Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection. Photo credit: New-York Historical Society
Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection
On View November 22, 2022 – February 26, 2023
The New-York Historical Society welcomes back the annual wintertime tradition for kids of all ages, Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection, along with an array of train-themed family programs. In addition to the return of fan favorite toy trains like the Blue Comet express train, this year’s display—on view through February 26, 2023—explores energy and machinery, featuring miniature windmills, waterwheels, engines, and powerhouses. Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Acquired by New-York Historical in 2014, the Jerni Collection epitomizes a golden age of toy manufacture and transportation. Fun and educational, the tiny cotton mill, sawmill, machines, cranes, and lifts on display taught children from previous generations about new technologies and their energy sources—water, wind, steam, coal, and electricity—that powered real-life equipment. Viewing these miniatures today also reminds visitors about the scarcity of the planet’s natural resources and the dire need to conserve them.
Highlights include a model windmill from the turn of the 20th century and a toy steam engine created by the German company Gebrüder Bing. Developed in England around 1700, steam engines became the primary energy source for driving train locomotives. Although most toy manufacturers were powered by steam engines by the mid-19th century, they did not produce steam engine toys until many years later.
Family Programs and Private Tours
Holiday and train-themed family programs take place in person and sometimes via Zoom throughout the exhibition’s run, including Little New-Yorkers and Sunday Story Time. A special Holiday Express edition of the “I Spy” Family Guide is available at the Museum for families to explore the exhibition together. December 4 is Sunday Family Funday, featuring train-themed story time and crafts, and on December 11, historical interpreters will share fascinating facts about winter traditions in 18th-century America. Later in the month during December School Vacation Week (Tuesday, December 27 – Friday, December 30), story time and train crafts are available for young visitors. For details, visit the DiMenna Children’s History Family Calendar.
Group tours of Holiday Express are available for booking, allowing private groups to explore the exhibition with a Museum docent. Private tours make a unique holiday gift for train lovers.
About the Jerni Collection
Since its acquisition by the New-York Historical Society in 2014, the Jerni Collection has become a highlight of the Museum’s holdings. Assembled over the course of five decades by U.S. collectors Jerry and Nina Greene, the Jerni Collection is considered one of the world’s leading collections of antique model trains and toys. It includes unique, handcrafted, and hand-painted pieces dating from approximately 1850 to 1940, and features prime examples by the leading manufacturers that set the standard for the Golden Age of Toy Trains, including the German firms of Märklin and Bing, as well as the American firms Lionel and Ives.
Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection was coordinated by Debra Schmidt Bach, curator of decorative arts. Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.
About New-York Historical Society
Experience 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibitions, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations among renowned historians and public figures at the New-York Historical Society, New York’s first museum. A great destination for history since 1804, the Museum and the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library convey the stories of the city and nation’s diverse populations, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we came to be. Ever-rising to the challenge of bringing little or unknown histories to light, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help forge the future by documenting the past join New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Center for Women’s History. Digital exhibitions, apps, and our For the Ages podcast make it possible for visitors everywhere to dive more deeply into history. Connect with us at nyhistory.org or at @nyhistory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies has sponsored the annual Holiday Express exhibition at the New-York Historical Society since 2014. Bloomberg Philanthropies works to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people by focusing on five key areas: arts, education, environment, government innovation, and public health. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.