Jensen, Senior Curator, Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen
Really old stamp collector Picture from the exhibition “My Treasure”
the history of the stamp was set in context with other events
in society of the mid 19th century and spiced with matching
effects. The exhibition contained objects like original
correspondence, rarely exhibited printing equipment,
extensive special collections, and rather unique examples
of the use of the first stamps. As it was our principal special
exhibition that year, we had great expectations to the num-
ber of visitors, but to our disappointment, despite an
intense marketing effort, less than 10,000 made their way
into the exhibition room.
We succeeded in “selling” the complete exhibition for
redisplay at the international stamp exhibition, HAFNIA 01,
which was held over 10 days directly after the closing down
of “My Treasure” in the Post & Tele Museum. It attracted
30,000 people (100,000 had been expected). But as these
30,000 were exclusively individuals with a special interest
in stamps, they do not really count, as we did not succeed
in making them come and see the splendour of the museum
and its collections in and of themselves.
Interior of the Stamp Cabinet
Visitors at a stamp exhibition
Logo of the interna-
tional stamp exhibition
“HAFNIA ’01”
Conclusions at the Post & Tele Museum
We had touched bottom and concluded that new thinking
was required. At that time the updating of the UPU collec-
tions had been more or less suspended, and as it is consi -
dered next to impossible to attract visitors by means of
foreign stamps, the accessions are only being opened and
checked. Cataloguing, registration, and mounting must
wait until there is a special demand or a favourable oppor-
tunity for it. Resources for maintenance of the UPU collec-
tions are no longer available. Other and more obvious parts
of the institution have inevitably seized the momentum.
The new thinking resulted in increased attention on
alternative ways of presentation which place the stamps in
a culture and art-historical context with special focus on the
possibilities for “the small works of art” to function as
actual cultural envoys. The Post & Tele Museum is now using
every opportunity to render them more visible in every
sense of the word and include them actively wherever they
can naturally fill holes in relation to other objects included
in a certain exhibition regardless of theme or subject.
In this way we place the stamps in a culture and art-
historical context and alter the perspective to one of the
presentation of culture. The intention is, among other
things, to reach a broader target group and foster national
identity though we also attempt to include stamps from
other countries to the extent it is feasible.
The Philatelic Aspect
In practice the Post & Tele Museum has realized that the
need for research in the stamp collections has declined
steadily during the last 10 years concurrently with the
increasing age of the interested people. Death has taken its
share, and the intake of young people – which in this
connection means individuals under the age of 50 – has
been limited to less than five, which is far from sufficient to
compensate for the losses.
New Times – from a Philatelist Point of View
In two domains we have tried to change the state of things
in order to move away from past endeavours to “service elder -
ly gentlemen”. In both cases we have taken advantage of
developments within the digital field with arrangement of
relational databases in combination with scanned images.
The first domain is access to the huge collections of phys-
ical impressions of Danish cancellations, which the mu-
seum holds in the shape of preserved cancellations and
impressions of cuts, entire mail items, and postal forms.
Over a period of 10 years, a volunteer has registered all
impressions and completed a total computer registration of
several large, private collections of cancellations with digi -
tal images of all impressions in non-shrink reproductions.
Only the most recently collected data about machine
cancellations and special cancellations needs to be added,
and at the museum we have for the last three years been
Stamps being studied
Danish hand
stamp with
able to reply to any inquiry about manual cancellations
almost instantly whilst in the past we spent hours finding
and copying the material of interest.
The other domain is the study of stamp sheets requiring
the physical presence of the interested persons in a special
study cell under supervision. A very large percentage of the
study visits has concentrated on the few selected collec-
tions containing entire sheets of the stamps from Denmark
and its territories, and despite all efforts to the contrary,
some of the sheets have inevitably been marked by repeated
handling and are coming apart. A large part of the Danish
stamps from before 1900 has now been digitized so that
today they are available (on payment) to interested people
without any physical intervention. The intention is to com-
plete the digitization so that the entire presswork
period up to 1933 is eventually covered.
Other Presentation Forms
On six occasions the Post & Tele Museum has implemented
the use of stamps actively from a broader and different
point of view:
1. “The Living and the Dead”
During second half of 2002, Denmark had the EU chairman-
ship and one of the essential matters before the Danish
Government was a clarification of the application from
13 East and South European countries for admission to the
Union. The Post & Tele Museum took the opportunity to
commemorate this important political event by a represen-
tative exhibition of stamps from the 13 countries, a good
example of practical use of the UPU collections and an
excellent opportunity for us to up-date our collections from
the countries in question.
The museum’s collections of foreign stamps are divided
into two main groups, the “living” countries who are still
today issuing stamps, and the “dead” countries where
stamps are no longer issued. Sometimes a new country
Sheet of Denmark’s first postage stamp without perforation
The motif of this Slovenian stamp somewhat matched the
title of our exhibition!
The European Union in 2002 with the 13 applicants marked
in blue color
emerges (e.g. Slovenia) or a formerly independent country
re-emerges (like Latvia), in which case its previously issued
stamps are being transferred from the group of “dead”
countries to the “living” category.
2. Copenhagen – Viewed through its Stamps
In 2004, the Post & Tele Museum published my book
“Copenhagen, Copenhagen – viewed through its stamps”
which introduced two very special city walks in stamp
artists’ Copenhagen. The book contains beautiful colour-
reproductions of 47 stamps and three proofs with motifs
from central Copenhagen. The walks cover all the well-
known and beloved buildings as well as places you would
normally not visit in the city. The motifs of the many stamps
were recreated by a professional photographer whose
assignment was to photograph all the stamp motifs as they
appear on the street scene today.
The book, which is available in both a Danish and an
English edition, was accompanied by an exhibition of a
selection of considerably enlarged stamps and photos in the
foyer of the museum and has sold really well. The Post &
Tele Museum is contemplating repeating the project at
some point – again with the national stamp treasure as the
starting point.
3. Hans Christian Andersen
2005 marked the 200th birth-
day of the famous Danish
writer Hans Christian Ander-
sen. The event was, of course,
celebrated by a profusion of
events in Denmark as well as
in many other countries all
over the world. The Post &
Tele Museum jumped on the
gravy train and for a whole
year we exhibited all that we
had of stamp-related material.
Moreover, we introduced a
so-called “walk on your own”
activity for children and their parents/grandparents with a
small folder containing practical tasks to be solved at spe-
cial posts placed in the permanent exhibition. The activity
became a huge success; however, it was not our impression
that the stamp exhibition itself elicited great interest.
The front page of the book Danish Andersen-stamps and Christmas seals
A group of guided guests
in front of Hans
Christian Andersen
Nevertheless, we experienced some success in the stamp
field when the Post & Tele Museum was contacted by both
the Philatelic Museum of Singapore and the Communica-
tion Museum of Japan with a view to borrowing stamp ma-
terial (and for Japan also actual objects) for special
exhibitions. To put the original drafts and drawings for
Hans Christian Andersen stamps at their disposal was out
of the question, but we offered lifelike colour-copies of what
we ourselves wanted to exhibit and both borrowers ac-
cepted to make do with the copies.
The exhibition in Japan about Hans Christian Andersen’s
relation to the post and telegraph service of his time took
place in November–December 2005 and was seen by 3,368
visitors. The total number of visitors at the Hans Christian
Andersen exhibition in the Philat elic Museum of Singapore
during the period April 2005–January 2006 reached impres-
sively 68,000! With a little ingenuity the two exhibitions
may be categorized as travelling exhibitions and at least the
special philatelic exhibition can be recreated and made
available to others in case of interest.
4. Zeppelin Stamps
In 2006, the Post & Tele Museum successfully created a special
exhibition about zeppelins that, thanks to loans from many
obliging museums, made it possible for the first time to give
Danes an understanding of the possibilities of communica-
tions by air in the early 20
th century. Apart from a few mail
items conveyed by zeppelins, the Post & Tele Museum did
not possess any original objects related to the subject. And
yet: We had the UPU collections. Going through a special
catalogue of philatelic topics concerning airships we man-
aged to identify and take out 146 different stamps from all
over the world featuring zeppelin motifs with a view to
scanning and using them as décor in the exhibition and as
pictures in relevant contexts. The stamps were mounted
especially for the occasion and exhibited together with a
selection of colourful zeppelin mail items right outside the
exhibition itself as an appetizer.
This is another example of how to include stamps actively
as an appendix to a larger presentation worth seeing. The
UPU collections contain many possibilities of practical use
if the idea is incorporated in the course of events at an early
stage and resources are reserved for the necessary handling
of the material.
5. My Country – Your Country
With the museum’s extensive collection of Danish and
foreign stamps as a starting point, the Post & Tele Museum
created the framework for Danes with ethnic backgrounds
other than Danish to present the history of their native coun-
try through that country’s stamps. Henrik Rem Rasmussen
explains this activity more fully in a companion article.
6. Draw your own “Stamp”
As previously mentioned, stamps in themselves are no longer
attracting visitors, and certainly not young people. However,
this assertion does not hold water when you look at the re-
sults of the museum’s stamp activities for families and
schools. Here the museum has managed to inspire a
fascination with stamps among children at the age of 6
to 10 years.
Since the opening of the museum in 1998, educational
courses with focus on stamps have formed an essential part
Picture for PTM’s zeppelin poster
Russian zeppelin-stamp from the 1930s
of the Post & Tele Museum’s educational programme. The
museum offers an activity where children draw their own
“stamp” and start their own stamp collection. Teachers can
download educational material from homepage free of
charge and use it for preparation prior to the visit, and
when a class comes to the museum both activities are
commenced with a guided tour in the museum’s permanent
exhibition with a special focus on postal history and the
history of the stamp.
Each pupil then produces a drawing 8 times larger than
the final stamp. The drawing is scanned, printed on stamp
paper, and sent to the school after the visit. In this way, the
children obtain a good sense of the contemplations that
may lie behind the design of real stamps and they get some-
thing from the museum that they can use directly. Further-
more, they pick and choose 10 original Danish cancelled
stamps and like real stamp collectors present them as they
prefer. These small stamp collections are used as the start-
ing point to discuss what a stamp is, why it looks the way it
does, and what stories stamps are telling. In this way the
pupils acquire an understanding of the significance of the
stamp – concretely as well as in a culture-historical per-
spective. The stamp activities account for a considerable
share of the booked school visits, which is still increasing.
For the last three years we have also been offering “Draw
your own Stamp” to all visitors during the summer holiday
with great success. The activity is relatively easy to arrange
and gives the museum a lot of goodwill and good publicity.
It even attracts visitors who do not normally visit the
While some may feel that the activity “Draw your own
Stamp” is populist, we feel that if it augments the interest
in stamps and their history, it is a positive step. In a time
when the focus is more and more on the “eventful” when
families go for an outing, this is the right road to take as
long as we are not compromising our professionalism. More
information on this program is contained in an article by
my colleague Liv Skovholm.
Future Collaboration – Establishment of Networks
All museums are wary of the traditional philatelist angle
and some have found new ways to use stamps like the
above-mentioned good examples. By now, many more mu-
seums of communication should to be ready to give their
stamps a chance as presenters of culture, and not just as
dusty collector’s items. In short: Down with the traditional
philatelic approach! The time has come for new thinking.
Stamps not only may be, but are, in fact, brilliant presenters
of culture – nationally as well as internationally. Just look
at the many, fantastic, internet-based presentations of
stamps that are accessible today. We ought to and are
certainly able to present stamps in a similar way, not only
digitally, but also in our own exhibitions, and – maybe– in
travelling exhibitions across the borders. It is just a matter
of finding approaches that interest the general public.
The Post & Tele Museum is willing to act as coordinator
of the initiatives which have proved successful within the
individual museums and which they are hopefully willing
to share with their colleagues. I would therefore like to
encourage everybody to join “the philatelist museum
network” (or what we should call such a network), spread
the knowledge of its existence, and by e-mail inform the
Post & Tele Museum so that we can establish an address
database to communicate “good news” and offers as well
as requests for contact and information.
We are looking for eye-openers and new ideas for
presentation as well as product development towards best
practice contrary to business as usual. We wish to debate
and ransack the inventiveness, discuss new presentation
initiatives, and if possible, find something that may be of
international interest.
Mutual website for the UPU and the WADP (World’s Asso-
ciation for the Development of Philately) The logo of PTM
In other papers it has been noted that stamps in themselves
are no longer attracting visitors, and certainly not young
people. This assertion is correct when you contemplate the
interest in collecting stamps and seeing traditional stamp
exhibitions. But luckily it does not hold water when you
look at the results of the museum’s presentation of stamps
to families and schools. Here our stamp activities have
revealed an increasing interest in the subject since the
museum opened in 1998. It is true that the children’s inte -
rest declines when they reach their teens, but the museum
has managed to inspire a fascination with stamps among
children at the age of 6 to 10 years.
This development is very much in line with the strategy
and objectives of Post & Tele Museum. The museum’s main
target group is “the typical Danish family” and especially
the users of educational institutions in Denmark.
The strategy and objectives of the museum imply, among
other things, the following:
The museum attaches great importance to offering edu-
cational courses to schools with a high degree of profession-
alism and a broad variety of subjects catering to different
age groups. Moreover, we are developing educational acti -
vities connected to the changing exhibitions at the museum
and constantly updating the entire programme in tune with
what is happening outside our walls.
The museum offers hands-on activities to families with
young children, in connection with temporary exhibitions
as well as school holidays or the like.
Educational Activities
Since the museum opened in 1998 educational courses with
a focus on stamps have formed an essential part of the
museum’s educational programme. The museum offers two
different activities; one where you can draw your own
“stamp”, and one where you can start your own stamp
In 2005, the museum also developed educational mate-
rial that teachers can access on our homepage free of charge
in preparation for the visit. Here the teacher can read about
the history of the stamp, details of the printing process,
guidelines for issuing Danish stamps, a stamp language
and the world’s most expensive stamp. There are also pro-
posals for educational courses, a reading list, and links.
Unfortunately, the text has not been translated into English,
as our target group is Danish schools.
When a class comes to the museum both activities begin
with a guided tour in the museum’s permanent exhibition
with special focus on postal history and the history of the
Draw your own “Stamp”
Each pupil produces a drawing 8 times larger than the final
stamp. The drawing is scanned, printed on stamp paper, and
sent to the school after the visit. For security reasons the
“stamps” must not feature any indication of country or value.
By drawing their own “stamp” the children obtain a good
sense of the considerations that may lie behind the design
of real stamps and they get something from the museum,
which they can use directly. The “stamps” can be put on
letters for their family and friends just like Christmas seals
or they can be exchanged with classmates.
Start your own stamp collection
The pupils are assigned the task of detaching original Danish
cancelled stamps from envelopes by soaking them in tepid
water. Like real stamp collectors, the pupils can subsequently
collect certain stamps and present them as they prefer.
The pupils’ stamp collections are used as the starting
point to discuss what a stamp is, why it looks the way it
does, and the story stamps tell. In this way the pupils
acquire an understanding of the significance of the stamp –
concretely as well as in a culture-historical perspective.
Number of Visitors
The number of school visits to the two activities is in -
creasing. In 2005 the stamp activities accounted for 13 %
of the total number of bookings. In 2006 the share had
risen to 18 %.
Stamp Activities for Children
at Post & Tele Museum
Liv Skovholm, Communications Officer, Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen
Children drawing their own stamp
The increase stems primarily from an increase in the
number of bookings for the “Draw your own Stamp”
programme. Take-up increased by 62 % from 2005 to 2006,
primarily because we began to offer the activity during the
Activities for Families:
The Summer Holiday
For the last two years we have been offering the activity
“Draw your own Stamp” to all the museum’s visitors during
the summer holiday. The activity is free when the entrance
fee is paid and it has been a great success. The first year it
had more than 8,000 visitors during the 12 weeks it was of-
fered. The activity is relatively easy to arrange – and people
are queuing up! However, it is not without costs. Toner for
the printer and stamp paper are quite expensive; still the ac-
tivity gives the museum a lot of goodwill and good publicity
and attracts visitors who do not normally visit the museum.
The Culture Night
The Culture Night has existed in Copenhagen for 11 years.
On one night in October museums, institutions, and shops
stay extraordinarily open from 6 p.m. to midnight, and in
2006 the event attracted 65,000 guests. We have been par-
ticipating in the Culture Night since the opening of the
museum in 1998 and during most of the years we have been
offering the activity “Draw your own Stamp”. The number
of visitors to the activity on that evening is continuously
increasing. This year 800 stamps were drawn. The museum
had 3,460 visitors on the Culture Night this year.
Before we proceed to the main topic of the report, let us say
a few words on how websites of Russian museums are
represented on the Internet and whether at least some of
them could be regarded as examples of “best practice”.
We note that as of the date of this paper Russia still does
not belong to the most developed segment of the Internet
world market. In terms of such indicators as the total num-
ber of Internet users and visitors of various sites, Russia is
considerably behind advanced technological countries of
the world. This was especially evident in the mid-90s.
In the beginning of 1996, the Internet had practically no
content that reflected information on the cultural and his-
toric heritage of Russia. In fact, no museum had its own
website. Separate web pages about museums were placed
in reference resources on city websites (basically, of Mos-
cow and St Petersburg) or those of government depart-
ments. Primary information about museums on the Internet
was confined to the electronic reference information on
museum collections, its contacts and hours of operation.
It is known that cultural institutions around the world
have financial problems and Russia is no exception. How-
ever, problems of representing Russian museums on the
Internet proved to be particularly pronounced compared to
other countries. The reason is that the peak of the develop-
ment of museum representation on the Internet coincided
with the “perestroika” years in Russia. On the one hand,
these were years of serious financial difficulties, while on
the other hand this was the time in Russia when private
capital was formed and foreign sponsors demonstrated
their high interest in cultural heritage of Russia. It is exactly
in the 90s that first sponsored projects emerged. They
were implemented through the financial support of private
Russian and foreign companies and foundations. There-
fore, though a bit later than was the case elsewhere,
Russian museums started creating Internet content using
foreign experience, the achievements of high technologies
and advanced ideas of museum science.
An example of this may be seen on the website for the Her-
mitage http://www.hermitage.ru. In 1997, the IBM Corpora-
tion invested $2 million in the project implemented in
cooperation with the Hermitage. Those funds were used for
four purposes: establishment of the Studio of Digital Image
Preparation, the Educational Center, the Information stands
and for the development of new technologies for the website.
Financial support from the international community
enabled Russian museums to create web resources.
One example was the “Museums of Russia” portal
http://www.museum.ru. Since 1996, the portal has been de-
veloped by a noncommercial organization “Russian Net-
work of Cultural Heritage” supported by Russian and
foreign sponsors. The “Museums of Russia” portal was
granted over 30 awards, and is in the 100 best Russian sites.
Among the sites devoted to issues of culture, the “Museums
of Russia” portal comes first in terms of the index of
citations (2000) and number of visits (3 million). One of the
functions of these web resources developed for potential
visitors of the museums is an integrated information
resource. This is not the main function though. A more
Websites As Components
Of Museum Information Systems
Nina Borisova, Science Director,
A.S. Popov Central Communication Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
This paper presents an approach to the treatment of a museum website as a complex information
resource. It features the experience of this approach in the A.S. Popov Central Museum of Com-
munications (Russia). The museum website was designed as a component of the museum infor-
mation system using the electronic collection database, a unified means of exposition technical
support and unified software for control over the website content and multimedia workplaces in
exhibitions. The history of development of museum web resources in Russia is also described.
important function is the organization of mutually bene -
ficial partnerships. “Museums of Russia” portal cooperates
with basic mass media, information agencies, Internet
portals, educational establishments and, certainly, mu-
seum organizations. Unfortunately, the English version of
this portal is under development and, consequently, is not
yet available to the wider world community.
Today, fortunately, many websites of Russian museums
have English versions. And if you wish to have an idea of
what Russian museum sites are like, you will see that they
are both numerous (thanks to the support of different spon-
sors) as well as bright and informative (due to the high qual-
ifications of museum employees). For exhibiting museum
collections, modern technologies are widely applied
(thanks to inexpensive services of highly qualified Russian
Therefore, summing up the introductory part of the
report, it can be seen that contemporary Russian museum
web resources do not lag behind their foreign counterparts
and that the experience of some museums can certainly be
regarded as the ‘best practice’.
We used this experience in the development of the web-
site of our museum. We also introduced many new things
in keeping with the telecommunication nature of the
museum’s subjects matter. We are ready to share both our
positive and negative experiences for introducing these new
technologies in museum activities.
The story of creation of our web resources is similar to the
above described site development scheme: first (in 2000,
when the museum was not open due to the emergency con-
dition of the building) we created a web page on the Russian
Ministry of Communication site (http://www.minsvyaz.ru).
Table 1: Description of various kinds of websites
Date of
Basic characteristics Tasks Graphic representation
2000 Site – “visiting card” Brief information on the museum,
its collections, exhibits. Contact
information and location map.
2003 Advertising and presen-
tation site with a possi-
bility of regular updating
Detailed information on the
museum, its collections, exhibits.
Virtual acquaintance with the
exhibits. News block.
2007 Integrated museum
informational resource
Dynamic reflection of the museum
development, new museum projects.
Interactivity and multimedia.
Targeted at various age groups.
Possibi lity of online search and order
of information, souvenirs, booking
of tickets.
Then in 2003, when the museum started working after the
building restoration we developed a new website
(http://rustelecom-museum.ru) with considerably expanded
possibilities and the ca pability to update contents and news
on a regular basis. In the future, (in 2007, when the construc-
tion of the exhibits in the reconstructed building of the mu-
seum is completed), we are planning to take a new look at
the concept of the website and provide it with a new
version based on modern information systems. The new
concept will be based upon the approach to a website as to
an integrated museum information resource.
In order to identify the difference between the new and
the previous approaches, let us look at the Table 1, repre-
senting tasks solved by the our previous web sites, as well
as long-run objectives faced by the new website.
The representation of various images of a rose used in
different stages of development of websites allows the
development process to become clear: first the image is flat
and schematic, then it is fresh, bright and provides a
possibility of detailed examination, in the long run we are
planning various interactive possibilities on request
targeted at users of all age groups.
The implementation of such websites requires a good in-
formation system for the museum. The information system of
the museum is a tool for focusing on priority museum acti-
vities, which in our case includes the collection, the storage
and display of artifacts, the archives and postal charge
signs. This tool consists of many components, such as in-
formation, procedures, personnel, external sources and
consumers of information, plus the hardware and software
that determine the IT infrastructure. We think that a website
of a technical museum is not only a welcoming door to the
museum and a collection guide, but also serves as a pow-
erful means of education and development of visitors’ cre-
ative abilities and a means of exciting their interest in the
difficult profession of an engineer. That was our aim in 2003
when the building was under reconstruction and the infor-
mation and communication (IT) infrastructure of the mu-
seum was being created. We did some preparatory work
aimed at the attraction of both real and virtual visitors. It is
appropriate to recall here Abraham Lincoln’s words on the
significance of preparatory work. “If I had eight hours to
chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe”.
Concerning our museum, the primary preparatory opera -
tions included the following tasks:
– Building up of the museum IT infrastructure
– Development of a common application software that
controls the website content and multimedia means of
the exhibits on the base of Intranet/Internet techno -
– Creating an electronic database of collections.
Let us take a closer look at each task and identify their
interrelation with the website.
Building up of the museum IT infrastructure.
The reconstructed building of the museum has a structured
cable network serving as a basis for a modern local network
implementing the tasks of traffic transfer, data transfer and
Place of the website
in the museum in-
formation system.
Information System
(system and technical component)
– Telecommunication network
transport medium, user access
(telephone and data transfer
– Network eqiupment
(servers, local computer
– Software
– Informational support
– Organizational support
Structure being above
(applied functionality)
Developments providing the infor-
mation system with applied tasks
(databases, museum programs,
programs of web site support etc)
telephony, both for exhibits and for museum personnel.
If we look at Figure1 we can see that the IT infrastructure
provides a basis for application programs including
programs of the website support.
The information complex of our museum is of a distri -
buted character. The whole range of tasks to be im ple -
mented is distributed in separate servers in order to avoid
a single destruction point. The logic scheme of the server
complex supporting the museum information system is
given in Figure 2.
The museum information system includes a number of
standard purpose servers. In this part of our report, we
should draw attention to the WWW Server which ensures
functioning of the website and Internet services; to the
protection Firewall devices; to the Video Server; and to
database servers (MS SQL and ORACLE).
Development of a common application softare that w
controls the web site content and multimedia means of the
exhibits on the base of the Intranet/Internet technologies.
A modern museum, let alone a technical museum, cannot
exist without multimedia equipment. The concept of the A.
S. Popov Central Museum of Communications is to show
not only the history of equipment but also modern achieve-
ments, including those in the fields of information tech-
nologies and multimedia equipment. That is how the
exhibits of our museum and its information system were
built up.
Multimedia equipment provides an opportunity to
“enliven” noteworthy older exhibits, demonstrate archival
video materials, provide more detailed extended informa-
tion on the exhibits and on the museum, for independent
study and tell about opportunities of new technologies. All
this equipment (projection devices, touch-screens, plasma
panels, web cameras controlled by computers) is conditio -
nally called “exhibition automated working places” in our
museum. Actually, a more traditional museum term “infor-
mation stand” describing their purpose could be used for
them, but our multimedia facilities are diverse and differ
from each other constructively. They are included in the
communication network of the museum, and there is a
possibility to control them centrally. That is why we chose
the term “visitor’s automated working place”.
Today, there are about 50 such places. Provision of this
Server complex supporting museum information system.
number of multimedia facilities with interesting thematic
information was just impossible within such a short period.
Beside, we could not follow the way typical of most muse-
ums, that is to create an exclusive program product for each
automated working place (including information stand).
Firstly, it was impossible because of lack of time, scenarios
for multimedia products and restricted financing of these
topics. Secondly, a technical museum is specific in terms of
fast deterioration of information: it is especially true for
telecommunications and information technologies.
Considering all these circumstances, we implemented a
variant not traditional for museums: we created a flexible
network information system with special software and a
number of design patterns for the historic part of the expo-
sition and for the “Modern Communication” exposition.
This system enables fast updating of everything demon-
strated by multimedia facilities: text, “pictures”, presen -
tations, and video materials. There is a convenient
administrative interface enabling dynamic control of the
content. Dealing with the interface does not require any
programming skills. There are several specially developed
patterns and methods of dealing with them. The mecha-
nism of administrative interface operation similar to the one
described above is used for updating of textual and multi-
media information on the web site of the museum.
Creating an electronic database of collections.
The electronic database of collections is one of the main
elements of the information system playing a very impor-
tant role in various kinds of museum activity, especially
concerning collection records. Here I would like to empha-
size another function connected with searching and obtain-
ing information, reference materials, descriptions and
images of museum items on line. I refer to regulated direct
access from the Internet to the electronic cards of collec-
tions. According to the results of an analysis, complete in-
formation is of no interest to the majority of website visitors.
In order to create an electronic database, we purchased
a museum information system called “CAMIS”. This ORA-
CLE-based system is widely used in Russia for museums of
all types. It proved to be universally applicable for all as-
pects of our collections except a collection of postal charge
signs (PCS). For this collection we had to order a special
module which has allowed us to complete the automated
entry of this information in the fields of “CAMIS” database.
In order to create a reserve copy, we also scanned and
stored in electronic form all PCS cards.
The above-mentioned automated system has another
module called “CAMIS-WEB”. This is an auxiliary to
“CAMIS” system that enables preparation and printing of
catalogues of various museum editions on the Internet
based on the formed database on museum collections. Our
museum has not yet purchased this module, since the num-
ber of collections listed in the database is not extensive.
According to the data available so far, we have entered only
approximately 10% of the information on hand. For the
same reason we do not provide direct access from the Inter-
net into our electronic database.
There are also some other problems with introduction of
the information system that hinder the creation of the
“ideal” website of the future. For instance, in our museum
we use an automated system of booking and sale of tickets
which includes: an automated workplace (AWP) of a cashier
who sells entrance tickets, an AWP of the group tour office,
and an AWP for the accountant/administrator. Theoreti-
cally, this system should permit us to deal with complete
transactions, however in practice it does not work because
Russia has not yet solved the electronic money problem.
Another example is related to technical problems that
may arise if many Internet users simultaneously get access
to multimedia installations at the exhibition. Now, we are
in the process of solving this problem, but it is connected
with expensive improvement and expansion of the
museum IT infrastructure. Here we should stop and think
the problem over – the application of new technologies
should not be an end in itself. Investing money and efforts
in creation and, further, support of an expensive site is
worth doing only if the museum management has clear
goals and expected outcomes for the expenditure such as
what people the museum management wants to see as site
users, what those people should do on the site. That is why
we are not hurrying to open all of our multimedia programs
for all of our website users.
To sum up the report, I would like to reiterate that our
experience proves that a website that can count on the best
development prospects is the website designed as a com-
plex information resource, as a component of the museum
information system using the electronic collection data-
base, unified means of technical support in exhibitions,
unified software for control over the website content and
multimedia workplaces at the exhibition.
Loan Agreements – By far the most common form of part-
nership engaged in by the Canada Aviation Museum, and
undoubtedly by most other museums, is the artifact loan.
Our museum has ten aircraft, as well as many related arti-
facts, on loan throughout Canada and as far away as New
Zealand. The Smithsonian Institution has an active loan
program in the United States, which is also accessible by
foreign borrowers. In fact, the Canada Aviation Museum has
for many years displayed the Fulton Airphibian, which is
just now returning to the Smithsonian Institution’s National
Air and Space Museum.
Loan agreements can serve the interests of both parties.
For the borrower, they offer an opportunity to present to
visi tors items of significance and interest not held in their
own collections. For the lender, they can enhance the
reputation of the museum and interest viewers in making
a trip to the lending museum. From a very practical stand-
point, they can lessen a storage problem.
There are, however, challenges and potential problems
associated with artifact loans, particularly for the lender.
First, if there is a request for a specific object, it must be
determined whether it can be spared and whether it is in,
or easily put in, condition to travel. Then it must be deter-
mined whether the conditions of display in the borrowing
museum are adequate to protect the object. In our case, this
is covered by a facility report completed by the borrower.
Resources must be allocated to moving, sometimes disas-
sembling, packing and shipping the artifact. It must be
clear where financial responsibility lies for shipping and in-
surance. This can be problematic. It is not unknown for a
museum in a difficult financial situation to renege on
covering the shipping costs of returning a borrowed item.
Finally, the borrowing museums sometimes do not live up
to their obligation to give adequate and prominent recog -
nition to the lender and to protect the artifact from damage.
Comprehensive Agreement – Museums can enter into
more comprehensive arrangements when these are seen to
be of mutual benefit. They can cover areas such as loans,
programs and marketing. The Canada Aviation Museum has
Museum Partnerships:
Challenges and Opportunities
By Anthony Smyth
Director General, Canada Aviation Museum, Ottawa, Canada
This paper will present an overview of the various types of partnerships that museums may enter
into and the risks and benefits which each type offers. It will focus largely on partnerships with
other museums, whether through bilateral arrangements or through associations or similar bodies
at the national and international level. At the national level it will look at two differing approaches
taken in Canada and in the United States. At the international level it will examine the develop-
ment and current status of museum co-operation through the programs and associations that
have arisen from the 1960s to the present time. In summary fashion, it will run quickly through
the other areas of partnership which can be very important for museums today, ranging from
those with government bodies, through associations, volunteer organizations to private industry
and collectors. Throughout the paper, the perspective will be that of a museum at the national
level, and examples will be drawn from the experiences of the author and his interlocutors in the
air and space museum field, backed by documents from the files of the Canada Aviation Museum.
only one such agreement in place at the present time, with
the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton,
Ontario. The national museum has loaned several aircraft
to Warplane Heritage, shared education programs and
provided some technical assistance. The principal benefit
to us, as a “non-flying” museum, is that Warplane Heritage
provides one or more of its aircraft, including the only
Lancaster bomber flying outside the United Kingdom, for
an agreed number of special events at the Canada Aviation
This type of agreement, too, presents its challenges.
Beyond the issue of due care for loaned artifacts, it requires
more care and maintenance than a simple loan agreement
to ensure that the agreement is operating effectively in all
of the areas covered to the benefit of both parties.
Affiliation Program – While the Canada Aviation Museum
provides some forms of assistance to museums across the
country, it does not currently offer a broad affiliation
program on a national scale. In the United States, on the
other hand, the Smithsonian Institution created an affilia-
tion program approximately ten years ago, in which the
National Air and Space Museum is an active participant.
Affiliations, which are only open to museums in the United
States, exist with thirteen museums in the air and space
field. While in most cases it provides artifact loans and
program co-operation, in a few instances it has gone as far
as a loan of an object for restoration. A recent and highly
successful example of this type of partnership is the restora-
tion of the NASM’s unique Curtiss-Wright XP-55 canard
fighter aircraft of the early 1940s by the Kalamazoo Air Zoo
in Michigan.
Affiliation with the Smithsonian can provide higher
visibility and increase visitation for the affiliate. On the
other hand, the program has operating costs to be covered,
resulting in a fee of $2,500 per annum that can be difficult
for smaller museums to afford.
National Organizations – In a number of countries, the
national community of aviation museums has perceived a
The only Avro Lancaster bomber flying outside the United Kingdom visits the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa courtesy
of the agreement with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.
need to set up an organization to provide a mechanism to
improve communication among museums, represent their
joint interests and provide a forum for both establishing
personal contacts among museum personnel and sharing
professional expertise. In Canada, that organization is the
Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association (CAPA),
which exists, to quote its mission statement, “to promote
the preservation of aircraft, Canadian aviation history, and
the retention in Canada of aircraft, airframes, associated ar-
tifacts and related materials significant to Canadian avia-
tion”. The 28 full members are all museums or similar
institutions located from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria,
British Columbia, representing almost all of the museums
with significant aviation collections across the country.
Each member signs a Memorandum of Co-operation and
Understanding pledging co-operation in areas such as ar-
tifact loans, programs and travelling exhibits as well as the
provision of advice and technical assistance to other
members. There is also an associate member category that
includes organizations supportive of the CAPA mission.
This category is not restricted to Canadian organizations;
for instance, the British Aviation Preservation Council is an
associate member.
At the moment, CAPA is quite an active organization. Its
annual conferences, hosted by a different museum each
year, are well attended. It has just moved its administrative
office from Alberta to Nova Scotia and appointed a new
part-time Executive Director. A new web site (www.capa-
acca.org) has been created, including a members-only area
that will be used for acti vities such as postin g of wants and
possible disposals by member museums. The organization
is actively involved in planning for a national celebration
of the centenary of powered flight in Canada in 2009 with
several partners, including the Canadian Air Force. A plan
is being developed to hold a cross-country relay of vintage
aircraft in the summer of 2009 with stopovers and special
events at member museums and historic airfields.
The recent level of activity of CAPA has not always been
the case. While it has been in more or less continuous exis-
tence since 1977, during some periods its survival was very
uncertain. The trials it has faced are illustrative of the chal-
lenges encountered by a small organization with members
mainly volunteer-operated scattered over a very large area.
During the early years, activities were for the most part lim-
ited to an annual conference and an occasional newsletter.
The conferences were held in member museums and ac-
commodations were quite modest, to keep costs down. The
initial annual membership fee was $25 and remained at that
level for many years; only recently has it gradually risen to
$200. Conference fees were also kept very low. On one oc-
casion, for example, they were $15 plus $25 for the closing
banquet. Despite these low costs, many members either
found it impossible to fund attendance or were prevented
from attending because of other commitments. Thus
through the 1980s attendance was normally less than
twenty participants. Production of the newsletter was spo-
radic. At the end of the decade the organization hit a low
point, with no newsletter issued between August 1986 and
May 1989, and no conferences were held in 1988 and 1999.
Nevertheless, an executive remained in existence and
continued at least occasionally to represent the member-
ship on issues such as federal government practices on the
disposal of retired military aircraft.
The organization revived in the ‘90s, with Christopher
Terry from the National Aviation Museum and George Elliott
from the Western Canada Aviation Museum prominent in
this effort. Conferences were held regularly, and one or two
newsletters were produced annually. Attendance at the con-
ferences remained fairly low, even though the Department
of National Defence provided free transport for delegates.
On a more positive note, CAPA membership became a pre-
requisite for a museum to be eligible to receive aircraft
being retired by the Air Force, and the organization became
more active in making representations to the government
on issues relating to the export of vintage aircraft. Partici-
pation at the conferences grew to between 30 and 40 repre-
sentatives in the late ‘90s, and continued to increase in the
new century. The Air Force terminated its domestic trans-
port service, but CAPA managed to obtain support from the
new low-cost airline, Westjet, which has helped
to keep the cost of attending the conference very low. A
major move forward for CAPA was the emergence of e-mail
as a highly efficient means of communication with the
membership. With this advance, CAPA has been able
to serve as a communications hub and clearinghouse
for members seeking or disposing of aircraft, parts and
other artifacts.
In summary, the thirty-year history of CAPA shows how
a national organization can play an important role in rep-
resenting the collective views of its membership on impor-
tant matters such as government policies on issues such as
disposal of surplus aircraft and control over exports. It can
also provide a valuable means for members to get to know
each other, keep in contact, see what is happening at other
museums and be well informed on developments in both
government policies and professional practices. On the
other hand, with a small membership base and very limited
resources, the challenges to maintaining an effective
organi zation will continue, and can only be met by good
leadership and a strong commitment by members.
Contacts among aviation museums at the international
level resulting in the organization of annual meetings pre-
ceded even the earliest establishment of bodies at the
national level such as the British Aviation Preservation
Council, which appeared on the scene in 1967. The first
player on the international scene was the group which
became the IATM Aviation Museum Group, followed over
twenty years later by the start-up of the Mutual Concerns
seminars under the auspices of the National Air and Space
Museum and the American Association of Museums and
finally, much more recently, the founding of the Aviation
Heritage Group.
IATM Aviation Museum Group – The genesis of the IATM
Aviation Group can be traced back to an exchange of visits
in the early 1960s between Ken Molson, Curator at the
National Aviation Museum of Canada and his counterpart
at the National Air Museum in Washington, Louis S. Casey.
In an article in the March, 1990 IATM Aviation Museums
Newsletter, Casey recalled that after one of the meetings in
Ottawa (most likely in 1964), he and Molson agreed “that it
would be beneficial if there could be inter-museum
exchange visits by curatorial members and directors of the
several museums that were sprouting up around North
America and Europe”. Casey moved ahead to invite wider
participation at the next get-together at Washington, and at
the same time became involved in a transport museums
committee of the International Committee of Museums that
evolved into the International Association of Transport
Museums. Casey became both Chairman and Secretary of
the “IATM Aero Committee”. In the meantime, the pattern
had developed of meetings of air museum curators and
directors, almost entirely from North America, meeting at
various host museums in the USA and the National Aviation
Museum in Canada, with occasional “Study Tours” to Eu-
rope. Sometime between 1974 and 1976 the annual meeting
adopted the designation “IATM Aviation Committee Meet-
ing”. The pattern and level of attendance remained much
the same into the 1980s, in the 15 to 25 range essentially
comprising museum directors and senior curators. The ob-
jectives were to discuss museum standards and learn more
about various facets of museum operations, while having
the opportunity to visit museums, make personal contacts
and discuss direct co-operation such as artifact exchanges.
In the 1990s overall attendance and international partici -
pation picked up, with attendance at several meetings in
the 40 to 50 area. Study tours and meetings were held in Eu-
rope, Chile and Australia/New Zealand. Participation in
these events was fairly low, presumably because of the ex-
pense and time commitment involved. An effort was made
to conduct joint meetings with the Mutual Concerns Semi-
nar (see below) organized by the National Air and Space
Museum in Washington. Despite some difficulties in setting
up the first joint session in 1993, the IATM Aviation Museum
Group, as it came to be known, decided to hold such ses-
sions in Washington every three years, starting in 1999. This
decision was taken in recognition of the fact that the senior
people in the Group should link up on a regular basis with
their counterparts in Washington and the broader aviation
museum community participating in the Mutual Concerns
meeting. At the same time, some consideration was given
to breaking the connection between the group and IATM,
one reason being the continuing anomalous situation of the
group being largely North American in membership and
most of its meetings being held on that continent while the
overall IATM membership was predominantly European,
with most of the biennial conferences held there. Neverthe-
less, on balance the future of the group in the ‘90s looked
secure, as reflected by the then Chairman, Christopher
Terry, in an article entitled “IATM Aviation Museum Group
takes flight” which appeared in the UNESCO publication
“Museum International” in 1997.
Early in the new century, several factors combined to
bring about a crisis in the viability of the group. The events
of September 11, 2001 put a damper on travel in the United
States in particular and caused severe revenue problems at
many museums. Christopher Terry’s retirement as Chair-
man of the group in 2002 left a leadership vacuum which
no one jumped in to fill. In light of the brief six-month gap
between the IATM Group meeting in Sweden in September
2001 and the Mutual Concerns meeting in Washington in
March, the site for the 2002 meeting was changed to Dallas.
While an excellent program was put together, attendance
was extremely disappointing, with only 20 delegates pres-
ent, with four participants from Europe, three from Canada
and one from New Zealand. Only seven American delegates
came from outside the Texas/Oklahoma area. This unfortu-
nate outcome was repeated the following year when, during
the centenary year of powered flight, the IATM General Con-
ference was held in Dayton, Ohio, the hometown of the
Wright brothers. Only 33 delegates took part, of which 12
were from aviation museums. No meeting of the Aviation
Museum Group was held in 2004, and no newsletters have
been published for some years. While this author was not
aware of any formal discussions of the future of the Group
during this period, it soon became evident that the Aviation
Group had ceased to exist as an entity separate from the
general membership of IATM.
The Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums Semi-
nar – This annual meeting has been held each spring since
1987. It was the brainchild of Ms. Helen McMahon of the
National Air and Space Museum, who realized the great in-
terest in aviation museums, as evidenced by the spectacular
visit numbers attained by the NASM since its opening in
1976, and who could not fail to note the seemingly incessant
visits by other museum personnel to find out what made it
so popular. NASM and the American Association of Muse-
ums cosponsored the meeting until 2006, at which point the
AAM pulled out, as most aviation and space museums were
neither members of or accredited by the AAM. Accordingly,
in 2007 the meeting was re-titled “The Mutual Concerns of
Air and Space Museums Conference”. From a fairly modest
start, with participation in the range of 40 to 50 over the
first ten years (with the exception of the joint MC-IATM
meeting of 1993, which attracted 95 delegates), the annual
attendance over the last ten years has grown to average
roughly 150.
The meeting program was always designed to attract a
broad representation of museum staff and highlight a wide
range of museum activity, including curation, restoration,
archives, education, visitor services and fundraising. Ini-
tially NASM staff with the aid of feedback from participants
developed the program, but within the last five years it has
become the responsibility of a program committee drawn
from participating museums. In this respect it began to take
on some attributes of a partnership rather than just an
annual meeting under the auspices of NASM. In 2005 it took
another significant step in this direction with the holding
of the meeting outside Washington for the first time, in part-
nership with the Museum of Flight in Seattle. This certainly
eroded the distinction that used to exist between Mutual
Concerns and the IATM Aviation Museums Group, in that
one of the attractions of the IATM group had always been
that it met at a different site each year. Washington certainly
holds a great variety of museum attractions for the profes-
sional, but going there every year for Mutual Concerns did
eventually diminish in allure. This is no longer the case. The
Seattle meeting was so successful that the practice was
immediately adopted of holding the meeting alternately in
Washington or another city with a partner air or space
museum. In 2007 the meeting was at San Diego, and several
museums have indicated interest in hosting the event in
2009, including our own in Ottawa. Mutual Concerns has
always had significant international attendance, but it now
shows signs of moving toward being a truly international
The Aviation Heritage Group – In its heyday, the IATM
Aviation Museums Group did more than just hold an annual
conference hosted by a member museum. Between confer-
ences, newsletters were published informing the member-
ship of developments at museums, of areas of concern and
of possibilities for exchanges. Networking among members
was strongly encouraged. Mutual Concerns, on the other
hand, was a fine annual conference but did not offer any
services or means of networking to participants between
conferences. At the Mutual Concerns meeting in Seattle in
2005 a group of veterans of the IATM group got together in-
formally to discuss how the ongoing need for a strong mem-
bership-based organization serving the aviation and space
museum community and other parties interested in avia-
tion heritage could be met. The meeting of a steering com-
mittee in Kalamazoo, Michigan in August of 2005
followed this. This group drew up the basic outlines of an
organization entitled the Aviation Heritage Group and, in
consultation with the other participants at the Seattle
meeting, developed a set of bylaws outlining membership
categories and a structure of governance for the organi -
zation. The details of the establishment of the organization
and the bylaws can be found on its website,www.aviation-
The website is a very important tool for the AHG. It was
determined from the very beginning that the Internet pro-
vides the best means of assembling and distributing infor-
mation of use to the membership. This information would
initially take two forms: one, a forum in which members
could raise issues and share information, particularly in re-
lation to wants and disposals and two, a resource section
in which documents on professional practices such as col-
lections strategy could be shared among members. Eventu-
ally the content of the website would be broadened to
include job postings and commercial postings from mem-
bers in the category of those selling products and services
to the community.
The holding of conferences rates very low in the priori-
ties of the AHG, although should the membership reach
its potential, regional get-togethers are contemplated in
due course. In the meantime the AHG is working towards
an ever-closer relationship with Mutual Concerns.
The founding meeting of the Group was held at the 2006
Mutual Concerns Conference in Washington, with over
fifty museums and individuals joining the infant organiza-
tion at that time. The executive decided that the Annual
General Meeting of the AHG would regularly be held in
conjunction with the Mutual Concerns Conference and
that the AHG would seek to build a stronger relationship
with the Conference organizers. An election to fill out
the Board of Governors was held by e-mail in December
2006 and the Board met for the first time during the
Mutual Concerns Conference in San Diego. At the Annual
General Meeting the interim executive was elected to a full
two-year term.
While considerable progress has been made, the AHG is
still just an infant and has not yet reached the point where
it is able to provide the level and quality of service to its
members that it is striving to achieve. Several targets have
been missed, with one of the main constraints being the
ability of the members of the executive to devote the
amount of time and energy necessary to get the AHG on a
sound footing. This challenge is heightened by the decision
taken early on to encourage the broadest possible member-
ship by keeping the fees very low. The outcome of this is
that the budget for paid staff is non-existent and that for
professional assistance in areas such as website design and
maintenance is very low. At this point the membership has
stabilized at nearly 70, but it could certainly be a lot bigger.
My impression is that many in the quite large community
are still watching what is happening on the web site but not
yet quite ready to take the plunge and join up. I hope that
this will change in the months to come and the AHG will
grow in both size and capability so that it will provide a use-
ful service to a wide membership and become a voice for
the air and space heritage community, both in the United
States and internationally.
Partnerships Outside of the Museum Community
Today, many if not all museums rely on a wide variety of
partnerships to improve their collections, develop programs,
raise vistorship, cut costs and improve revenue. Parties to
these partnerships include government agencies, commu-
nity organizations, industry and private individuals.
Government Agencies – Museums that collect and interpret
in the technologies under the IATM umbrella are all dealing
with areas in which governments are active whether in a re-
search, regulatory or operational capacity. The agencies in-
volved can all be helpful to museums in many ways. In the
case of aviation museums, these agencies include air forces,
departments of transport or civil aviation, transportation
safety authorities and air navigation service providers. The
forms of involvement include artifact donations, partici -
pation in museum events through co-operation in, for ex-
ample, aerial displays at the museum and sponsorship of
exhibits. These partnerships can be covered by formal um-
brella agreements, for example the Canada Museum of Sci-
ence and Technology Corporation MOU with the National
Research Council, agreements on specific projects, for ex-
ample the National Transportation Safety Board sponsor-
ship of an exhibit at the Canada Aviation Museum, or an
informal understanding such as the very close relationship
which exists between the Aviation Museum and the Cana-
dian Air Force. An example of this sort of collaboration is
the annual Battle of Britain Day event at the Canada Avia-
tion Museum. An advantage of these types of partnership
is that the partner agencies often do not expect much in re-
turn for the services or donations that they provide,
although the museums involved do incur expenses in the
form of the staff time required to nurture the partners’
support and sometimes loss of revenue when a partner ex-
pects the museum to provide free entry to the public at
co-sponsored events.
Community Organizations – These organizations can be
geographically, ethnically or issue-based. For instance, it
can help a museum increase local visitation if it establishes
a partnership with neighbourhood community groups, with
the quid pro quo often being providing those organizations
An example of collaborations with private individuals. Vintage Wings of Canada flying displays and aircraft gatherings
at the Canada Aviation Museum.
with meeting or event space at a reduced rental rate. Links
with ethnic or charitable organizations can broaden the
museum’s appeal to all segments of the population and be
a source of advice on and participation in museum pro-
grams designed to appeal both to particular segments and
to the general population. A good example is the Canada
Aviation Museum’s 2006-07 holiday programming on the
theme of ‘Travelling North’ which involved members of the
city Inuit community in events and activities designed to
illustrate the impact of aviation on Canada’s northern in-
habitants. A special case for us is the National Aviation
Museum Society, a group of enthusiastic supporters set up
specifically to assist the Museum in its efforts to create pub-
lic and governmental support for improving its facilities.
Industry – For technology-oriented museums, the pro-
ducers of products and services encompassing specific
technologies are obvious targets for artifact donations,
sponsorship of exhibits and program support. In the avia-
tion field, our own experience has been that it is easier to
get the industry to donate artifacts, including aircraft, than
it is to obtain significant sponsorship funding. In the manu -
facturing sector, a prime reason for this is that the general
public is not the purchaser of their product. Support
for things like education programs is appreciated but is
generally small in scale, with the museum’s proposals
treated like just another request for assistance from a
community or charitable organization.
Private Individuals – The most common forms of inter-
action between museums and private individuals (other
than museum visitors) are artifact donations, cash dona-
tions and provision of volunteer services. However, they can
go far beyond this. One form is the loan of valuable
artifacts to the museum, which often results eventually in
a donation. In the aviation field, there are a number of pri-
vate collectors who not only acquire but also fly vintage air-
craft. This can enable a museum which has chosen not to
operate its own artifacts the opportunity to attract visitors
who want to have the experience of seeing and hearing his-
toric aircraft in operation. We are very fortunate to have
based in the national capital area an organization called
An example of collaborations outside the museum community. The annual Battle of Britain Day at the Canada Aviation
Vintage Wings of Canada, a group funded and headed by a
high-tech millionaire, which has amassed a collection of
thirteen historic civil and military aircraft covering the pe-
riod from the late 1920s to the mid-‘40s. In recent months
the Canada Aviation Museum has been working hard to
strengthen its relationship with this organization. This has
resulted in a program this summer including weekly visits
to the Museum by an aircraft and a pilot who will explain
its characteristics to visitors, temporary displays of aircraft
in the Museum and very active involvement in flying dis-
plays and aircraft gatherings at the Museum, including a
large vintage aircraft rally at the end of August. Such events
can produce significant revenue, but require a very heavy
commitment of staff time.
Museums today depend very heavily on various types of
partnership to assist them meet their mandate of collection,
preservation and interpretation of our cultural and techno-
logical heritage. These partnerships can be among muse-
ums or between museums and other organizations or
individuals. They can operate at the local, national or in-
ternational level. A common characteristic is that they all
require nurturing and developing by museum staff, at all
levels but certainly with the active involvement of senior
management. The numbers of such partnerships can be
daunting. For example, in the group of three museums
under the umbrella of the Canada Museum of Science and
Technology Corporation, our inventory of these arrange-
ments has identified over 160 separate collaborations. Ob-
viously, maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship
with this number of partners places a strain on museums
that are chronically short of staff and funding. Therefore we
have to look very closely at which partnerships deserve an
ongoing commitment, and in some cases take the difficult
decision to either formally conclude a partnership or at
least put it into abeyance.
This situation has had, and will continue to have, an im-
pact on the health and even the existence of organizations
designed to bring museums together to improve communi-
cation and understanding in their professional fields. The
benefits accruing from specific partnerships with govern-
ment agencies, community and commercial organizations
and individuals are often much more tangible, and there-
fore defensible, than those following from membership in
a museum organization, at any level. Competition for
museums’ meagre travel funds is abundant, a good
example being the excellent annual Museums and the Web
conference. Therefore if museum organizations are to
continue to exist and to thrive, they must offer to their mem-
ber’s benefits, services and educational opportunities
which clearly improve the capacity of members to meet
their mandates and objectives and therefore justify the com-
mitment of time and money involved in membership. I
reluctantly have to conclude that this is a test that the
Aviation Museums Group of IATM ultimately was not able
to pass. If such a fate is to be avoided by other organi -
zations, such as the new Aviation Heritage Group and
perhaps even IATM itself (at least in its capacity to attract
membership on the part of air and space museums), the
leadership and members must be prepared to make a very
substantial commitment of time and effort to make the
organization relevant and valuable to its members. This will
not be easy, and it will largely depend upon the willingness
of a new generation of museum professionals to take up
the challenge.
This paper is the extended version of my presentation at the
conference. At first it will give a brief history of railways as
UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and then it points to the
basics of the nomination process. Finally, using examples
from the Semmering Pass railway in Austria (on the list
since 1998) and the Rhaetian railway in Switzerland (nomi -
nation dossier given to UNESCO in 2006, decision to include
this line on the list in 2008) the paper will present and
comment on some aspects of the arguments associated with
railway World Heritage.
A Brief History of rail ways as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
It has been possible for railways to be designated as World
Heritage sites since 1998. This was the year when the Sem-
mering pass railway line was inscribed in the World Heritage
List as the first railway line worldwide. This ‘title’ implies
more than national protection and attention: in my eyes it
is a tool to implement internationality; it identifies a site of
worldwide significance. And it is also linked to preservation
issues, management issues and so on, which have to be
guaranteed by the applicants that are the ‘State parties’ (but
these must not be the actor for implementation). Finally, all
this is founded on history, on our demand for memory and
identity – and on our ability to realize this beyond varying
(academic) disciplines and/or national identities.
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention was passed in
1972 and it became operational three years later. The follo -
wing years were characterised by the setup of the institu-
tional framework like the World Heritage Committee, World
Heritage Fund and the World Heritage Centre (since 1992).
By 2006 more than 180 states had implemented the
UNESCO World Heritage convention within their countries
Its aim was to generate a heritage declaration and pro-
tection regime accepted worldwide. At the heart of the
convention – from the point of view of heritage – stands the
definition of cultural heritage and natural heritage. In there
we will find a phrase that is quite the most important
expression within the World Heritage context: it is the
“outstanding universal value” of any site, monument or
(natural) formation and which should be argued from
different point of views – from history, art, conservation,
natural beauty / aesthetics or science. We will find this
phrase also in other sections of this paper. The convention
refers also to the World Heritage Committee, which will
“define the criteria on the basis of which a property be -
longing to the cultural or natural heritage may be
2 in the World Heritage List.
The criteria mentioned in the Convention are written
down in the Operational Guidelines which the World Her-
itage Committee has developed. The actual document was
revised in 2005 and contains much more precise instruc-
tions of the procedures of inscription than the earlier doc-
ument and reflects (and integrates) new concepts,
knowledge and experiences. The revision also contains
background information for the implementation of the
World Heritage Convention. Of equal importance are the ba-
sics for inclusion in the World Heritage list such as defini-
tions of different kind of heritage, the role of integrity and /
or authenticity and the criteria for the assessment of out-
standing universal value.
Three main chapters are dedicated to the process for the
inscription, the process for monitoring the state of conser-
vation at World Heritage Sites and to periodic reporting on
implementation. Additional chapters are dedicated to
‘Encouraging support for the World
Heritage Convention’, to the World Heritage Fund, to the
World Heritage Emblem and finally additional information
sources complete the ‘Operational Guidelines’.
Railways as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Günter Dinhobl, OBB Infrastructur-Bau AG, Austria
This paper was presented at the 2007 IATM conference in York, United Kingdom. The topic of the
conference was ‘Transport and Communication Museums in a Changing Environment’ and for
this I shifted the focus from museums to a new opportunity to raise public awareness on railway
histories. My focus was on the declaration of railways, or more precisely: railway lines, as UNESCO
World Heritage Sites.
The criteria for inscription are split into those for cultural
heritage and those for natural heritage. The cultural heri -
tage criteria refer to the ‘masterpiece of human creative
genius’, the ‘important interchange of human values’, to a
‘unique or at least exceptional testimony’, or to ‘outstand-
ing examples’ of a type of building, architectural or techno-
logical ensemble or landscape, of a traditional human
settlement, land-use, or sea-use, and finally ‘associated
with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs,
with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal
Of central interest to this paper is the description of the
‘universal value’, which is as follows:
“Outstanding universal value means cultural and/or
natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend
national boundaries and to be of common importance for
present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the
permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest
importance to the international community as a whole.”
Two paragraphs later it is stated: “The Convention is not
intended to ensure the protection of all properties of great
interest, importance or value, but only for a select list of the
most outstanding of these from an international viewpoint.
It is not to be assumed that a property of national and/or
regional importance will automatically be inscribed on the
World Heritage List.”
This brief overall view indicates the most central points
of UNESCO World Heritage and these are essential for the
acceptance of railways as World Heritage Sites. Other cor-
nerstones are the acceptance of industrial heritage as World
Heritage – the first one was Ironbridge Gorge in the United
Kingdom (together with Durham Cathedral, Stonehenge
and Studley Royal Park), listed since 1986. With the inscrip-
tion in 1996 of ‘Canal du Midi‘ in France, inland waterways
were also accepted. Alongside this, during the mid1990s
ICOMOS and TICCIH (both advisory bodies for UNESCO)
presented two studies the “International Canal Monuments
List” and “Context for World Heritage Bridges” on the sub-
ject of industrial heritage as World Heritage.
But now let’s turn to the railways and World Heritage.
One of the first discussions on this topic started in the 1990s
when ICOMOS Germany held three conferences (1990/
1992/1997) on railways and heritage. Considering that most
of the papers presented at these conferences are histories
of single monuments or of whole railway networks, in
short: aspects of railway history, it is striking how few
papers address heritage and/or conservation issues. But
there is no indication of a demand for railways as UNESCO
World Heritage Sites.
7 In general, the 1990s look a little bit
like a time of a new beginning in railway heritage, probably
rooted in the privatization of railways; for UK I refer to the
“Railway Heritage Act 1996” or the volume “Conserving the
railway heritage” from Burman and Stratton from 1997.
The key year for railways and UNESCO World Heritage
was 1995. In this year the Republic of Austria submitted the
nomination dossier for the “Semmering-railway – cultural
site” (that is the railway and the surrounding landscape) to
UNESCO in Paris. Austria had ratified the UNESCO World
Heritage Convention in 1992 and therefore it was one of the
first applications from this country. In the case of the Sem-
mering railway the process before the application was
driven by a non-government organisation named ‘Alliance
for Nature’ and their aim was a subtle one: to get the Sem-
mering Railway on the World Heritage List to prevent the
projected base tunnel (length around 24 km) which will
replace the ‘old’ line. In the case of progress in railway tech-
nology building a base tunnel is not an unusual practice
(e.g. see The Great Zig-Zag in Australia
9), but one must
know that the Semmering line passes a landscape of natu-
ral beauty which became a tourist landscape with hotels
and hiking trails at the end of the 19th century. Also the
Semmering railway line became an icon of ‘Austrian
engineering competence’ and a significant symbol of
Austrian identity. For example it appeared on the 20
Schilling banknote from the 1980s.
When UNESCO received the nomination dossier for the
Semmering line there was a problem: as no railway line
nomination had ever been submitted as a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. So, first of all UNESCO had to be sure that rail-
ways could be accepted as World Heritage Sites and also
which criteria should be applied to them. Some talks later
– primarily between UNESCO and the responsible ministry
in Austria – the government of Austria provided funding for
a comparative study. Anthony Coulls did this study in 1997-
1998 under the guidance of ICOMOS and Dr. Henry Cleere
(World Heritage Coordinator) at the National Railway Mu-
seum in York, United Kingdom and with the assistance of
Professor Colin Divall of the Institute of Railway Studies.
Semmering pass railway, Austria: 20 Schilling-banknote of
the 1980s with typical view of the line embedded in the
While not wishing to give a summary of this study, six as-
pects of it merit mention:
(1) There is never any doubt within the whole study as to
whether railways should be included in the World Heri -
tage List. Quite the contrary – industrial places ‘have
always been implicit in the World Heritage Convention’
and the railways are stated as one kind of industrial
(2) The study recommends against the designation of
locomotives and rolling stock – a practice in several
countries – because of (legal) problems like ownership,
access, and also of the intention to correct the prevai -
ling ‘lococentrism’.
(3) Therefore, the main focus is laid on the immobile ob-
jects – the surviving routes, whether still in operation
or not, whether in part or as a whole.
(4) The preceding point led to probably the most interes -
ting part of the study: the suggestions and examples of
the argumentation for the designation as World Heri -
tage Sites. So, “The key challenge is to identify just
what it is about a railway location that makes it worthy
of World Heritage status.”
11 To address only physical
aspects of structures or technologies can lead to the
problem of authenticity – which is of central interest
when we talk about railways and heritage. It is one fun-
damental that railways have been and are still in per-
manent modification – “items wear out and are
replaced, methods of organization and operating are
adapted to changing circumstances.”
12 As a result, the
study emphasized evidence on a broad basis such as
the railway’s socio-economic functions, the political,
financial, business and managerial structures, the
transfer of technology across borders as well as the
impact of the railways on society and culture.
(5) On behalf of practice, this very broad field is narrowed
down and four criteria are proposed to identify and to
value potential World Heritage Railways:
– ‘A creative work indicative of genius’ (including all
people involved in building a railway)
– ‘The influence of, and on, innovative technology’
(including technology transfers and giving reference
to the interdisciplinary approach of modern histori-
ography of technology)
– ‘Outstanding or typical example’ (including the ref-
erence to originality and authenticity in the case of
a typical example)
– ‘Illustrative of economic or social developments’
Where “this [criteria] is the principal criterion by which
sites should be judged.”
13 And as conclusion to these
four criteria I’d like to note that it is recommended that
all of them shall be applied to each site that is nomi-
14 for World Heritage. These four criteria are illus-
trated with eight cases to give examples for the use of
the criteria in practice. These cases are examples from
all over the globe and include main lines and second-
ary lines, high-speed rail and underground and from
the early (modern) railway age to the age of the ‘renais-
sance of rail’.
(6) One aspect that I have mentioned above is a proble -
matic one in the case of railways: authenticity. In the
study it is used in a weak way: while on the one hand it
is stated that a railway – in particular an operating one
– can not be “wholly authentic from a strictly historical
point of view”
15, while on the other hand several pages
later “unsympathetic modernization and renewal”
shall be averted by the designation of outstanding rail-
way locations as World Heritage. Unfortunately, there
is no discussion of this problem within the study or
afterwards on an international level, but: it is worth-
while to reflect on all different aspects, discuss pros
and cons, give examples of best practise – or failed
ones. One starting point for a much-needed interna-
tional discussion on this subject was the session on
‘Railways and World Heritage’ held at the T2M confer-
ence in autumn of 2007.
Beyond all critical remarks, this study forms the frame for
nomination of railways as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Basics of the Nomination Process
The preparation of railway heritage sites for the nomination
involves many different actors and its preparation takes a
long time.
– Actors: The submission must be done by the state(s)
where the heritage site is situated and that is why the
preparations are in a way also a political process. The
key actor is the ministry that is responsible for inter -
national affairs in heritage of the state, accompanied by
institutions like the (Federal) Monuments Office, the
rele vant governments of the province(s), (sometimes) the
owner of the site, often also tourism offices within the
region and towns and cities situated at the site.
– Preparation time: The coordination of all the actors and
the compilation of the nomination dossier takes quite a
long time – in the case of the nomination dossier of
Switzerland and the Rhaetian Railway the making of the
nomination dossier took one and a half years. UNESCO
gives the style and subdivision of the nomination dossier
in the key document for inscription, the ‘Operational
Guidelines’ (actual version from 2005).
The nomination dossier must contain the identification and
description of the site, the justification for inscription, the
state of conservation and protection and finally manage-
ment plans, a concept of future monitoring and supporting
documentation. Each of these chapters is divided in several
sub-chapters, but here is not the place to talk about them.
Although each of these points is important for inscription,
in the following I will focus on the central moment of all:
why is a railway worth to be World Heritage.
As recommended in the ICOMOS-railways study (and
mentioned above), four criteria should be addressed in
combination with a broad argumentation of the importance
of the site. Above I have noted the reference to the ‘interdis-
ciplinary approach of modern historiography of technol-
ogy’. This means that not only technical/technological
aspects are taken in consideration but also economical,
political, financial, social or cultural ones. Therefore the
field of argument is open because we all know the wide-
spread influence of railways – and from railways.
In my third section I will discuss the arguments and pro-
vide examples of two cases: the “Semmering – railway –
cultural site” in Austria, which has been a World Heritage
Site since 1998, and the “Rhaetian Railway in the
Albula/Bernina Cultural Landscape” which was nominated
in 2006 and put on the list by UNESCO in mid 2008.
Some Aspects of the Arguments
of Railway World Heritage on the Examples
First of all, in my experience with railway history in the con-
text of World Heritage – I have compiled the history of
building the Semmering railway and was involved in the in-
ternational comparison of the Rhaetian Railway – one of
the biggest difficulties is in forming a well-balanced inter-
national perspective.
As stated in several contemporary papers of railway his-
tory, railway history was and is often still written from a na-
tional perspective
19. Recent decades brought a slight shift to
comparisons, where railways of two countries are compared,
or more rarely, between a limited number of countries. Rarer
still are comparisons between countries of the whole world.
Although some pioneering railway histories have been writ-
ten (here I am thinking of Schivelbusch, Stilgoe, Meeks,
Richards and Mackenzie) the focus is still mostly on one or
a few countries of Europe and/or North America.
Amongst all these considerations and more, we come
back to the question – why is a railway worth to be desig-
nated as a World Heritage Site?
In the case of the Semmering railway in Austria it is well
known that this was the first railway line worldwide to pass
through a high mountain area. The planning started in 1842
and the whole line was put into operation at the beginning
of 1854. The line has a length of 41,7 km (=25,9 miles) and
was built as a section of the Southern Railway with a length
of more than 500 km (=330 miles), which led from the capi -
tal of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna, to the Adriatic port of
this empire, Trieste. Within a distance of only 10 km (=6,2
miles) more than 400 m (=1300 ft.) must become overcome
by rail. This was a challenge in a time when cable inclines
had been the standard and where very rapidly the cable
inclines had been rebuilt to adhesion railway lines. There-
fore there was no problem to point at the pioneering role of
this railway line.
So, it was not difficult to find arguments in the nomina-
tion paper which correspond to three of four criteria of the
ICOMOS-railway study. It was the Venetian mathematician
Carl Ghega who was responsible for the design of the rail-
way route. Ghega was an innovator when he applied both
Alpine mountain road-building methods to the construc-
tion of a railway line through the Alps and the lessons from
his observations made during a study tour to North Ame -
rica. Finally, even in the late 1860’s the line was described
as a ‘work of genius’. This reflects the influence of innova-
tive technology on railway building, and the application of
such innovation made possible the construction of railway
lines all over the world in mountainous terrain. The Sem-
mering line is an outstanding example not least because it
is still in daily operation as the main line from Vienna (and
the north-eastern of Europe) to the Adriatic region, taking
more than 150 trains a day down the whole line.
Illustrating well economic or social developments within
the area which have been dependent on the railway line,
that (referring to the nomination paper) make it truly “no
‘ordinary’ landscape” and a “significant place in Austrian
history and tradition”: the 1870s saw excursion trains arrive
from Vienna in this mountainous region. In the 1880s the
private railway company erected a hotel that was the begin-
ning of an artificial mountain resort with several big hotels
and private villas. By the beginning of the 20
th century, the
region attracted a large number of famous figures of society
and culture. Many of the buildings have survived but some
of the big hotels remain empty with no access to funding
for conservation. Because the area around the railway line
was not precisely declared, UNESCO designated ‘only’ the
railway line as World Heritage. The nomination dossier was
compiled during the mid 1990s using the earlier, less
sophisticated ‘operational guidelines’ and is as such a
description of the ‘site,’ including the railway line and the
region / landscape with no explicit international compa -
rison such as is now demanded by the current ‘Operational
To summarize, the arguments for the inscription of the
Semmering railway were twofold: on one hand the railway
line alone was valid for World Heritage status, and on the
other hand the surrounding cultural landscape, in particu-
lar the hotels and villas of the late 19th century, which were
built a consequence of the railway made it equally valid.
The case of the Swiss nomination of the “Rhaetian Rail-
way in the Albula/Bernina Cultural Landscape” is quite
similar but at the same time also different to that of the
Semmering example. They both are ‘railways and land-
scapes’ but differ significantly in the procedure behind the
nomination process.
In contrast to the Semmering line I will present the
arguments for inscription of the “Rhaetian Railway in the
Albula/Bernina Cultural Landscape” in a little more detail.
Because the nomination dossier for the Rhaetian Railway
refers to the actual ‘Operational Guidelines’ and as such
carries much more in-depth analysis, we can learn more
from it about how the international significance of a railway
line might be better identified.
The Rhaetian Railway is also a railway line that passes
through a mountainous region, but in contrast to Semmer-
ing it was built as a narrow gauge in the beginning of the
th century in Albula in 1904 and Bernina in 1910.
In the nomination dossier it is argued that these lines have
some remarkable specialities that qualify for inscription on
the UNESCO World Heritage List:
– The line illustrates technical change: The section from
Thusis to St. Moritz is one of the last railway lines pas -
sing through the Alps designed for steam traction, while
the Bernina line is one if the first lines designed for elec-
trical operation. Here it must be noted that the first one
was designed as a main line, but in narrow gauge and
the second one was designed as an overland-tram line
with its own track passing high-mountains area. The
most obvious feature for this distinction are the route
parameters: 120 m minimum radius within curves (one
exception: 100 m) and 35 ‰ grade at the Albula route
and 45 m minimum radius within curves and 70 ‰ at
the Bernina line.
– From a technical point of view the Albula line is a ‘typi-
cal’ mountain line of that time with peak tunnel and spi-
ral tunnel; the Bernina line illustrates the innovation of
its time applied on high mountain regions: an electric
operated railway at more than 2200 meters altitude, up
to today the highest point of a railway across the Alps
and in operation all year round, with long lasting and
steep grades (the ‘Jungfrau-Bahn’, also in Switzerland,
is a branch line with rack operation and reaches more
than 3000 m).
– The line represents the zenith of the golden age of rail-
ways in the European mountainous areas: No ‘big’
mountain railways passing through the Alps were built
after the First World War, and not until the end of the
20th Century were new Alpine railway lines built. Today
such lines are very long base-tunnels, like in Switzerland
Lötschberg (35 km / 21,5 miles) and Gotthard (57 km /
35,4 miles), in France/Italy the Frejus route Lyon-Turin
(52 km / 32 miles) and in Austria the discussions over the
base tunnel at Brenner refer to 55 km / 34 miles and those
for Semmering to 22 – 27 km / 13,7 – 16,8 miles). So after
building the Albula line no more helical/spiral tunnels
were built in Europe. This also remained true for the rest
of the world (the Chengdu-Kunming railway in China
does not have ‘real’ helical/spiral tunnels).
– Good condition in terms of heritage : Generally speaking
the buildings along the railway line are in a good condi-
tion and original, but with adaptations that correspond
to contemporary building regulations.
– Connecting different cultural regions and effects of rail-
way: The lines lead from the northern side of the Alps to
the southern regions of this European mountain range,
and so they pass several cultural regions. For example,
the Albula-Bernina line connects three different lan-
guage regions, each with distinct styles of architecture
and agricultural landscapes. These regions are rich in
natural and cultural monuments. Archaeological finds
date back to the 2nd century B.C. Since the Albula line
was opened, the Engadin valley had summer tourism but
an all-year-round service transformed the area into a
world-famous winter-sport region.
– Clear definition of heritage areas: Well defined are the
zones for World Heritage, both the core zone and in par-
ticular the buffer zone which is guided by the horizon
(and therefore up to 27 km distant from the railway line).
The buffer zones are divided in two three areas: the sur-
rounding, the near and the distant ‘backdrop’ area (the
surrounding has – national or regional – exceptional
qualities; the near area has no exceptional qualities and
the distant one is important for the panoramic view).
– Strength in the overall point of view:All this, to ‘merge’
the railway route, the (cultural) landscape along it and
the cultural expressions initiated by the railway, and
finally beyond these aspects the precise definition of the
area is in my opinion the strength of this application.
The nomination dossier includes a great deal more, but it
is beyond the scope of this paper to address all of them,
however you can find the whole dossier at the website
In both cases railways are linked with the surrounding
landscape. In both cases the landscape is included in the
World Heritage zone, with a weak definition at Semmering
and a precise definition at Albula-Bernina. Generally spea -
king, this is nothing new since its beginning railways have
been intrinsically linked to their surrounding regions. On a
technical level, the route parameter, like the radius of
curves or the grade, shows this clearly. On an aesthetic level
it is a common place to address the beauty of the landscape
that the railway passes through. But this relationship, be-
tween railway and landscape is a subtle thing! During my
investigations for the Semmering line I read several sources
that implicitly reiterated that by the mid 19th Century the
Semmering area was already perceived as a ‘region’
(“Gegend”). At this time only small and limited areas were
named as ‘landscape’. They were artificial environments,
like the park of Prince Liechtenstein that contained a brook
with a waterfall and a bridge and a small pavilion. Since the
railway is going through this region the whole area was per-
ceived implicitly as ‘landscape’ but because of the railway!
It was the railway that enabled one to see the region aes-
thetically. Wolfgang Kos talks of the pleasure trains that
passed the Semmering line from its early years, enabling a
‘ballet of views’
21 during the train ride and which had been
a completely new experience for the people (see also
On the other hand, in several sources you find the state-
ment that the railway and in particular its buildings like the
huge arched bridges, is the key factor defining the region
as a landscape. The aesthetical perception of the railway
buildings is the basis for the perception of the region also
in an aesthetic way. To illustrate the need for aesthetic per-
ception see the illustration of the Semmering line during
the 1850s. It shows the arched bridge in Payerbach (a small
town surrounded by the railway) and you see the bridge
with a train on it, the line in the background on the slope
of the mountains and behind the bridge the church of
Payerbach. For our eyes today this is enough to perceive it
as a railway landscape. And you see in the foreground also
a gnarled branch and rock formation. While the gnarled
branch formation stands for the wilderness of this region,
the rock formation is of special interest. This rock neither
exist there nor is this shape from the Semmering region. It
is typical in Saxony, in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains also
named ”Saxon Switzerland”.
The perception of this region in Saxony was at that time
an aesthetical one and a romantic one and well known
within Europe. Now, I think that the artist of the Sem -
mering image put the rock formation (and the branch) in
this view to emphasise the aesthetic point of view. In the
1870s-1880s, with the railway as the necessary catalyst, the
Semmering region became a ‘landscape’ when the first
villas and hotels were built. During 1920s and ‘30s this
perception did turn around but today the Semmering line
is perceived as being ‘perfectly adjusted to the environ-
ment’, which is a status never, before achieved, even
during is heyday.
In contrast, at the Albula-Bernina railway an aesthetical
perception of railway and landscape in general was elabo-
rated at that time and therefore the buildings could be per-
ceived as suitable to the landscape with stone arch bridges
and wooden houses on the northern section, stone houses
in Engadin and Puschlav and steel bridges at the Bernina
22 The big bridges of the Gotthard line, which date from
the time of transition of the aesthetical perception of ‘rail-
way and landscape’, were made of steel. The intention was
to see these buildings as bold enrichment of the ‘landscape’
but for the Gotthard railway they were perceived as unsuit-
able because of their boldness, standing in stark contrast
to the mountain landscape in both material and style. It is
precisely here that you see the transition! Of course they are
built in contrast to the region, like at Semmering, but were
done so with another technological background. These
bridges should be the key objects through which we per-
ceive the landscape as aesthetic. But the perception was in
transition at that time and a region could be perceived aes-
thetical also without a railway (bridge). Therefore the stan-
dard at the time was the landscape (aesthetically perceived
region) without human interventions such as railways
The second important topic I want to address here is
internationality. For the designation it is not enough to
point out any regional of national significance, but it is
essential to show the international weight of the proposed
site. This has to be done in chapter three “Justification for
inscription”, in particular at 3c “Comparative analysis”:
“The property should be compared to similar properties,
whether on the World Heritage List or not. The comparison
should outline the similarities the nominated property has
with other properties and the reasons that make the nomi-
nated property stand out. The comparative analysis should
aim to explain the importance of the nominated property
both in its national and international context”
23 and ear-
lier… “A comparative analysis of the property in relation to
similar properties, whether or not on the World Heritage
List, both at the national and international levels, shall also
be provided. The comparative analysis shall explain the
importance of the nominated property in its national and
international context.”
Nothing more in detail is set in advance. It is incumbent
on the proponent to (a) screen similar properties, (b) iden-
tify and draw up a comprehensible standard for comparison
and (c) identify a number of sites worldwide as comparable
to the proposed site.
As mentioned before, since the nomination dossier of the
“Semmering-railway – cultural site” was compiled, differ-
ent standards of the UNESCO Operational Guidelines have
been added and that is why there was no such chapter. But
in the case of this railway line it is accepted that it is the first
real mountain railway worldwide, while all others were
much shorter or did not come to such altitudes.
In the case of the “Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/
Bernina Cultural Landscape” it was a little more difficult. It
was built half a century later in a time when all over the
world railway lines and in particular in mountain regions,
were built. A group of railway historians were involved in
the screening and identification of comparable sites for the
Rhaetian Railway lines. They were Prof. Robert Lee from
Australia, Dr. Hans-Peter Bärtschi and Gion Caprez from
Switzerland as well as myself.
At first we distinguished between ‘Bergbahnen’ (moun-
tain railway) and ‘Gebirgsbahnen’ (mountain railway).
While the first variety consists mostly of branch lines, for
example the Darjeeling and Nilgiri lines in India, the
second are both built for transportation into the mountain
region and also through it. For the comparison we only took
into account ‘Gebirgsbahnen’ and screened more than one
hundred all over the world.
After several discussions and the creation of five com-
parison criteria we identified one railway line for each
world region: for Oceania, East and South-East Asia the
Yunnan Railway, for South and West-Asia the Darjeeling
and Nilgiri-lines, for Africa the Eritrea railway, for South-
America the Guayaquil & Quito Railway, for North America
the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, and finally for Europe
the Train Jaune in France, the Semmering railway in Austria
and the Gotthard line in Switzerland. You see, one ‘must’
was to also include the inscribed railway lines into the com-
Semmering pass railway, Austria: coloured engraving of the viaduct near Payerbach around 1850; note the rock formation
on the left area which is explained in the paper
Rhaetian Railway, Switzerland: Albula line – Landwasser viaduct (left) and cultural landscape around Tiefencastel (right).
Rhaetian Railway, Switzerland / Italy: Bernina line – ring viaduct near Brusio (left) and road crossing in the town of Tirano,
Italy (right).
parison. The other lines we chose because of the date they
were built and the gauge (narrow gauge). The comparison
was divided into two sections. On one hand the railway
lines themselves, in a more technical way and on the other
hand the cultural landscape in which they are
embedded. In both sections basic work has to be done. Only
information on a very rough scale was available and in
particular almost nothing was available on these railway
lines and their surrounding cultural landscapes.
Beyond the standardized description of each line men-
tioned above, the comparison highlights both similarities
and differences. While differences stand for the uniqueness
of the proposed property, the similarities illustrate the
typical aspects. In other words it is impossible to identify a
railway only as unique or as typical.
So, to come to an end I like to summarize the aspects I’d
like to refer to with this paper:
– Railways as UNESCO World Heritage sites are the oppor-
tunity to create partnerships on an international and
worldwide level, both in the context of railways as world-
wide transportation systems but also to give railways the
adequate meaning inherent in them for our modern
– Main actors: UNESCO (including related advisory bodies
like ICOMOS) and state parties, no individuals!
– Challenges – and future discussions:
· To see railways not only as a technical system
· International, worldwide comparison
· Context with landscape (heritage) is established but
in the case of railways not at all elaborated
· Others to come as UNESCO World Heritage: work-
shops, or…?
· Heritage and daily operation (in particular how to
deal with the changing standards for a modern daily
rail operation)
Finally, railways as UNESCO World Heritage is a chance to
show the public that railways are not only technical devices
for transport but – in Coull’s words “socio-technical sys-
tems in which it is ultimately impossible to separate out the
‘social’ and ‘technical’ aspects” (and to add: impossible to
separate out the national aspects). Where else could this
better be done as in a museum, so let me finish with the ref-
erence to the SÜDBAHN Museum in Mürzzuschlag, one sta-
tion of the Semmering line. It opened in 2004 and expanded
in 2007 with the opening of the ‘Rundlokschuppen’ (round-
house). There we (a team of one art-historian and two
historians) try to realize the presentation of both technical
and social / cultural aspects of the Southern Railway
(including Semmering) to the public.
View of the main facility of the SÜDBAHN Museum in Mürzzuschlag.
Burman, Peter; Stratton, Michael eds.: Conserving the Railway Heri -
tage; London 1997.
Cebulla, Florian: Grenzüberschreitender Schienenverkehr. Problem-
stellungen-Methoden-Forschungsüberblick; in: Burri, Monika;
Elsasser, Kilian T.; Gugerli, David (Hg.): Die Internationalität der
Eisenbahn 1850-1970 (Interferenzen 7. Studien zur Kulturgeschichte
der Technik); Zürich: Chronos, 2003, S. 21-35
Coulin, Jules: ’Die Rhätische Bahn’, in: Heimatschutz 1913/1, p. 1-13.
Deutsches Nationalkomitee von ICOMOS: Eisenbahn und Denkmal -
pflege I. Erstes internationales Eisenbahnsymposium des Deut-
schen Nationalkomitees von ICOMOS, Frankfurt am Main,
2.-4.4.1990 (Band IV. Der Hefte des Deutschen Nationalkomitees);
München 1992.
Deutsches Nationalkomitee von ICOMOS: Eisenbahn und Denkmal -
pflege II. Zweites internationales Eisenbahnsymposium des Deut -
schen Nationalkomitees von ICOMOS, Frankfurt am Main,
2.-4.4.1992 (Band IX. Der Hefte des Deutschen Nationalkomitees);
München 1993.
Deutsches Nationalkomitee von ICOMOS: Eisenbahn und Denkmal -
pflege III. Drittes internationales Eisenbahnsymposium des Deut -
schen Nationalkomitees von ICOMOS, Frankfurt am Main,
14.-16.4.1997 (Band XXVII. Der Hefte des Deutschen National -
komitees); München 1998
Heimatschutz 1913
ICOMOS / TICCIH: International Canal Monuments List; ICOMOS: Paris
1996 (http://www.icomos.org/studies/canals.pdf)
ICOMOS / TICCIH: Context for World Heritage Bridges; ICOMOS: Paris
1996 (http://www.icomos.org/studies/bridges.htm)
ICOMOS: Railways as World Heritage Sites; ICOMOS: Paris 1999
Kos, Wolfgang (Hg.): Die Eroberung der Landschaft Semmering•
Rax•Schneeberg; Katalog zur Niederösterreichischen Landes -
ausstellung im Schloß Gloggnitz 1992, Wien 1992
Mauterer, Richard: Semmeringbahn: Daten . Fakten . Propaganda;
Wien, Pinkafeld 1990
Pressouyre, Léon: the World Heritage Convention, twenty years later;
UNESCO Publishing: Paris 1996
UNESCO: Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural
and natural heritage; UNESCO: Paris 1972
UNESCO: Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World
Heritage Convention. UNESCO: Paris 2005, URL: http://whc.un-
esco.org/archive/opguide05-en.pdf, 25.5.2005
Railway Heritage Act 1996, URL: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/
acts1996/1996042.htm, 25.5.2007)
Schivelbusch, Wolfgang: Geschichte der Eisenbahnreise; Frankfurt/
Main 1989
1 Pressouyre 1996
2 UNESCO 1972, Article 11/4
3 UNESCO 2005
4 UNESCO 2005, §77
5 UNESCO 2005, §49
6 ICOMOS / TICCIH 1996 a; ICOMOS / TICCIH 1996 b
7 Deutsches Nationalkomitee von ICOMOS 1992, 1993, 1998.
8 Railway Heritage Act 1996; Burman, Stratton eds. 1997
9 ICOMOS 1999, p. 16.
10 ICOMOS 1999
11 ICOMOS 1999, p.7.
12 ICOMOS 1999, p.7.
13 ICOMOS 1999, p.10.
14 ICOMOS 1999, p.11.
15 ICOMOS 1999, p.7.
16 ICOMOS 1999, p.24.
17 URL: http:www.t2m.org.
18 UNESCO 2005
19 Cebulla 2003
20 Mautner 1990
21 Kos 1992
22 Coulin 1913
23 UNESCO 2005, p.102-3.
24 UNESCO 2005, p.31
Railway Museums in Brazil: State Politics
and the Rise of the Volunteer Museum
Martin Cooper, Institute of Railway Studies & Transport History,
University of York/National Railway Museum, England
In 1977 Patrick Dollinger, a French-born engineer, helped to create the Associação Brasileira de
Preservação Ferroviária (ABPF, Brazilian Railway Preservation Association) and shortly afterwards
a group of volunteers began work on 24kms of track secured from the federal State railway com-
pany, the Rede Ferroviária Federal SA (RFFSA). The line, between Campinas and Jaguariúna in
São Paulo state, began heritage rides in 1981. The ABPF, a not-for-profit non-governmental organi -
sation, is also active in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio
Grande do Sul. Some of its rail heritage sites today have the highest visitor figures of any attraction
in the museum sector in Brazil.
The involvement of the State has not been as successful. In
1980 the RFFSA launched its Programa de Preservação do
Patrimônio Histórico Ferroviário (PRESERFE, Heritage Rail-
way Preservation Programme). It opened a network of rail-
way museums across Brazil and planned to publish
historical materials and to support research and resto -
ration. But by 1999, after the privatisation of the industry,
it lost virtually all its resources and now only acts as a point
of reference for academic researchers. Four regional muse-
ums and archive centres in the cities of Belo Horizonte,
Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Curitiba have closed.
The ownership of railways in Brazil
The history of the development of the railway in Brazil can
be split into four broad phases. The first was between the
1850s and the 1920s during which railway construction ex-
perienced consistent growth. In this period individual com-
panies were granted concessions by the State machinery.
These companies were typically foreign owned, although at
least one, the Companhia Paulista , was owned by Brazilian
investors and there is evidence that the State played an in-
terventionist role in certain areas such as attracting capital
and eventually supporting loss-making operations.
Compared to England railways arrived relatively late in
Brazil. In the twenty-five years since the opening of the
Stockton and Darlington railway in 1825, Britain had 10,655
kilometres of lines built and operating. Michael Robbins
calls these years up to 1850 the ‘heroic period’ of growth in
2 In 1854, as expansion in the UK was temporarily fal-
tering, a Manchester-built Fairbairn 2-2-2 locomotive named
‘Baroneza’ pulled an Imperial coach on the inaugural run
along a 14.5km stretch of 1.676 gauge line which eventually
would link the Court at Petrópolis with the beaches and
docks of Rio de Janeiro, a final distance of 16.2km.
The Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, after this first jour-
ney had a vision of Brazil connected by railways, which
would aid the modernisation of land transport and open up
the country for rapid economic development and faster
access to world markets. Having gained independence
peacefully from Portugal in 1822, Brazil was looking to
Europe for ideas of modernity and growth to take it from its
agrarian based colonial economy.
3 At court the social man-
ners of French culture were in vogue. Buildings and streets
in Rio de Janeiro of the time were heavily influenced by the
Parisian boulevard style of architecture. Meanwhile at the
dawn of Brazil’s railway age, the influence was entirely
British, with North American engineering skills arriving
toward the end of the century when they eventually came
to dominate. The School of Engineering, part of the Military
School at that time, began training its own limited number
of railway engineers from 1858 onwards. But even so,
effective control of Brazil’s rail expansion remained pre -
dominantly in the hands of foreign capital and expertise for
the next sixty years.
The second phase came between 1920 and 1957 when the
Brazilian Government bought out or commandeered the
foreign owned rail lines and turned them into individual
companies each reliant on state investment, in effect tur -
ning each into a state-owned operation. At its height in
1955, mostly clustered along the Atlantic coast and centred
mainly in the highly populated commercial and political
axes of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Curitiba and Belo Hori-
zonte, Brazil had just over 37,000 kilometres of railway.
5 In
comparative terms the Brazilian network was miniscule: In
Britain in 1962, just before large-scale branch line closures,
there were 29,000 route kilometres in a country with a geo-
graphical area thirty-five times smaller than Brazil. In 1957
the Federal Government amalgamated the twenty compa-
nies and formed the RFFSA, representing the third phase of
the railway in Brazil.
6 In the late 1990s the final phase was
reached, with the dismantling and privatisation of the net-
work, which now had just over 28,000 route kilometres,
used mostly for container freight and mining products.
This paper will take one railway route as its case study,
the line from Santos on the Atlantic coast through São Paulo
and onwards to Jundiaí in the heart of the coffee-producing
region of the state of São Paulo. The San Paulo Railway (SPR)
was officially opened in 1867 and was owned and managed
by a British company for the full term of its concession until
1946. It spent the second half of the 20
th century as part of
the Brazilian national rail network before being privatised
in the late 1990s. This railway line has been a contested site
of railway imperialism, evidenced by the fact that it has been
known officially and unofficially by various names inclu -
ding the San Paulo Railway, São Paulo Railway , the Inglesa,
and the Estrada de Ferro Santos a Jundiaí. Each name for
this railway has denoted a particular gaze upon the lands -
cape and its transport system. This paper takes its concep-
tual standpoint from Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s notion of the
‘railway ensemble’, which recognizes that the railway is
both a product of a society and a producer of societal
8 It is thus a signifier and a signified. The railway
is the tracks, locomotives, the buildings, the bridges and cut-
tings, the timetables, the companies, the passengers, the
workers, the builders, the accidents, the landowners along
the trackside and all in between that is touched by the rail-
way: the travel, the writing, the painting, the preservation,
the memories and the imagining.
‘Official’ organisation of rail heritage
To put it bluntly: the museums run by the RFFSA since the
late 1970s have suffered from a lack of investment and a lack
of visitors. In 1980 the RFFSA developed PRESERFE with
the aim of identifying railway material to preserve and
restore. This national network of museums, typified by
static displays and plinthed locomotives, was the responsi-
bility of just one man at RFFSA headquarters in Rio de
Janeiro, and most of the fourteen sites were eventually
either abandoned or taken over by volunteers and slightly
reluctant local authorities.
In 1999 the RFFSA was put into administration as the pri-
vatisation programme was completed. In 2005, as part of the
winding up process, the legal responsibility for the written
archives and all artefacts passed to the Instituto do
Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN), the Fede -
ral government department responsible for heritage manage -
ment. In June of that year it was reported that Rio de
Janeiro’s only dedicated railway museum, the Centro de
Preservação da História Ferroviária do Rio de Janeiro,
created in 1984 at Engenho de Dentro in a poor northern
suburb, had closed.
9 The reason given was that there were
not enough security guards available to allow the building
to be left open. The newspaper O Globosaid ‘The question
is whether this organisation [IPHAN] has the money and
staff to look after these [railway] buildings and artefacts.’
My estimate, based on interviews with RFFSA staff, is that
the museum had an average of just four hundred visitors per
month – including students, school trips and public.
11 This
appa rent abandonment of care and responsibility adds
weight to the assertion that railway history is not regarded
by the State as ‘heritage’. One of the other sites run by the
RFFSA, the railway museum at the village of Paranapiacaba,
discussed later in this paper, has had a similar experience.
The difference there, however, has been that the local com-
munity has organised a project to create something of its
own out of the railway heritage in that village: an example
of the public deciding for itself what is ‘railway heritage’ by
creating volunteer and community groups away from the
State’s institutional machinery and mechanisms.
‘Unofficial’ organisation of rail heritage
The voluntary sector has fared much better in terms of visi -
tor figures. The reason, this paper suggests, is that these
sites include live-steam experiences. They represent a new
departure for museums in Brazil, since more often than not
‘you often hear the use of the term “museum” synony-
mously with the past, with stagnation.’
12 The rail sites with
live steam are anything if stagnant or detached from their
publics. The volunteer-led ones are part of what Myrian
Santos identifies as a new breed of ‘local’ museums that
have emerged since the 1960s.
13 In the rail heritage sector
these voluntary groups started in 1977 at Campinas in São
Paulo State when the ABPF was formed.
The birthplace of Brazil’s rail preservation movement,
Campinas, is an example of what the voluntary sector can
achieve. Using track from the former Companhia Mogyana
de Estradas de Ferro , the group has invented its own name,
Viação Férrea Campinas-Jaguariúna and has built up an im-
pressive locomotive and carriage collection. The heritage
trip includes docent interpretations of the coffee planta-
tions and the importance of the railway to the local econ-
omy. The fact this line was used in a major TV soap opera
in 1998/9 adds to the feeling of glamour that has been pro-
duced by curators here. It is the locomotives that are the
stars, applauded by passengers as they noisily arrive at the
platform. My estimate is that this heritage steam attraction
has between 35 and 40 thousand visitors per year.
Case Study – Paranapiacaba
When it was opened in 1867 this San Paulo Railwaystation
next to the upper winding house was known as Alto da
Serra. In 1907 the village changed its name to Paranapia-
caba, which in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language
means ‘place where you can see the sea’. Brazilian histo rians
remark how the village has an English style.
15 This could
either be the rows of wooden terraced housing built for the
railway workers or the clock tower known locally as ‘Big
Ben’. It has also been remarked that ‘the climate is reminis-
cent of London in winter, with the traditional fog…’
16 The
subtext of the discourse here underlies the dilemma the vil-
lage is facing: if ‘Brazil’ is regarded in the Brazilian imagi-
nary as combining the spiritual and emotional warmth of its
people with the tropical climate then Paranapiacaba, in its
‘London’ guise, is definitely not ‘Brazilian’ but rather a cold-
hearted place. The fact that the village has been denoted
with an indigenous name and is clearly part of the topogra-
phy of the Brazilian nation has led to a conflict which had
seen the virtual abandonment by the national rail company,
RFFSA, yet a strong sense of local pride within the residents
of the community. They appear to be going against official-
dom that is ignoring the local heritage and actually em -
bracing their feelings of being different and special.
The village began to fall into decay when the rope-
hauled winding system was closed down and replaced with
a rack railway in 1974-6. In 2001 suburban trains ran only
at weekends into Paranapiacaba, and the following year the
direct rail passenger service stopped running. Now to get to
the village passengers have to take the train from São Paulo
to Rio Grande da Serra and then a bus by road for the next
three stops on the line.
In 2002 the local council of Santo André acquired the old
English part of the village, but not the railway land, which
ABPF Campinas
‘continues to be abandoned’.17 The reason for this was that
the railway property was still legally owned by the State
railway company, RFFSA, in administration. The village has
twice been on the World Monuments Watch list of 100 most
endangered sites, in 2000 and 2002.
Work has been done to promote the village, with signage
and the development of a bed-and-breakfast scheme
whereby residents can let out their spare rooms to tourists
on a tax-break basis. The local authority continues to mar-
ket the village as a place to come for nature trails and walks
in the Atlantic mountains, with the railway remaining as an
unmentioned backdrop. The effect is to create an imaginary
of the ‘absent’, ghost-like, English railway workers. In 2001
I met Sra. Isobel Leite, a lady in her seventies, who told me
that she was the Railway Museum guide.
19 The museum is
housed in the old rope-winding shed and was all but aban-
doned with no permanent staff on duty. Sra. Isobel said her
father started work in 1930 on the winding gear and she was
educated and bought up in the ‘English’ manner with strict
schooling. She said her father and her husband were both
train drivers. She then talked about recent events in
Paranapiacaba, of trouble with criminal gangs: the PCC
(Primeiro Comando do Capital) and drug dealers which, she
said meant ‘no one comes, everyone’s scared. It’s been like
this for two years. We hardly have any visitors.’ Then she
turned to survey the railway buildings behind her and said,
‘I don’t know who’ll look after this now. It’s all but aban-
doned. The Prefeitura [local authority] pays nothing, nei-
ther does the RFFSA.’ Such frustration at inaction by the
authorities is common in Brazil, however the renewed
activity by the volunteers of the ABPF in 2006, and the
launching of live steam excursions at weekends has led to
renewed tourist interest in the village.
The group of schoolchildren I met were full of enthusiasm
after their visit and talk with Sra. Isobel on that cold foggy
day, with the mountain mists swirling into the railway sheds
and around the ironwork of the huge stationary steam win -
ding engines. Their teacher said his trip with the pupils had
been a success, ‘I think it’s fundamental to bring children
here. They get direct contact with the objects and artefacts
and it makes their memories stronger. It gives them a real
impression of what was the process of technological evolu-
tion that we’ve been through in the past 150 years.’
The route of the San Paulo Railwaycontinues to be
heavily used for rail freight traffic. Currently a rack system,
installed in the mid 1970s, is being used. In 2005, with a
forecast for 10 million tonnes of freight including iron ore
and soya for the year end, a tender had been put out to
re-build and re-open the original rope line to haul the extra
freight up the one-in-ten inclines, effectively doubling the
line’s current capacity.
Reasons for conflicts and problems
The Brazilian government, under President Lula, has iden-
tified ‘culture’ as an important policy area, but so far rail-
way museums have not felt the full benefit of this
enlightened approach. The tendency has been to favour the
larger state-run established museums of art and history
in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Volunteer groups are
developing railway heritage instead.
The Brazilian Government is currently actively engaged
in both creating a national museums policy and with
encouraging theoretical debates about museology. This is
to be welcomed. In 2003 Gilberto Gil (a leading singer-song-
writer in the Tropicalia movement who was imprisoned and
exiled by the military regime of the 1960s) was appointed
Minister of Culture and launched his National Museums
Policy in the same year. The aims included the creation of
a national museum network, the development of staff trai -
ning, and the refinancing of the museum sector.
22 However,
the problems are significant: the policy remains centred on
the larger organisations – and even the Ministry of Culture
recognises that the networking which has occurred in the
past few years has mostly been concentrated around forty
of the centrally funded or university-based museums
located in the major population centres of São Paulo, Rio
de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Salvador.
23 In the absence of
audited statistics, a 2001 estimate concluded that there were
between 1,100 and 1,300 museums in Brazil.
24 This suggests
that an elite is still being maintained and that the smaller
local museums away from the metropolitan centres remain
out of the development loop.
Where do railway museums fit into this? The short
answer is that they are waiting to be ‘recognised’ by the
State cultural management apparatus.
There is a long historical precedent to the government’s
involvement in museum culture. The first public museum
in Brazil was established in 1808 in Rio de Janeiro: the
Museu Real changed its name to the Museu Nacional in
1822, the year of Brazil’s independence.
25 The collection was
created by and for the ruling elite, and set a seal on the
concept of the museum in Brazil that has persisted until the
The use of museums as a tool of cultural management in
Brazil began in earnest in the 1930s, and Daryle Williams
says the institutions that have been created ‘…were exem-
plars of the sometimes paternalistic, typically authori -
tarian, and invariably nationalistic process of state and
nation building that characterizes modern Brazilian poli -
tical history.’
26 Williams observes that this tendency has
continued into the 1990s and I find no evidence from the
first few years of the 21
st century to challenge this view.
Myrian Santos argues that,
Brazil, like any other nation-state, also needed well-es-
tablished symbols and collective memories. But these
symbols were certainly the result of different historically
produced practices, which makes the narratives of
Brazilian museums different in many aspects from those
of other nations. One of the key points to be taken into
account here is the fact that museums were created in a
hierarchical society, in which people hardly believed in
the ethos of public service for everyone. In short, muse-
ums were not created and do not operate under the
shared belief in the equality of access and rights.
In a further essay, Myrian Santos goes on to identify a series
of factors that have given rise to the lack of public interest
in museums. Firstly, economic poverty has led to museums
missing out on public funds. Secondly, with a relatively
high illiteracy rate, Brazilian museums remain outside the
scope of a population that is not equipped with the intel-
lectual tools to engage with displays. The third factor is,
according to Santos, that ‘a museum visit does not figure
typically amongst Brazilian cultural habits.’
One example of a State intervention in museum planning
is the creation in 2005 at the Estação da Luz in São Paulo of
the Museu da Língua Portuguesa. The Estação da Luz was
opened in 1901. A fire badly damaged the Victorian-style
building in 1946, on the eve of the San Paulo Railway’s han-
dover to the Brazilian authorities at the end of the British
concession. The building has undergone substantial
restoration both with an exterior repaint and internally
where the lowering of the track beds has allowed for the
installation of new train electrification systems. Below
ground a passenger interchange has been opened to link
the suburban train network and the metro station of the
same name next door. This work, portrayed as a ‘moderni-
sation’ in public exhibitions, posters and leaflets issued by
the State of São Paulo, was completed in late 2004.
I read the discourse here as one of heritage forgetting.
From the outside the building speaks of British economic
imperialism; it stands uncomfortably on its own in a skyline
mixed with Portuguese colonial style churches and mod-
ernist Brazilian skyscrapers – with an architectural style
that has been described as ‘austere English’.
29 It has failed
to fit in to the urban landscape and hence is not
denoted as a site of railway heritage to be claimed, pre-
served and turned into a museum of transport. The out-
come was revealed in 2005 when it was publicly dubbed the
‘Estação da Luz da Nossa Língua’ (Station of Light of Our
Language), a ‘reference centre for the Portuguese
30 The project, costing R$ 30 million (UK£ 6 mil-
lion), was a partnership between the Federal Ministry of
Culture and big businesses in Brazil including Petrobras,
TV Globo and IBM Brasil. The Brazilianisation of the train
terminus was now complete with this museum of ‘our’ lan-
guage, which opened in the balcony space above the book-
ing hall effectively ignoring the railway heritage. The
transport function of this building, meanwhile, has been
modernised in recognition that it is a working station rather
than an historic landscape.
Summary and conclusions
Federal State-run railway museums, like other museums in
Brazil, suffer from a lack of audiences, lack of investment,
lack of leadership and a lack of policy. As I have demon-
strated, the National Museum Policy is only for the privi-
leged few whilst the current academic theorizing in
museums studies in Brazil is concentrated around the metro -
politan centres and the larger institutions. However, there is
an untapped audience that wants to share its personal mem-
ories – most specifically in a live steam environment.
This case study shows the manner in which Brazilians
are engaging with transport museums. Displays in the es-
tablished RFFSA/PRESERFE sites have tended to follow
hierarchical narratives and reflect elite histories. Such sites
have been shunned and ignored by the vast majority of the
museum-visiting public. Institutionalised attitudes that dis-
count the relevance of railway heritage mean that museums
set up by the RFFSA have been starved of money, and have
been faced with closure. The future for this type of muse-
ums does not look good. It has also led to São Paulo’s
Estação da Luz being re-imagined as a centre of the
Portuguese language.
However, communities such as at Paranapiacaba do
realise the potential that railway heritage may be able to
deliver in terms of tourism. Here they face the bureaucratic
problem of trying to develop a rail landscape without cur-
rently owning the land belonging to the RFFSA that con-
tains a museum and winding station: key elements of the
heritage. Both here and at Campinas the ABPF has discov-
ered that there exists an appetite amongst a section of the
Brazilian public for stories and representations of transport
history. These are narratives bound into the paternalistic
and familial nature of society that relate stories of immigra-
tion and the transportation by rail of millions of people
arriving from Europe to the coffee plantations of the interior
of São Paulo. These then are the private memories that are
borne out of public technology in Brazil.
Buzelin, José Emílio de Castro H., and Coelho, Eduardo J.J., and Setti,
João Bosco, MRS Logistica: A Ferrovia de Minas, Rio e São Paulo
(Rio de Janeiro, 2002).
Cooper, Martin, Steam Railways in Brazil – Their Cultural Context and
Preservation, unpublished Masters thesis (University of York,
Department of History, 2002).
David, Eduardo, 127 Anos de Ferrovia (Juiz de Fora, 1985).
Fausto, Boris, A Concise History of Brazil, Trans. Arthur Brakel
(Cambridge, 1999).
Giesbrecht, Ralph Mennucci, ‘Estações Ferroviárias do Estado de São
Paulo: Paranapiacaba’, at http://www.estacoesferroviarias.com.br/
p/paranapiacaba.htm accessed on 15/06/05.
Instituto Brasileiro de Geografica e EstatísticaBrasil em Números/
Brazil in Figures,Vol. 9 (Rio de Janeiro, 2001).
Lewis, Colin M., Public Policy and Private Initiative: Railway Building
in São Paulo, 1860-1889(London, 1991).
Massarani, Emmanuel von Lauestein, and Delellis, Rosana, A Era do
Trem(São Paulo, 1999).
Ministério da Cultura, Política Nacional de Museus: Memória e Cida-
dania(Brasilia, 2003).
Ministério da Cultura, Política Nacional de Museus: Relatório de
Gestão 2003-2004(Brasilia, 2005).
Revista Ferroviaria, Suplemento: Estradas de Ferro do Brasil (Rio
de Janeiro, 1957).
Robbins, Michael, The Railway Age(3rd ed., Manchester, 1998).
Santos, Myrian, ‘Brazilian Museums, Public Policy and the Missing
Public’, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Vol. 10, 2001,
pp. 67-81.
Santos, Myrian, ‘The New Dynamic of Blockbuster Exhibitions: The
Case of Brazilian Museums’, in Bulletin of Latin American
Research, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2001, pp. 29-45.
Saraiva, Ana Rosa, and Pessurno, Creso, and Oliveira, Marcela, and
Lowenkron, Laura, ‘Estação da Luz – Um Novo Brilho na Vida Pau-
listana’, at http://www.revistamuseu.com.br/naestrada/naes-
trada.asp?id=3714 accessed on 31/05/05.
Schiv elbusch, Wolfgang, The Railway Journey: Trains and Travel in the
thCentury, Trans. Anselm Hollo (Oxford, 1980).
Summerhill, William R., Order against Progress: Government, Foreign
Investment and Railroads in Brazil 1854-1913(Stanford, California,
Telles, Pedro Carlos da Silva, História da Engenharia no Brasil (2nd
edn., 2 vols, Rio da Janeiro, 1994).
Trigo, Luiz Gonzaga Godoi, Viagem na memoria: Guia Histórico das
Viagens e do Turismo no Brasil (São Paulo, 2000).
Velthem, Lucia Hussak van, and Toledo, Franciza Lima, and Benchi-
mol, Alegria, and Arraes, Rosa Lourenço, and Souza, Ruth Cortez
de, ‘A Coleção Etnográfica do Museu Goeldi: Memória e Conserva-
ção’, in MUSAS – Revista Brasileira de Museus e Museologia, Vol.
1, No. 1, 2004.
Williams, Daryle, Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime, 1930-
1945(Durham & London, 2001).
‘Entidades de Preservação Ferroviárias’, at http://www.trem.org.br/
guiaent.htm last accessed on 03/05/07.
‘Brazil, Vila de Paranapiacaba’, http://wmf.org/html/programs/
bravil.html accessed on 15/06/05.
1 Colin M. Lewis, Public Policy and Private Initiative: Railway Building
in São Paulo, 1860-1889 , (London, 1991); William R. Summerhill, Order
against Progress: Government, Foreign Investment and Railroads in
Brazil 1854-1913, (Stanford, California, 2003).
2 Michael Robbins, The Railway Age, (3rd ed., Manchester, 1998), p. 23.
3 Boris Fausto, A Concise History of Brazil, Trans. Arthur Brakel
(Cambridge, 1999), pp. 112-117.
4 Pedro Carlos da Silva Telles, História da Engenharia no Brasil (2nd
edn., 2 vols, Rio da Janeiro, 1994), vol. 1, pp. 234-235.
5 Revista Ferroviaria (Rio de Janeiro, 1957), Suplemento: Estradas de
Ferro do Brasil, p. 19.
6 For a summary of the creation of the RFFSA see: Eduardo David, 127
Anos de Ferrovia (Juiz de Fora, MG, 1985), p. 75.
7 Brasil em Números/Brazil in Figures, Instituto Brasileiro de Geogra-
fica e Estatística (Rio de Janeiro, 2001), Vol. 9. p. 253.
8 Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: Trains and Travel in
the 19
thCentury, Trans. Anselm Hollo, (Oxford, 1980), pp. 19 – 40.
9 O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 2 June 2005, p. 20
10 O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 2 June 2005, p. 20
11 Martin Cooper, Steam Railways in Brazil – Their Cultural Context and
Preservation, unpublished Masters thesis, (University of York, Depart-
ment of History, 2002) p. 108.
12 Lucia Hussak van Velthem, Franciza Lima Toledo, Alegria Benchi-
mol, Rosa Lourenço Arraes and Ruth Cortez de Souza, ‘A Coleção Et-
nográfica do Museu Goeldi: Memória e Conservação’, in MUSAS –
Revista Brasileira de Museus e Museologia, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2004, p. 123.
13 Myrian Santos, ‘Brazilian Museums, Public Policy and the Missing Pub-
lic’, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Vol. 10, 2001, pp. 69-73.
14 ‘Entidades de Preservação Ferroviárias’, at http://www.trem.org.br/
guiaent.htm last accessed on 03/05/07.
15 Ralph Mennucci Giesbrecht, ‘Estações Ferroviárias do Estado de São
Paulo: Paranapiacaba’, last updated 12/02/05. http://www.estacoesfer-
roviarias.com.br/ p/paranapiacaba.htm accessed on 15/06/05
16 José Emílio de Castro H. Buzelin, Eduardo J.J. Coelho & João Bosco
Setti, MRS Logistica: A Ferrovia de Minas, Rio e São Paulo, (Rio de Ja-
neiro, 2002), p. 75.
17 Ralph Giesbrecht, Estações Ferroviárias do Estado de São Paulo:
18 ‘Brazil, Vila de Paranapiacaba’, http://wmf.org/html/programs/
bravil.html accessed on 15/06/05.
19 Sra. Isobel Leite, Personal interview, September 2001.
20 Personal interview, September 2001.
21 O Estado de São Paulo, 12 June 2005.
22 Ministério da Cultura, Política Nacional de Museus: Memória e Cida-
dania, Brasilia, 2003.
23 Ministério da Cultura, Política Nacional de Museus: Relatório de Ges-
tão 2003-2004,Brasilia, 2005, p 10.
24 Myrian Santos, ‘Brazilian Museums’, pp. 67-81. Even in 2003 the
Ministry of Culture did not know the exact figure: see Política Nacional
de Museus: Relatório de Gestão p. 47.
25 Luiz Gonzaga Godoi Trigo, Viagem na memoria: Guia Histórico das
Viagens e do Turismo no Brasil (São Paulo, 2000), p. 56.
26 Daryle Williams, Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime,
1930-1945, (Durham & London, 2001), p. 52.
27 Myrian Santos, ‘The New Dynamic of Blockbuster Exhibitions: The
Case of Brazilian Museums’, in Bulletin of Latin American Research,
Vol. 20, No. 1, 2001, p. 33.
28 Myrian Santos, ‘Brazilian Museums’, p. 67.
29 Emmanuel von Lauestein Massarani & Rosana Delellis, A Era do
Trem(São Paulo, 1999), p. 29
30 Ana Rosa Saraiva, Creso Pessurno, Marcela Oliveira and Laura
Lowenkron, ‘Estação da Luz – Um Novo Brilho na Vida Paulistana’, at
accessed on 31/05/05.
I should start by saying that I approach this subject from
two distinct viewpoints. First, as Chairman of Trustees of
the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, I am ultimately re-
sponsible for its well-being. But as a professional historian
who has studied the history of museums, I am fascinated
by the way that museums and their displays are shaped by
fashionable trends, new technologies, and by ideologies,
some of which are due to wider intellectual developments
in society as well as to the overall organisation of the mu-
seums sector. This paper outlines how we attempt to strike
a balance, to maintain our integrity and individuality and
to survive financially, whilst negotiating those larger forces
upon which we can have little or no impact. It will briefly
describe the Museum, how it is organised, and its key
strengths. Then the position of independent museums
within the larger UK museum environment will be outlined,
with a discussion of how we approach the problems of
surviving and adapting to a changing world.
The Museum
What sort of museum are we? The Captain Cook Memorial
Museum is not perhaps typical as far as maritime museums
are concerned. We are an independent museum of the type
that is governed by a trust deed with trustees. It is cate-
gorised as a charity, and run by volunteers. There are no
museum professionals on the staff, though there is access
to a curatorial advisor, the regional Museums Development
Officer, and other sources of expertise through personal
contacts. Volunteers manage the Museum on a day-to-day
basis, and undertake all the functions – finance, marketing,
education, collections care, temporary exhibitions, atten-
dants, and so on. We receive occasional grants but no regu -
lar public funding, and have only one full-time employee,
the ‘Administrator’, who in this case is an ex-policeman who
does everything from dealing with paperwork to mending
the boiler. Our aim as expressed in our founding document
is ‘to celebrate the life and achievements of Captain Cook’.
We have however broadened that overall aim to include
those who sailed with him, for example the officers, ship’s
crews, supernumeraries, as well as those who stayed
behind (the lives of the women and wives of men at sea is
often forgotten), and of course those whom he met during
The Small Independent Museum –
thriving in a complex environment?
Sophie Forgan, Chairman, Trustees of the Captain Cook Memorial Museum,
Whitby, England
Exterior of the house from the rear entrance courtyard
showing the 17th century house with staircase tower, and
the 18th century wing to the right.
the course of those three extraordinary voyages of explo-
1 Essentially therefore we are a personality museum,
and our material and the stories we can tell relate in the
main to one man, Captain Cook, with all the advantages
and drawbacks that being a personality museum brings.
What are our strengths? First of all, the site and sense
of place. The Museum is in a 17
th century Grade 1 listed
building which belonged to the master-mariner and ship
owner John Walker, to whom the young Cook was appren-
ticed. It is a beautiful and atmospheric space; a fitting
‘shrine’ for Cook devotees (and there are quite a lot of
those), and having some attributes of a shrine is essential
if you are a personality museum.
Authenticity for us is very important, the magic of the
real, manifested in the meticulous restoration of the house
(correct paint colours, original panelling), and our desire
to let the house and the site speak for itself where possible
without too many modern intrusions, though lighting and
fire-alarm requirements inevitably have to be catered for.
The second strength is in the collections. We have, and con-
tinue to build up, a fine collection of authentic material.
The visitor thus finds original Cook material in the building
in which Cook lodged as a young apprentice, where he be-
came life-long friends with the shipmaster John Walker, and
to which he returned once shortly after he had become fa-
mous as captain and navigator. There is the occasional re-
production where we need to fill a gap in the story, and we
use some fine recently made models of Cook’s ships, but we
aim to build up a high-quality collection of genuine and rel-
evant material carefully displayed (for example, letters in
Cook’s hand, contemporary drawings and documents). So
the authenticity of the house and site is matched by the
authenticity of the contents and the material displayed.
Third, one of the strengths is our location in a tourist
centre such as Whitby. Once the sixth biggest ship-owning
port in the country, then centre of the whaling and fishing
industries, the town is now still about the same size and
population as it was in the 18
th century.3 One small boat-
building yard still survives, the fishing has virtually all
gone, and it is now a place to moor your yacht and enjoy
the pleasures of fish & chips and long sandy beaches. It is
above all a tourism destination. This of course also has its
problems – if the town flourishes and is seen to be attractive
to a wide variety of visitors, then we are likely to thrive. But
seaside towns are notoriously tricky places, with a tendency
to slip down market, and moreover Whitby has little in the
way of normal public transport infrastructure. The railway
link comes via Middlesbrough, not Scarborough, though for
steam train buffs there is the splendid North York Moors
Railway. Their services however function as an excursion
rather than a means of regular transport. So the majority of
visitors have to come by car, and parking becomes difficult.
The quality and maintenance of the public realm is crucial,
together with that individual mix of old and new, quirky or
quality shops, refreshments, the sensitive conservation of
an historic environment, in order to ensure that the town
will remain an attractive destination.
How do we function? We are not rich and have to cover
our out-goings. The governing Trust has a very modest
capital. No public authority would take us on – we run on
a shoestring compared with publicly funded museums, at
one quarter of the cash cost. We are almost wholly depen -
dent for revenue on visitor admission charges. But being
independent does give us a certain freedom, to do things
the way we want, to do things simply, and to do it ourselves.
Nevertheless we have to be extremely cost-conscious,
because fluctuations in the market will often happen for no
apparent reason and we can have little direct impact on the
larger tourism market. So the problem is how to move for-
ward, to keep building our collection, and ensure that the
Museum remains a thriving institution. But we also have to
operate within that more complex environment mentioned
in the title.
A complex environment
To talk about the museums environment in Britain is a huge
topic, and this is a personal view. No doubt that of a na-
tional or regional museum would be very different.
Nonetheless we see the museums world as characterised by
increasing political direction and bureaucracy.
Taking political direction first, the Department of Cul-
ture, Media & Sport sets the overall agenda for museums
and the cultural sector. Briefly, and with some over-simpli-
fication, museums are seen by the DCMS as contributing
first and foremost to the Government education and social
inclusion agenda, rather than having an intrinsic value for
their own sake. Moreover, museums should be able to
demonstrate ‘value for money’ to the Treasury in return for
funding, and therefore have to provide measurable statis-
tics as evidence for this. This is all very well and there is
much to value in using museums as a core part of national
education, but we are not a branch of social services, nor
has Whitby the sort of multicultural ethnic mix as, say,
Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield or other northern cities.
Government driven reorganisation of the sector has also
resulted in an increase in bureaucracy with additional lay-
ers of organisation. The Museums Libraries and Archives
Council heads a regional network of councils similar to the
former regional museums council, but its scope is wider (in-
cluding libraries and archives) and at the same time the def-
inition of museum categories narrower. Technically, we are
simply a small independent which would be expected to
serve primarily its local community. 5 This is not an accurate
prescription. We may be small, but we serve national and
international audiences, of whom at least 10% are from
overseas. We would argue thatwithour local community,
we serve tourists. But somehow tourists are not seen to
count as having the same value, as having a proper ‘educa-
tional’ experience. Furthermore, the new accreditation
regime that sets out the minimum standard a museum
should achieve is more onerous than its predecessor, the
museums’ registration scheme. Indeed, we find it extraor-
dinary that we have to produce a forward plan that may be
examined by strangers in London. In business this would
be unheard of! In addition, devolving many of the training
and grant-giving programmes to regional ‘hub’ museums
means entrenching a political philosophy (museums are
valued primarily as agents of education, social change and
community cohesion), as well as bureaucratic modes of
procedure. Finally, there is the demand for evidence, for
‘proof’ that the money has been well spent. This means
gathering statistics for ‘outcomes’ or ‘outputs’ for what are
essentially infinitely diverse and varied experiences. In-
deed, from an academic viewpoint there is a fundamental
confusion and lack of rigour as to what might constitute ‘ev-
idence’. The Generic Learning Outcomes structure is sup-
posed to provide a model of how to gather such evidence,
but I would argue that it is intellectually unsound and un-
rigorous in approach. Moreover, on a practical level it ap-
pals our volunteers, many of whom are retired professionals
with years of experience in teaching, the services, business,
engineering and so on. They volunteer because they enjoy
and love the museum, not to wrestle with the language of
‘outcomes’, the burden of collecting ‘evidence’ and filling
in forms.
Nor should we forget developments in the larger Tourism
scene. Again it has been “all change” in this respect over
the past two to three years.
6 Some of the changes are clearly
to the good, but we are as yet unsure whether there will be
the sort of regional support that we need. We cannot, after
all, bring tourists to Yorkshire, but after they have arrived,
we can suggest they come to Whitby and to the Museum.
Each international tourist that we help to bring to Yorkshire
brings a useful economic benefit. However, we are con-
cerned lest the promotion of tourism be fragmented and
made, for funding reasons, to coincide with Government-
defined regional divisions. Tourism follows natural bound-
aries and takes sometimes unexpected directions, which do
not necessarily coincide with official regional boundaries.
How to survive?
In a world where there is much change, political and bu-
reaucratic pressures from official organisations, let alone
larger economic developments and uncertainties, there is
obviously no single solution for survival, and we have to be
flexible and constantly alert to whatever opportunities
might present themselves. But above all, we believe that we
must remain true to our core values of quality and authen-
ticity. To do less would be unworthy as custodians of the
site and the collections. And being true to our core values
has a corollary – that we appeal to aspiration, that we do
not dumb down, that we never condescend to our visitors.
We do not treat our audiences as illiterate with a maximum
attention span of five seconds. Some indeed may well have
a pretty short attention span (especially those who can’t
wait to get outside and have a smoke!) but people realise
when they are being condescended to and resent it. So we
respect our audiences.
We put our main effort into education, acquisitions and
exhibitions. Each links to audiences and to our marketing.
Taking each in turn, first, education: we work hard to at-
tract schools and have most success with primary or junior
schools from a distance that have decided on a school trip
to the seaside, to Whitby. Increasingly schools are pres-
sured to make sure that all visits are curriculum linked, and
Captain Cook and 18th century exploration is not on the
core curriculum. But we do find many cross-curriculum
links (for example the prevention of scurvy, where Cook was
uniquely successful, relates to science, health and diet),
and indeed we find that many teachers actually want a
Two school groups ready to enter the Museum; visits often
start in the courtyard where there is explanatory visual
material displayed.
general educational experience rather than one that is cur-
riculum targeted at every turn. Hearing a story, talking with
experienced ex-teachers, and then exploring the museum
provides the general pattern for a visit. We are also extend-
ing our range as we acquire different objects, especially
paintings, and this year we are expanding into art-based
topics. We are visited too by an increasing number of
foreign schools, especially French, but also Scandinavian,
Spanish, German and Italian. The demand is such that we
have translated our house guide into French and Norwe-
gian, and we also make a point, if possible, of giving a talk
in French to French groups. It helps to control a large group,
and makes for a much more fruitful visit. Education is a
key part of our activities, accounting for 10% or just over of
our numbers.
Next, continuing to acquire new material is key to en -
suring that the collection remains fresh and interesting. Our
problem is that most material relating to Cook is hugely
expensive! And appropriate material is not necessarily there
to be collected, as it were, but emerges with little warning,
frequently at auction. We have two approaches: the first is
to raise the money ourselves, through private trusts and
public bodies such as the Art Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase
Grant Fund, and recently too from the Heritage Lottery
This is of course a great deal of work, but we have found
that once these bodies accept what and who you are, and
become familiar with the Museum, then it is just that much
easier. It may too be regarded as a benefit if acquisitions are
not concentrated in the major metropolitan museums. The
second approach is that of partnership: when the William
Parry portrait of ‘Omai, Sir Joseph Banks and Dr. Daniel
Solander’ came up for sale, we had already taken a lead in
opposing its export, but it was far too expensive for us to
acquire, or indeed for most other institutions. In the event
a partnership was formed together with the National Por-
trait Gallery in London (who wanted the portrait because it
depicted important people at a particular moment in En-
lightenment thought) and with the National Museums &
Galleries of Wales in Cardiff (who were interested because
Parry was a Welsh painter). The two national museums
were able to complete the fundraising, and the three of us
now own the painting. It circulates between the three insti-
tutions according to a ten-year cycle, and all details regard-
ing transport, conservation, insurance, photographic rights
and so on, are covered by a collaboration agreement. In fact
the collaboration agreement was drawn up and agreed by
the three parties before we let the lawyers get to work on it,
which was much cheaper all round! Yes, the agreement de-
pends on co-operation and goodwill, but that is also in the
self-interest of each party.
The final strand concerns temporary exhibitions. Like ac-
quisitions, special exhibitions are essential to ensuring that
the museum does not become fossilised with unchanging
and increasingly unloved displays. We are very constrained
by space, our only exhibition space is in the attic where the
apprentices once slept, so again we have to ensure that
what we show is appropriate and does not work against the
space, but in harmony with it. Hence we have rather old
fashioned looking cases, with a number of movable boards
for mounting texts and reproductions. For the last decade
we have put on a new special exhibition each year, seeking
partnerships wherever there are natural links. Our most re-
cent exhibitions were:
2003 Boys at Sea: servants, apprentices, midshipmen and
young gentlemen
2004 Curiosities from the Endeavour(jointly organised
with the Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford.
2005 Skin Deep: a history of tattooing(the National Mar-
itime Museum’s first travelling exhibition)
William Hodges, The Resolution in a stream of pack-ice, ac-
quired in 2006 with the help of the Garfield Weston Foun-
dation, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund,
the Normanby Trust and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.
2006 A Tale of Two Captains: Cook and Bligh
2007 Botanical Endeavours! Sir Joseph Banks and his
Legacy(with much material from the Royal Botanic
Gardens Kew)
What do our exhibitions do, and indeed what can small
temporary exhibitions do? Obviously they inform and edu-
cate in a lightly didactic manner. We can take a mildly revi-
sionist stance. For example we attacked some of the myths
surrounding Captain Bligh in terms of leadership and the
qualities required of an 18
th century captain. We do indeed
find that it is possible to add to knowledge in our area, and
that big museums are not always as expert in the field as
everyone might believe. We can tell stories with a great deal
of human interest, for instance about the boys who went to
sea with Captain Cook, the conditions they lived in, and the
variety of their later careers (one threatened to stab the cook
and was later killed in a duel, two became admirals, an-
other an explorer, and several were demoted for being wild
and drunk). We can also attack the gender imbalance of an
emphasis on macho exploration with all those men going
off and doing incredible things. For example, the modern
origins of tattooing may be in the Pacific but in the world
today it appeals across the spectrum. If we manage to raise
the money to produce a catalogue, that is very satisfying,
but we find that catalogues tend not to be bestsellers.
7 So
we are considering rather producing in-house pamphlets or
handouts that can be given away or sold for a small
amount. A key point is that normally we borrow material
from national institutions or major collections elsewhere,
so that people will be seeing something they might not
otherwise get the chance to view.
Then naturally we use exhibitions to enhance the visitor
experience, to provide depth as well as surprise and, hope-
fully, delight. As historians of the museum well know, ‘won-
der’ was a potent factor in the early museum and the
creation of collections.
9 We cannot amaze with blockbuster
exhibition, with the huge exhibit, with monuments of tech-
nology such as the Flying Scotsman, but we can encourage
and try to communicate the sense of wonder and curiosity
that animated early explorers and collectors. That means
encouraging visitors to look, and ‘looking’ is after all an
interactive experience, not as some experts would argue,
simply a matter of passive consumption. Exhibitions do not
always need expensive gizmos, but careful and attractive
arrangements, a feel for the aesthetics of the object and the
place, and a friendly volunteer around to point the visitor
in the right direction.
Special exhibitions in addition perform a key marketing
role, and provide the main image and focus of publicity
each year. They give us something new and different to talk
about. Our publicity used to be rather low-key and pretty
unchanging, but that is not good enough for today’s
tourists, or for the trade that wants fresh, attractive litera-
ture annually. We now produce each year a new leaflet and
a small A4 sized poster, which doubles as an insert in a
browser-folder of regional tourist attractions. We try to give
a thoroughly professional look to our publicity and it also
means that we can use a fabulous image of something that
we do not have in the collection. We spend rather more on
publicity than the average small independent, but do not
put it into general advertising in papers or magazines, but
into seeing that we have good design, good material and en-
suring that it is well distributed within the immediate
region. Indeed we focus particularly on the distribution of
material, on seeing that it does get into all the Tourist
Information Offices, into all the hotels, bed & breakfasts
and caravan parks in the area.
Finally, exhibitions provide the impetus for other activi-
ties that will encourage people to visit. During the past few
Example of small poster advertising 2003 exhibition with
an engraving from the National Maritime Museum.
years we have made increasing moves towards providing a
range of complementary activities, though it depends on
having the right volunteers to manage events or activities.
But each exhibition increasingly gives us opportunities to
target particular audiences in addition to general audiences
and our international visitors. For example, tattooing was
very popular with the sort of people who do not normally
visit the Museum, especially when we had an event in
which people could come in and have their tattoos pho-
tographed by a professional. Our activities have included
commissioning a poem, giving talks, holding creative em-
broidery workshops, sea shanty singing, and this year we
are doing flax weaving, Maori basket marking and cooking
breadfruit. So while even small exhibitions are fairly expen-
sive to mount, they are integral to all our activities for
keeping the Museum fresh, encouraging repeat visits,
targeting our marketing and providing a focus for attracting
new audiences.
Life is rarely easy for the small independent, but nor is it
necessarily so for larger museums. Without a large endow-
ment, we are constrained by cost, by the fact that some
sources of money formerly available have disappeared, and
by the need to ensure that we balance the books. But ulti-
mately, we are in fact freer of political pressures and con-
trol. We do not have to constantly keep an eye on our
politicians. We do have to cope with increasing bureau-
cracy, for accreditation and if we apply for some types of
grant. We are of course not immune from general economic
shifts, trends in leisure, and periodic reorganisations in the
tourism industry. We seek partnerships wherever possible
– in acquisitions, mounting exhibitions, marketing, and
with local and regional organisations.
At heart however, we believe that it is essential to define
our core values (authenticity, quality and no dumbing
down), to stick to them while remaining flexible and adap -
table. I will finish by recounting a little incident from a cou-
ple of years ago: during the tattooing exhibition we found
someone who agreed to put on a live demonstration of
traditional tattooing techniques. He brought along a friend
as model or victim, which was helpful as it meant we did
not have to get a health and safety licence.
They set up in the last room of the Museum, and were at
it most of the day. When I spoke to the tattooist, a modest
and pleasant young man, he said to me: “uh…wonderful…
I mean it was Captain Cook who brought tattooing back,
wasn’t it….it’s a privilege, a real privilege, to be doing this
here.. in this place.. where he used to be….” I can think of
no better recommendation.
1 The three voyages led by Captain Cook (1728-1779) took place from
1768-71, 1772-1775 and 1776-1780. Cook was killed in an affray in Hawaii
before the final voyage was completed.
2 There are only a small number of transport heroes commemorated in
such museums, notably George Stephenson at the Stephenson Birth-
place Cottage, Wylam, near Newcastle, though Brunel, Telford and oth-
ers are commemorated in larger museums, often centred around one
of their major works.
3 The significance of Whitby in the early modern shipping industry
should not be underestimated, and adds a significant dimension to the
Cook story; Rosalin Barker “Cook’s nursery: Whitby’s eighteenth-cen-
tury merchant fleet’, in Glyndwr Williams (ed.), Captain Cook: Explo-
rations and Reassessments, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2004, 7-20.
4 Scarborough Borough Council’s current Tourism Strategy aims to
improve quality and go upmarket. Implementation however is more
problematic and undermined by severe pressure on funds.
5 Resource/Council for Museums, Archives & Libraries, Renaissance in
the Regions: a new vision for England’s museums, 2001, 108.
6 The main changes include the abolition of the English Tourism Coun-
cil, the reorganisation of regional tourist boards, the channelling of
funding through the Regional Development Agencies, and the reorgan-
isation of local authority tourism support services into sub-regional
7 The catalogue of the 2004 exhibition however continues however to
sell; Jeremy Coote, Curiosities from the Endeavour: a forgotten collec-
tion, Whitby: Captain Cook Memorial Museum, 2004.
8 We can also bring together material from large institutions which has
not been done before because the objects are located in different de-
partments, e.g. in the 2007 exhibition, Banks’ walking stick (Economic
Botany) has joined his travelling chair (Kewensis), both from within
the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
9 See Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and
Scientific Culture in early modern Italy , Berkeley: University of Califor-
nia Press, 1994, and Ken Arnold, Cabinets for the Curious: Looking
Tattooing demonstration in the Museum 2005 Back at Early English Museums, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.
Railways began in the United Kingdom. Small beginnings,
then massive expansion leading to a proliferation of rail-
ways and massive over-provision. Then in more recent times
decline, closures and restructuring. Today, we have a much
smaller but a generally effective main line railway system.
The railway preservation movement – the Heritage Rail-
way movement – began in the United Kingdom. First, the
narrow-gauge Talyllyn Railway re-opened in 1951, well
ahead of anyone else followed by the standard gauge
Middleton Railway and then the Bluebell Railway, both in
1960. The Worth Valley Railway followed in 1968.
After that, in this country, proliferation! The umbrella
body for the UK Heritage Railways is the Heritage Railway
Association (HRA). HRA’s most recent available figures
show 87 standard gauge heritage railways, plus 35 narrow
gauge – plus 15 museums, 8 steam centres, 4 tramways. We
are a small country: having a total of 149 operating such
Heritage Railway enterprises surely represents proliferation
– and poses major questions about long-term sustainability.
HRA reports a total annual income for all these organisa-
tions of some £54M (about 80M Euro). The visitor figure is
some 6.6M/year. “Only” about 5.6M of these actually travel,
but between them they make some 14.1M passenger jour-
neys each year. Yes, it’s big business – but is it sustainable?
Heritage Railway maintenance, operating and renewal
costs continue to increase. There’s more and more external
regulation, all of which seems to cost money. Volunteer
numbers are reported as decreasing, with the correspon-
ding need to employ more people to ensure that things are
done – meaning more costs. But I need to return to my sub-
ject, which is railway carriages and their sustainability.
On occasion we lose focus and stop thinking about the
passenger. The passenger is the paying visitor to the Rail-
way: the person who represents most of the income. Hope-
fully he or she is enjoying the visit, and will return for
many further visits in the future. So let’s think about these
14.1M passenger journeys. Each one represents a “Visitor
Experience” and it is crucial to the continuing sustaina -
bility of the carriages (and of the Heritage Railways!) that
these visitor experiences are really positive ones and lead
to repeat visits.
Just about every Heritage Railway, world wide, uses a
picture of a steam locomotive on the front of their advertis-
ing literature. However, it’s noteworthy that most visitors
do not give a great deal of attention to whatever is at the
front of the train. The reason for this is the great majority of
the visitors are made up of family parties. Family parties
come primarily for a pleasant afternoon out. They may have
a modest general interest in railways. Particularly for what
seems to be an increasing number of grandparents taking
their grandchildren out for the day there will be a deal of
reminiscing about railway travel in the “old days”. The
thing conspicuous by its absence is a burning interest in
steam locomotives as such.
It is the railway experience as a wholethat is of impor-
tance to our visitors. It’s this that we need to emphasise and
develop to the very best of our abilities. And the place to
gain this experience is historically the place where passen-
gers – travellers, people – would have been, which is within
the railway carriage. That is where the visitors of today
spend the majority of their time on any Heritage Railway.
We owe it to them to make their visit a really positive “rail-
Challenges and Opportunities
for Railway Carriage Preservation in the UK
Michael Cope, Trustee, Vintage Carriages Trust.
The 2007 IATM Conference theme is “sustainability”. Within this theme, I am going to speak in
praise of the “preserved” railway carriage and its importance and relevance to the sustainability
of not just preserved railway carriages themselves but also and importantly to the sustainability
of the many Heritage Railways within the United Kingdom. In particular I’ll give you some appre-
ciation of the scale of Heritage Railways (and preserved carriages) in the UK.
way” experience. (And we owe this to ourselves – unless our
visitors have a really good experience, they won’t
come back!).
I’ll quote Linn Moedinger of the Strasburg Railway in
Pennsylvania, USA. When talking about interpretation of
the whole realm of railroading he said: “To look at a car
[carriage] with a ‘do not touch’ sign says ‘Oh, well, yeah,
that’s a really swell car’. But if you can’t get in that car, if
you can’t rattle down the line and hear the creak and groan,
and the smoke doesn’t get on your shirt, nobody is going to
have any idea what you are talking about.” For people
visiting any Heritage Railway, interpretation, learning and
enjoyment is very much centred on their experience within
the railway carriage. It’s their environment for most of their
Modern’ carriage preservation:
British Railways Standard Mark 1 and Mark 2 vehicles
How well do the carriages at present in use on UK Heritage
Railways contribute to the overall visitor experience?
Today, usually this means former British Railways Mark
1 carriages. A typical such carriage is seen below, this time
on the Worth Valley Railway. These carriages were the first
modern-generation all-steel British Railways passenger car-
riages to see volume production. Many hundreds of these
were built between 1954 and 1965. From the Heritage Rail-
way’s point of view they have considerable advantages:
– Fairly simple construction and so easy to maintain:
– Vacuum brakes – as applies for almost all of the locomo-
tives in preservation in the UK:
– Importantly, they were available at realistic prices when
most of the present Heritage Railways were being set up.
From the passengers’ point of view: they are adequately
comfortable, and have opening windows – meaning that
one can hear and smell and generally appreciate what’s
going on. For the Heritage Railways the Mark 1 carriage is a
pretty useful carriage, if possibly a little uninspiring. How-
ever, there are problems.
One which all too often evades us is a general feeling of
“tattiness” – torn or even missing luggage nets, sagging
seats, faded varnish, scuff marks on the doors, minor
damage to the woodwork. Overall this sort of thing repre-
sents a significant detraction from the visitors’ environment
and therefore from the overall visitor experience.
Of more significance to the long-term sustainability of
these carriages is the question of age. All the Mark 1 car-
riages are now over 40 years old, many are over 50 years old
– which is far beyond the coachbuilders’ design life. These
carriages are prone to significant problems with rust and
corrosion – the side panels, at the windows, and impor-
tantly the corner pillars. Many are approaching the time at
which major rebuilds will be needed. These will be expen-
sive. Sadly there’s no longer a continuing supply of Mark 1
carriages from the main line railways – none remain in
main-line operation. The available stock is therefore that
which already in a state of ‘preservation’ on the Heritage
Railways and elsewhere. So: how many Mark 1 railway car-
riages are available?
This question can be answered by reference to the source
material of the ongoing Railway Heritage Register (RHR)
Carriage Survey, a joint project under the auspices of the
HRA, the [British] National Railway Museum and the Lon-
don-based Transport Trust and of which the present author
is the Honorary Coordinator
1. The Survey cannot claim ab-
solute accuracy but it is felt that the figures now quoted are
indeed of good accuracy and will be of assistance in under-
standing the overall situation. The above-mentioned mate-
rial gives the number of complete Mark 1 railway carriages
‘preserved’ in the UK Heritage Railways as 1,059. Put an-
other way, that’s about 12 miles [19 km] of Mark 1 carriages!
This sounds a tremendous number. But we have previously
noted that there are 87 standard gauge Heritage Railways in
the UK. This gives an average of only about 12 such carriages
for each Railway, which does not give much flexibi lity.
Again noting that the long-term future of the Mark 1s not
being good, alternatives are necessary.
The successors to the Mark 1 carriages on the British
main line railway system were (somewhat predictably)
Mark 2 carriages. These were built in quantity between 1965
and 1974. There’s now some 371 of these available for use –
but this includes quite a number used by main line charter
tour operators.
The Mark 2 carriages are of integral construction: they
are air braked: and have progressed from pressure ventila-
tion and heating to full air-conditioning in the later versions
(including that shown below). Particularly for the later fully
air-conditioned versions, ongoing maintenance is rather
more demanding. Your author has no personal experience
of Mark 2 carriages in Heritage Railway operation but fears
that, particularly for these later builds, a great deal will be
lost from the visitor experience. Travelling in an air-condi-
tioned sealed metal box, with no opening windows, is a
long way from the Heritage Railway visitor experience as
generally understood. However, this may of necessity have
to be the way forward. If so, this question of “Visitor Expe-
rience” will need a great deal of thought.
Returning to the Mark 1 carriages: there is a parallel
problem. This is the need to identify the definitive Mark 1
carriage or more likely carriages for ongoing conservation
for the future, essentially as “museum” objects. Their
importance in UK main-line railway history is certainly
enough to justify this.
The RHR Carriage Survey gives an excellent starting
point for the “identify” part of this. There are however many
problems concerning the “conservation” part of any such
project – notably, ownership: responsibility: location:
access: and who pays. However, it is suggested that a deter-
mined effort should be made to find at least some way in
which progress can be made – possibly in the first instance
by the Railway Heritage Register project team.
There are many carriages other than British Railways
Mark 1 and Mark 2 vehicles in preservation within the UK.
Before considering their sustainability – and the ways in
which they can help the overall sustainability of the Her-
itage Railways – we need to note two key dates in British
railway history. These are 1 January 1923 and 1 January 1948.
On 1 January 1923, the then many small railways were
“grouped” into just four large Railways – the Great Western
Railway (GWR): the London, Midland & Scottish Railway
(LMS): the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER): and the
Southern Railway (SR). On 1 January 1948 these “Big Four”
railways were nationalised, to form the new “British Rail-
ways” (BR).
‘Classic’ carriage preservation: the “Big Four”
Let’s look at the time of the “Big Four” – that is between
1923 and the very end of 1947. Again, source material for the
carriage database allows a count of how many carriages
survive from this period. Again this is with good but, by the
nature of the question, not with absolute accuracy. Restric -
ting the search to complete carriages on their own wheels
the figures are as follows:
– Great Western: 99
– London, Midland & Scottish: 142
– London & North Eastern Railway: 222 (including the one
– Southern Railway: 138.
This totals 601 carriages a quite sizeable resource, of impor-
tance when considering “sustainability”.
Many of these 601 carriages are wooden-bodied or have
bodies with wooden frames: but almost all have steel
underframes and therefore potentially can be used as
carriages to actually work on Heritage Railways. Indeed
several already do, whether occasionally or in regular
service. Approaching possible major problems with the
Mark 1 fleets emphasise the importance of these 601
or so carriages as a major resource, and as one that is
available now.
These older carriages also can allow a significant im-
provement in the quality of the passenger experience, cer-
tainly by comparison with the utilitarian Mark 1s. This can
be of considerable help in sustaining the Railway, and con-
sequentially also the carriages in question. Those railways
that operate a mixture of Mark 1 and older carriages either
regularly or on special occasions will know that visitors
very much prefer to travel in the older carriages when avai -
lable. Examples of “Big Four” carriages in successful use in
this way include the LNER carriages on the North Yorkshire
Moors Railway: Southern Railway carriages on the Bluebell
Railway and elsewhere: and LMS carriages on the Severn
Valley Railway.
The perceived advantages of using these older carriages
are well illustrated by the West Somerset Railway. This is a
UK Heritage Railway that currently uses nothing but Mark
1 carriages. This Railway is however determined to improve
their offered visitor experience by gathering together a
working rake of GWR carriages. This is to the extent of
bringing one GWR carriage all the way home from Steam-
town, Scranton, in Pennsylvania, USA to form part of this
planned rake.
Spread over the 87 standard gauge railways these 601
carriages from the days of the “Big Four” is not a lot – but
it’s a useful contribution and certainly will help the sustain-
ability of the Heritage Railways using them, especially if
marketed appropriately. In so doing, it also helps the long-
term future of the carriages themselves. It would however
be very useful if exemplar carriages within this group could
be identified, with consideration given to their assured
long-term future as ‘Museum’ objects. Again, identification
can be much helped by the RHR Carriage Survey: and again
how then to proceed is a major challenge, hopefully for con-
sideration by the RHR Group and others.
‘Veteran ’ carriage preservation: the Pre-Grouping years
Considering now the earliest carriages – those built by the
many railways that operated before the January 1924
‘Grouping’ that produced the “Big Four” Railways. Prob-
lems intensify! The first problem is age. We’re now looking
at carriages that are at least 83 years old – most definitely
beyond the coachbuilder’s intended life expectancy. Inci-
dentally, most are (or were) 4 wheeled or 6-wheeled vehic -
les. Also, a great number are the proverbial “bodies in
fields” or are otherwise no longer complete. Many were
withdrawn from railway service many, many years ago and
then sold for use as farm stores, or chicken houses, or
holiday cottages – or as straightforward living accommoda-
tion. This does not stop them being an important historical
resource: but it certainly does not help easy restoration for
actual use on Heritage Railways!
At this time, not only the body but also the underframe
was made of wood. Modern requirements mean that putting
any carriage with a wooden underframe into regular service
on a Heritage Railway is quite a challenge. This has however
been done for a number of such vehicles – as has the alter-
native approach of restoring the body itself and putting it
on to a more recent steel chassis from another vehicle.
There are some excellent examples of wooden-bodied
wooden-framed vehicles from these early years in passen-
ger use on the Heritage Railways. However, for the great ma-
jority of carriages of this age it’s not realistic to rely on
restoration to actual use to ensure the survival of that par-
ticular carriage. Thus for carriages – or carriage remains –
of this age there is a need to take more of a “Museum”
approach when trying to establish whether or not a parti -
cular carriage (or carriage body, or remains of a carriage
body) is worthy of conservation.
Concerning numbers: this time, all known survivors are
included, whether intact or not. Note that most of these are
(or were) four or six wheeled vehicles: also that it is thought
that there is still a considerable number still hidden within
farmyards or within the structure of holiday homes etc.
The figures below do however represent the very best (and
possibly the only!) such information currently available:
Alexandra & Newport Docks: 1
Barry: 6
Bodmin & Wadebridge: 3
Caledonian: 3
Cambrian: 6
Central London: 2
City & South London: 3
Cowes & Newport: 2
East Coast Joint Stock: 7
Eastern Counties: 1
Glasgow & South Western: 3
Great Central: 11
Great Eastern: 76
Great North of Scotland: 23
Great Northern: 33
Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton: 1
Classic carriage of the 1923 – 1947 period
GWR (prior to 1924): 70
Highland: 7
Hull & Barnsley: 4
Isle of Wight: 7
Jersey: 1
Jersey Eastern: 3
Lancashire & Yorkshire: 13
Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast: 1
Liverpool Overhead: 2
London & Birmingham: 1
London & North Western: 50
London & South Western: 44
London, Brighton & South Coast: 26
London, Chatham & Dover: 28
London, Tilbury & Southend: 2
Manchester & Birmingham: 1
Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire: 8
Maryport & Carlisle: 1
Metropolitan: 11
Metropolitan District: 4
Midland: 40
Monmouthshire: 1
North British: 12
North Eastern: 43
North London: 11
North Staffordshire: 3
Pullman (various Railways): 20
Rhymney: 2
Ryde Pier: 1
Somerset & Dorset Joint: 3
South Eastern: 2
South Eastern & Chatham: 26
Stockton & Darlington: 3
Swansea Harbour: 1
Taff Vale: 8
Underground Electric: 2
War Department: 1
West Coast Joint Stock: 6.
This totals an impressive 668 carriages (or carriage rem-
nants) from a total of 56 railways, all at least 83 years old
and many much older than that. The 668 carriages and 56
railways in themselves are figures of no great importance –
what is of consequence are the wide range that these cover
and their overall historical importance. For many of these
pre-Grouping railways very little else survives!
Scope for restoring any carriage from this era to operat-
ing condition is limited. There is however a steadily increas-
ing but modest number of carriages which have indeed
been so restored, very usefully improving their long-term
future sustainability. This means that there is no obvious
“sustainability” route for the majority of carriages from
these years. This is particularly challenging because these
carriages represent a very significant resource as far as
engineering and social history is concerned. Again there is
a problem with identifying those of special importance, and
then doing something about it. “Doing something about it”
is the critical problem – for a start, just what? Full restora-
tion? In-depth measurement, lots of photos, detained
investigation to give a comprehensive dossier for the more
important items? Once again, these are matters deserving
serious consideration.
Possibly only a very few would wish to argue with the rail-
way carriage being the key location from which any visitor
to a Heritage Railway experiences that railway and gains a
feeling as to what rail travel in the past actually felt like.
British Railways Mark 1 railway carriages are widely used
by most of the UK Heritage Railways. Their future life is very
much tied up with the anticipated high cost of any fairly
fundamental rebuilding that may be needed in the rela-
tively near future. This will affect not only their future but
also that of the Heritage Railways themselves – ever-in-
creasing costs are the key factor here. There is a separate
need to identify and ensure the long-term conservation of
key examples of the Mark 1 carriage.
By comparison with the Mark 1 carriages, the sustaina -
bility of carriages from the years of the Grouping – 1923 to
1947 – is rather more assured. This is because increasingly
the Heritage Railways are becoming aware of the commer-
cial value of using coaches from this era. Restoring them to
running order means that they will be looked after to a very
much greater extent than would otherwise apply. This will
very much help towards assuring their long-term future.
The pre-Grouping carriages (and carriage remnants!) pro-
vide a different challenge. Restoration to operating condition
and so helping assure their future is not an option for the ma-
jority of these, by reason of age, construction and general con-
dition. They do however represent a major social and
engineering historical resource and deserve significant atten-
tion. Initially, this possibly could be by a rather more in-depth
individual survey and assessment than has been possible so
far. As for the other groups of carriages discussed above,
further consideration is needed: possibly in the first case by
the Heritage Railway Register or its component bodies.
1 The Railway Heritage Register on-line carriage database covers pas-
senger-rated vehicles across the entire British Isles and can be found
via www.vintagecarriagestrust.org This is a searchable database having
over 5,000 entries, most of which are complete with photographs. It is
well used, with currently some 800,000 pages downloaded annually.
My Country – Your Country
A pilot project is presently taking place at Post & Tele
Museum. With the museum’s extensive collection of Danish
and foreign stamps as a starting point we have created the
framework for Danes with an ethnic background other than
Danish to present the history of their native country through
the country’s stamps. As a part of the course the parti -
cipants can also choose among Danish stamps and let
them be the object of a dialogue. This has resulted in a true
culture meeting and it has given us new and surprising
perspectives of Danish stamps and of stamps as presenters
of culture.
With Feelings
“It brings tears to your eyes when you look at stamps from
your own country. You feel warm at heart.” a Jordanian
woman, who has been living in Denmark for 35 years, ex-
pressed. In the project the participants have had long and
interesting conversations about food, exotic fruits, camels,
traditions, clothing, Hans Christian Andersen, and much
more. Many words are spoken while experiences are ex-
changed. The stamps open the door to knowledge and un-
derstanding of Danish culture and history at the same time
as they offer the possibility of comparing the new country,
Denmark, with the country of birth and by means of the
stamps presenting the experience to oneself and others.
A woman from Pakistan, who has been living in Den-
mark for 28 years, tells us that as a child she heard many
Pakistani tales about kings and princesses. They were in
many ways similar to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy-tales.
She now wants to read some of the stories Hans Christian
Andersen has written for adults. Another woman mentions
that she likes to read Rasmus Klump [a children’s book
series] aloud to her daughter who then helps her under-
stand the meaning of the words.
The Ambassadors –
Stamps in the Service of Integration
Henrik Rem Rasmussen, Educational Officer, Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen
“National stamps are a picture gallery of a country’s pride. They depict miniatures of its famous
men, the great events in its history, its trades and industries, and its landmarks,” said Post master-
General Gunnar Pedersen in 1969.
A New, Difficult Language
The engagement and concentration are intense, and along
the way some training in Danish manages to sneak in when
the participants are writing texts for the stamps they have
selected. The pride in being able to contribute with personal
Danish stamp issued on the occasion of the Dannebrog’s
750th anniversary in 1969. Motif: Povl Christensen.
Engraver: Czeslaw Slania.
narratives and to realize that people are listening is loosen-
ing the tongue; “I came to Denmark from the South of
Lebanon in 1985. I want to talk a little about my country. I
was born in a small village about 100 km from Beirut. I have
a large family who is still living in Lebanon. On the stamp
you see the cedar tree in our flag. It is a symbol of strength
and eternal life. The red colour stands for sacrificing oneself
for one’s country and the white colour means peace. Alto-
gether they symbolize the power of Lebanon.”
A 20-year-old woman from Iraq writes: “I have chosen to
write about the red stamp because it is one of Iraq’s sources
of wealth. It is an oil well. I am also proud of the stamp
because it symbolizes one of the important things about my
country. The Iraqi flag has four fine colours: red, white,
black, and green. Our national motto is Allah Akbar, which
means ‘Allah is great’. We also have a national anthem
called Mawtini.”
Altogether, the participants’ contributions draw portraits
of different countries and leave the impression of the stamp
as a strong medium with much clout and a medium which
is remembered. The joy of meeting one’s native country
again is not to be mistaken; the ambassadors are doing
their job well.
Danish Stamps seen from the Outside
More than 1,500 stamps have been issued in Denmark since
1851. The participants can see them on the screen in front
of them. Skimming the motifs you have to agree with
Gunnar Pedersen’s statement. It is the monarchy, the boasts
of the country, the great men and the great events, trades,
industries, and landmarks that are primarily depicted on
the Danish stamps.
The participants in the project often ask why there are
never soldiers, war heroes, or political messages on Danish
stamps – and no living persons besides members of the
royal family. Is it same with stamps from other countries?
What sort of national self-knowledge can be brought to light
here? What should be noticed? Which or rather whose his-
tory and culture is accentuated? Danish history suddenly
becomes interesting in a whole new way.
Show me your country, and I’ll show you mine: Hammer-
shus is admired and compared with ruins from Lebanon.
When the Lebanese flag turns up, we can come up with the
story about the Danish flag that fell from the sky; another
small step on the road towards mutual cultural understand-
ing has been taken.
Integration Project
In the project “My Country – Your Country” the stamps
function as ambassadors in the service of integration. They
open the door to authentic narratives, and many eyes have
been filled with tears whilst participants have told about
Danish stamp issued in 1955 on the occasion of Denmark’s
existence as a kingdom for 1000 years. The ruins of
Hammershus. Motif: Viggo Bang. Engraver: Bent Jacobsen.
Lebanese stamp issued in 1989, the ruined town of Tyros.
It has not been possible to trace the artist or engraver of
the stamp.
experiences from their country of birth and from their child-
hood. We all recognize the feeling. Although stamps
are very different from one country to another, the result of
the project is a rewarding and unprejudiced meeting
among people.
My Country – Your Country: An integration project
at Post & Tele Museum
In 2008, My Country – Your Country was visited by Copen-
hagen elementary schools and linguistics schools with par-
ticipants from primarily Pakistan, Somalia, Turkey, Iran,
Palestine, and Afghanistan. In 2009, the project will be
turned into educational material that will, among other
things, contain a selection of the narratives of the partici-
pants. The project has obtained financial support from the
Vi Kbh’r Pool, a special pool under the Job Creation and In-
tegration Administration of Copenhagen Municipality in
support of integration projects.
Cancelled Iraqi stamp from 1947, oil wells. It has not been
possible to trace the artist or engraver of the stamp.
Lebanese stamp issued in 2003, The Lebanese Flag. It has been impossible to trace the artist and engraver of the stamp.
The program from the 2009 IATM Conference is included
here to demonstrate conclusively the breadth of topics
covered by the scholarly and practical contributions of
members and invited authorities. It is hoped that this
exposure will encourage members to attend future
conferences and to take advantage of the professional
development opportunities that they offer.
The program also demonstrates the wide range of tours
of relevant museums and heritage institutions organized for
participants by the conference hosts. The importance of
these opportunities to see in person how other organisa-
tions approach common museum challenges and to discuss
such issues informally in-situ cannot be over-emphasized.
Conference Programme
IATM Conference
JUNE – 19
JUNE 2009
»Transport and Communications Museums –
attractive offers to the public«
(subject to alterations)
The official language of the Conference will be English.
Friday, 12 June Pre-conference tour
Saturday, 13 June,
9 am – 5 pm 12 June: visit of Saxony’s beautiful capital, Dresden, and its surroundings:
the historic city of Meissen and the porcelain museum
9 am – 5 pm 13 June: trip to Saxon Switzerland, the fortress Königstein, Bastei and Pillnitz castle
and garden.
Guided tours will give you a vivid insight into the world-famous history as well as the
present-day art and culture as well as the attractions of the area. Meals on own account.
Sunday, 14 June Conference
Verkehrsmuseum (Transport Museum) Dresden
(Access via main entrance at Jüdenhof)
4 pm onwards Registration
Private view of the Verkehrsmuseum Dresden
6 pm – 9:30 pm Informal reception / get-together
Welcome address – Michael Dünnebier, IATM President / Director Verkehrsmuseum Dresden
Drinks and light buffet
Private view and guided tours of the Verkehrsmuseum Dresden
Monday, 15 June Hilton Dresden – conference room (only 2 minutes walk from the Verkehrsmuseum Dresden)
8:30 am – 9:00 am Registration
9:00 am – 9:20 am Official opening speeches
– Michael Dünnebier, IATM President
– Helma Orosz, Lord Mayor of the city of Dresden
IATM Conference
Dresden/Nuremberg – Germany
15 thJUNE – 19 JUNE 2009
“Transport and Communications Museums – attractive offers to the public”
The Verkehrsmuseum (Transport Museum) Dresden and the DB Museum (the museum of the Deutsche Bahn Group)
in Nuremberg have the pleasure and honour to invite you to the 2009 Conference of the International Association of
Transport and Communication Museums.
9:20 am – 10:30 am Keynote speeches
– Kilian Elsasser (CH): Anything goes? – Public programmes in transport museums –
Audience, artefacts and economics
– Lieselotte Kugler (DE): Communicative, innovative, professional – the “Museumsstiftung
Post und Telekommunikation” (Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunications)
10:30 am – 10:45 am Coffee break
10:45 am – 12:15 pm Presentations
– Harry Niemann (DE): Apotheosis of a brand
– Alastair Dodds (GB): Displaying the sience behind technology
– Stephen Quick (CAN): Presentation about refurbishing museums which display large artifacts
– John King (GB): Networking in aviation museums in England – The role of the British
Aviation Preservation Council
12:15 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch at Hilton Hotel
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Transportation to the Military Museum of the German Army
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm Tour to the Military Museum of the German Army
– Ferdinand von Richthofen: The redesigning of the Military Museum of the German Army
Tour of the construction works and new design, planned by architect Daniel Libeskind
and designer HG Merz
Tour of the special depot for heavyweight exhibits.
Afterwards there are excursions in two groups in accordance to the registration:
Group 1 This group will go to the Dresden airport for a short session of presentations on the history of
aviation and a tour of the test hall for aircraft equipment and the EADS factory as well as the
fuselage of the only East German turbine passenger aircraft “152”.
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Transfer from Military Museum to Dresden Airport
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Session at Dresden Airport – Conference room
– Michael Hupe (DE): A brief history of Dresden International Airport
– Thomas Fleischer (DE): Structural stability tests at IMA Dresden – a successor company
with roots back to Dresden’s airplane construction industry of the Fifties
incl. coffee break
4:15 pm- 6 pm Tour at the Dresden Airport area:
– Fuselage “152”
– IMA test hall
– EADS factory
6:00 pm Transfer to the Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe in Dresden
Group 2 This second group will see Radebeul Ost (East) station and the equipment of the Lößnitzgrund-
bahn, a steam-powered narrow-gauge railway. The group will take a short scenic steam train
ride from the town of Moritzburg to Radebeul.
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Transfer from Military Museum to Moritzburg Railway Station
4:03 pm – 4:30 pm Steam train ride with the narrow-gauge railways “Lößnitzgrundbahn” from Moritzburg
to Radebeul Ost
4:30 pm Coffee break at the Saxon Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
5:00 pm Tour at Radebeul Ost Station – open ground
Narrow-gauge railway collection
6:00 pm Transfer to the Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe in Dresden
Accompanying persons programme
Morning Time for shopping and sightseeing in downtown Dresden
11:30 am – 4:00 pm Trip to the baroque Moritzburg Castle
Guided tour of the castle, carriage ride
4:03 pm – 5:00 pm Meeting with delegates group 2/ same programme as group 2
For all participants: In the evening, all participants are invited to enjoy a dinner at the Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe in
Dresden hosted by the Saxon Economic Association in the presence of Stanislaw Tillich, the
Prime Minister of the federal state of Saxony
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe Dresden
Welcoming speech by Bodo Finger, President of the Saxon Economic Association
Address by Saxony’s federal state Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich
Dinner hosted by the Saxon Economic Association
Tuesday, 16 June On that day, a trip to various places of special interest in the Chemnitz area is offered to all con-
ference delegates and accompanying persons.
For the morning tour there are excursions in two groups in accordance to the registration:
Group 1
8:00 am – 9:00 am Transportation to Chemnitz by bus
9:00 am – 10:15 am Presentation and guided tour at the Saxon Railway Museum in Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf
– Holger Drosdeck (DE): The Saxon Railway Museum – The story of a museum project
10:15 am – 10:45 am Transfer within Chemnitz
10:45 am – 11:30 am Time to look around at the small local Tramway Museum and coffee break
11:30 am – 12:00 pm Short trip on a historic tramway
Bus transfer to the Saxon Museum of Industry
Group 2
8:00 am – 09:30 am Transportation by bus to Augustusburg Castle in the Ore Mountain region
9:30 am – 11:30 am Visit of the Augustusburg Castle and tour of the famous carriage and motorbike collections;
coffee break
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Transportation by bus to Chemnitz
12:30 pm The groups will join together again at the Saxon Museum of Industry.
Photo with all participants
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch
1:30 pm – 2:45 pm Presentations
– Jörg Feldkamp, Head of the Saxon Museum of Industry: Welcoming
– Dirk Schmerschneider (DE): The heart of the Saxon motor industry beats in Chemnitz
– John Radcliffe (AUS): Doubling the Christchurch City Tramway’s length and daily
services using museum cars and principles
– Andreas Kaluza (DE): Factor emotion – exhibit presentation in the media era
2:45 pm – 4:15 pm Guided tours and private view of the Saxon Museum of Industry and coffee break
Accompanying persons programme
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm Walk to the Gunzenhauser Museum, a museum and art gallery located in Chemnitz.
For all participants
4:15 pm – 5:45 pm Transportation by bus from Chemnitz to Dresden
5:45 pm – 6:30 pm Time for refreshments
7:00 pm Meeting point at Museum of Transport Dresden: Walk to the paddle steamer station
7:30 pm – 10:30 pm Steamboat cruise on Elbe River from Dresden to Pillnitz Castle with a presentation aboard
by Michael Lohnherr, the head of the steamboat company:
“The largest and oldest paddlesteamer fleet of the world in Dresden – a modern and
successful company”
Dinner aboard (on own account)
Wednesday, 17 June
8:00 am – 12:30 pm Transportation from Dresden to Nuremberg by train with catering aboard
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm Check-in at hotels and time for refreshments
2:00 pm – 4.30 pm DB Museum (the museum of the Deutsche Bahn Group)
and Nuremberg Communication Museum
Welcome speech – Juergen Franzke, Director of the DB Museum
Guided tours of the DB Museum and the Nuremberg Communication Museum
Presentation of the steam locomotive “Adler” with possibility for a short ride
and coffee break
4:30 pm – 6.00 pm Walk trough the mediaeval city of Nuremberg
7:00 pm onwards IATM Annual Dinner at the DB Museum
“Fränkisches Buffet” (a buffet featuring Franconian specialties)
Thursday, 18 June All-day excursion for all participants to Munich to the Deutsches Museum –
Verkehrszentrum (Transport Centre) and main building – and the BMW Museum
8:00 am – 9:00 am Transfer by ICE train from Nuremberg to Munich
9:00 am – 9:30 am Transfer from the main station to the Verkehrszentrum of the Deutsches Museum.
9:30 – 12:00 pm Visit of the completely redesigned Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum,
a branch museum of the Deutsches Museum with focus on transport and mobility.
– Sylvia Hladky: The Concept of the Verkehrszentrum: Museum and Forum
for Transport and Mobility
– Dr. Bettina Gundler: Collections and Exhibitions of the Deutsches Museum
in the Field of Transport
Guides Tours through the exhibitions by Sylvia Hladky and Dr. Bettina Gundler
12.00 pm – 1.00 pm Lunch
After lunch there are excursions in two groups in accordance to the registration:
Group 1 Visit of the all-new BMW Museum
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Transfer to BMW Museum
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm Guided tours and private view of the BMW Museum and coffee break
Group 2 Visit of the communications, aviation and maritime departments at the main building
of the Deutsches Museum
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Transfer to the main building of the Deutsches Museum
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm Guided tours and private view of the Deutsches Museum and coffee break
All participants
4:30 pm Return to Nuremberg
7:30 pm onwards Dinner with traditional Nuremberg Bratwurst (grilled sausage).
Dinner on own account
Friday, 19 June
8:30 am – 9:30 am IATM General Assembly 2009
Reports of the President and the IATM board
Election of the IATM board
Associated business
9:30 am – 10:30 am Presentations – Session 1
– Stefan Kley (DE): A new permanent exhibition for the Nuremberg Communication Museum
Sarah Jane Brazil (AUS): Bringing the past forward
– Karl Lorentz Kleve (NO): How aviation changed the Holiday – The dream of the South
10:30 am – 10:45 am Coffee break
10:45 am – 12:00 am Presentations – Session 2
– Stefan Glaser (DE): Mercedes-Benz Museum – experience the history
– Achim Stejskal (DE): The new Porsche Museum
– Ralf Rodepeter (DE): The Conception of the new BMW Museum
12:00 am – 12:45 am Message of greetings and reception of Ulrich Maly, Lord Mayor of the city of Nuremberg
12:45 pm – 1:00 pm Conclusion of the IATM Conference
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch
Afternoon Guided tour to the documentation centre on the former Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Alternative: Guided tour to the Museum of Industrial Culture – Nuremberg (with Matthias
Murko, Head of the museum)
(additional offers on own account)
Accompanied Time for shopping and sightseeing in downtown Nuremberg
persons programme Join together with the delegates at 1:00 pm for lunch.
Post-conference tour to Stuttgart and Sinsheim
Friday, 19 June
3:41 pm onwards Train transfer (IC 2064)from Nuremberg to Stuttgart
Arrival 5:53 pm
Saturday, 20 June Stuttgart
Morning The new Porsche Museum
Guided tours and private view
Small lunch, hosted by Porsche
Transfer from Porsche Museum to Mercedes-Benz Museum with a short guided Stuttgart
sightseeing tour
Afternoon The new Mercedes-Benz Museum
Guided tours and private view
Evening Farewell dinner at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, hosted by the museum
Sunday, 21 June Trip to Sinsheim
Transfer from Stuttgart to Sinsheim
Car & Techniques Museum in Sinsheim
Guided tours and private view
Lunch (on own account)
Transfer from Sinsheim to Stuttgart
3:00 pm Arrival in Stuttgart
End of the post-conference tour
Created Date6/29/2009 6:49:33 PM