Art museum will roll into Taneytown in September 1999 Artrain, on five rail cars, to feature 60 works that depict 'Artistry of Space'


A trainload of art depicting the exploration of space, including works from the Smithsonian Institution, is scheduled to roll into Taneytown in September 1999.

City officials are preparing to sign a contract to sponsor four-day visit from Artrain, a Michigan-based nonprofit art museum housed in five railroad cars.

The train has visited 550 communities in 42 states and Washington in 28 years of operation. Many of its stops are in rural areas where residents do not have access to art museums.

"This is quite an open door for us as far as visibility in the state of Maryland," said Nancy McCormick, Taneytown's economic development coordinator, who has arranged the Artrain visit.

McCormick, a former Michigan resident who knew of the Michigan Council of the Arts' traveling train, began working last year to get the train to visit Taneytown. She got the nod last month.

"The program director called and said, 'Gettysburg wants it, but I want you to have the first shot,' " she said. "I said, 'I'll take it.' "

Taneytown has pledged $7,000 to cover expenses for the visit. McCormick said she plans to ask businesses to donate services. Two Westminster motels have offered to donate lodging, and Maryland Midland Railway Co. promised a locomotive to haul the train.

Artrain has three museum cars, an art demonstration and gift shop car and a caboose/office car, but depends on local railroads for transportation.

"You can have any place on our track you want," Paul D. Denton, president of Maryland Midland, assured McCormick at a Taneytown Economic Development Commission meeting yesterday.

The exhibit in Taneytown will consist of about 60 works from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's fine art program and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum collection. The exhibit, titled "Artistry of Space," is to travel on the train from next year through 2001.

Debra Polich, president of Artrain, said details of the planned exhibit will be announced in October. The exhibit will start in Washington next July, but its route has not been mapped, she said.

Artrain's original mission was "to tour towns in Michigan that didn't have access to visual arts programs," Polich said. The train museum was so popular that it was extended to other states. Along the way, Artrain officials encouraged communities to form sponsoring arts organizations, so the train has "a tremendous legacy" of arts groups, she said.

Artrain last visited Maryland in 1993, when it made stops in Aberdeen and Cumberland.

Aberdeen, which also was host to Artrain in 1992, benefited in two ways from the museum's visit, said Charles H. "Chuck" Jacobs Jr., chairman of its sponsoring committee.

"No. 1, [the publicity that] something is happening in Aberdeen, and the cultural experience for the kids," he said.

Jacobs said coordination with schools was a key factor in the cultural experience for children. The train was parked downtown, which allowed classes to walk to the museum. Students returned with their parents on weekends, he said.

Pub Date: 7/15/98

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