Otto Vondrak wrote:Okay, wait, I thought some more and I am upset about one thing. As museums, as preservationists, we have got to get off this rant that "railfans don't pay the bills." It may be that the railroad enthusiast audience is indeed a small portion of the receipts, but does that mean we have do ignore them altogether? Piss them off? Spit in their face? I've been on both sides of the rope that says "NO PUBLIC ACCESS." I'm quite aware that there are a large number of railfans that only grouse and complain. There are a quite many more who are also your biggest supporters. And they encourage their friends and families to visit and patronize your museums.
Why don't we focus on the very good things going on here? An Alco has been saved for preservation, it has been moved to friendly confines, and it will wear a coat of paint so that it is representative of a typical New Haven unit of the same class. You know what's funny about paint? It doesn't last forever.
Maybe I should have quantified "railfan". Everyone in railway preservation is a railfan. That is not the point. The point is the non-preservation minded "people" who only want to watch, take photos, count cars, measure equipment, count rivets and model who don't support any preservation movement in any capacity, but feel empowered to add their "suggestions" to the debate as if their opinions are the only ones.
I have seen people wander in, look around, and then ask questions about why you didn't restore such and such to this and that. Or when old smokey will be pulling cars on the Shoreline. Yes, we've tried "edu-ma-cation" and tried to be nice & explain how the real preservation world works. But after 38 years in the biz, it is not worth the time or mass equivalents to respond in a other than completely civil and standoffish manner.
The only time I would think to kick someone off the property would be as AMTK, MNCR and the Department of Homeland Insecurity does - taking photos from a non-public area - i.e. the right of way or does something foolish in the public spaces of the railroad.
That is my definition of a railfan.
As for preservation issues of the Alco - there is nothing wrong with painting it New Haven as long as the original fabric of the locomotive is not destroyed or is reversible with no damage done. Paint? Unless it was original ALCO factory paint - no problems. To my mind it will be how to explain to the general public up front that this is a replica - not an original.
Let's, for argument sake say some artist took an Elvis-on-velvet painting and did a masterful job turning it into the Mona Lisa, where, the general public would not be able to tell the difference. Would someone want to see that Mona Lisa in the Clark Museum in North Adams, perhaps, but unless the painting says REPLICA, they will laugh the museum out of existence once the actual pedigree is known. There is no difference between the New Haven/Alco and the Elvis/Mona, they both leave room for misinterpretation.
Now, if the plans are to paint the Alco New Haven is because the BSRM wants to appease their own desires, then we have a problem, Houston. Hopefully, this is just part of the learning curve of how far railway museums have to go before adopting proper museum standards.
Yes, the preservation movement in this country is a unique subset of "museum" culture. The reputations of most are not much more than that of a backyard collection of stuff subject to the whimseys of the who has the loudest voice, biggest checkbook or grandiose scheme. There are fine examples of just the opposite starting with Steamtown. Notice that the operating steam locomotives have NOT been painted DL&W and other that #26 are not indigenous to the US for that matter.
Then you can start looking at the UK, Germany, Poland, India, Japan and how they approach the subject of disguises or replication. Outside of the A-1 pacific being constructed in the UK - they are what they are, lettered for what they were (and the A-1 will be properly lettered for its railway).
I think the general public will have no problems accepting a cogent explanation of what/where/why this locomotive is being presented as original. I think the problem lies with the "railfan" community who wants to see a paint scheme on an artifact which never had it just because they like that railroad.
Perhaps that is what model railroading is for.....