Artifacts Sought for Grand Central Terminal Centennial Exhibition

NEW YORK — MTA Metro-North Railroad and the New York Transit Museum are looking for objects related to Grand Central Terminal for an exhibit commemorating the centennial of this landmark building.

On February 1, 2013, 100 years after the Terminal officially opened, a major exhibition on the history of Grand Central will open in Vanderbilt Hall, the former Main Waiting Room, which once had bench seating for 700 long-distance travelers.

The museum and the railroad are seeking donations for this exhibit and for its permanent collection. Loans also will be considered.

“We know that railroad fans and history buffs have some unique collections that may have had interesting origins,” said Howard Permut, President of Metro-North. “But we are grateful to the stewards of our history and recognize that many of these vintage items were literally rescued from trash bins as one railroad failed and another took over.”

Metro-North, the current operator of Grand Central, came into being Jan. 1, 1983 from the bankrupt remnants of the passenger division of Conrail, which was itself an amalgam of Penn Central and the New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and so on back to the 1800s.

Large-scale objects, three-dimensional artifacts, such as uniforms, caps, badges, ashtrays, coat hooks, clocks, baggage carts and “gate curtains” with old train names are especially needed.

Still photos and moving images also are being sought as is ephemera such as tickets, timetables, menus and matchbooks from Terminal tenants. Flyers and advertisements for events held in the Terminal, such as galas, political events, USO entertainers, exhibits, movies, etc. also are welcome.

Basically anything that says “Grand Central” will be considered or any New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail or Metro-North memorabilia that is directly related to Grand Central. The Museum is NOT looking for general railroad memorabilia. Items must be specific to Grand Central Terminal.

Potential donors should send a digital photo and a brief description of the object, including the dimensions, current location, along with the provenance to the extent it is known, to Archivist Carey Stumm at carey.stumm@nyct.com.

Museum curators will review and respond to all offerings of donations and loans. Items for loan will be returned according to a standard contract and donors will be acknowledged in the exhibit.

“We hope that this request for artifacts will encourage private collectors from across the nation to share their treasures with the world during our centennial celebration,” Permut added. “The railroad and all who love Grand Central would be most appreciative.”