La Cité du Train
The arrangement, which was the result of many years of work, was presented by Jean-Marc Combe, former curator of the museum, as a space that combined knowledge and enjoyment. It was a bold gamble for this collection like no other.
of a rebirth
From the mezzanine, you could see a crowd pressing around the podium set up behind the 232 U 1 on that day in April 2005. The work, which was described in the press release as the “history of a rebirth”, was exceptionally supported by the DRAC Alsace, the regional council, the departmental council of the Haut-Rhin and the city of Mulhouse. Initiated by SNCF and the museum, the project had a total budget of €8.6 million, and measured up to the collections. For the stakeholders of that Titanesque enterprise, the aim was to demonstrate the status of the museum as a major player in the culture of the railways and of Alsace.
A BB in the
2007, an important
year for the railway
2010, a tram-train
right up to the museum
In 2011, after four years of work and uncountable manoeuvres, the Quais de l’Histoire were finally inaugurated. Most of the incandescent lamps were replaced by LEDs, which consume less electricity, and help highlight the machines on display. Access ramps for persons with reduced mobility were also installed. The building became more educational and more accessible, yet held on to its identity. If they look up, visitors can still admire the iconic structure of this architectural complex designed by Pierre-Yves Schoen.
The Panorama Ferroviaire
France 3 Alsace was of course there to witness the event, offering an opportunity to go behind the scenes in the video opposite.
The TGV enters
One of the most remarkable is the development of Y Experience days when small groups can discover train driving at the controls of a shunting locomotive. And in the past seven years, the restoration and operation of the Sambaldur-sur-Mou roundabout that came straight from Perpignan. This relic of the history of fairs was in operation from 1948 to 2007 and was purchased in 2014 by the museum and reassembled in the Panorama Ferroviaire. With its recognisable pastel colours and the sound of its Ford T engine, this roundabout had “brought much enjoyment to the young and older tourists of Canet-en-Rousillon and Argelès-sur-Mer”, according to its donor, Chantal Bey, grand-daughter of its creator Zilda Clément. Today, it continues to delight visitors to the Cité du Train.
in the museum
One event may
While trains are important, everybody is delighted by the details of this world in itself, halfway between reality and imagination. With a bustling fair, a pumpkin patch, a mysterious castle and a football pitch where miniature players bump into a group of monks, this creation is technical, yet tells stories. Outside the Quais de l’Histoire, the Mini Express of Alsace, imagined in 2014, continues to go round. If it is raining, the little rubber-tyred train, a favourite character of the museum, is always ready for you.
The Train of
Setting the stage
for high-speed trains
There are 50 years of promotional posters. From the gouache by Albert Brenet to the screen prints of the Mulhouse group 2920g, each period has its own style and vision of the collections. Trains appear as geometrical shapes or sketches, but always an inexhaustible source of inspiration. The 50 years poster, created by the firms Landor & Fitch and Vuxe, shows the Buddicom, the oldest locomotive in the museum and generally in Europe. The figure of Michel Doerr, the founder of the museum can be recognised easily. Looking in the distance or in the future, he possibly might not have thought that five decades later, the museum would celebrate its heritage and railways adventure, which was only beginning.
The display of the orange TGV in the new museum space is thus a symbol. But as Michel Doerr said in the second part of the video, railways are more than machines. He believed that “when one is steeped in humanism, the human element that is represented by the tradition of the railwayman’s trade [is very much part of the story]”. The French Railways Museum already has a past, a present and undoubtedly a future, bearing a whole section of the individual and collective memory of the railways.