Temporary Exhibits

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Temporary Exhibits

Rotating exhibits are showcased on the second floor in the Temporary Exhibit Gallery. Entry is included in regular admission charges.

Current Exhibit

November 7, 2105 – January 16, 2016
Mail Call

V-Mail is speed mail

Courtesy National Archives

The traveling version of the National Postal Museum’s permanent exhibition, Mail Call explores the history of America’s military postal system, and examines how even in today’s era of instant communication, troops overseas continue to treasure mail delivered from home. Organized and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the exhibition tells the fascinating story of military mail and communication—from the American Revolution to recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This exhibit, currently on a 14-city national tour, will be on display in Temple from November 7, 2015 through January 16, 2016.

“This exhibit connects with our community in so many ways. We have a long history of military families here in our central Texas community who have relied on military mail to connect them with their loved ones abroad,” said Museum Director, Stephanie Long. “Temple also has a rich railroading history, which played an important role in the delivery of mail for many decades.”


Courtesy National Archives

On the battlefront and at home, mail has long sustained the vital connections between military service members and their family and friends. From the earliest handwritten letters that took days or even months to deliver, to today’s instant communication via email or the Internet, Mail Call presents the changing look and format of mail pieces through the decades. With compelling documents, photographs, illustrations and audio stations, this exhibit celebrates the importance of correspondence. Visitors can discover how military mail communication has changed throughout history, learn about the armed forces postal system, and experience military mail through interesting objects and correspondence, both written and recorded on audiotape. The exhibit offers an appreciation of the importance of military mail and the hard work and complex systems that have gone into connecting service men and women to their government, community and loved ones at home.

“Mail has always played a very important role in the lives of the men and women of our armed forces and their families at home,” said Exhibit Curator, Lynn Heidelbaugh of the National Postal Museum. “Writing and receiving correspondence has a significant power to shape morale. The relationship between mail and morale is expressed time and again in messages from deployed military personnel, and it is a compelling reason behind the extraordinary efforts to maintain timely mail service.”


Past Exhibits

September 5 – October 31, 2015
Kings of the River: Steamboat Transportation in the American South

The J.M. White steamboat, ca. 1880, Photograph by Henry Norman, Tom and Joan Gandy Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

The J.M. White steamboat, ca. 1880,
Photograph by Henry Norman, Tom and Joan Gandy Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Kings of the River celebrates the grandeur of the great steamboats that moved passengers and commerce on American rivers in the late 19th century. On loan from the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, the exhibit will be on display until Saturday, October 31st.

Kings of the River showcases images of historic riverboats by Henry Norman, a photographer who worked in Natchez, Mississippi from 1870 until his death in 1913. Norman’s camera documented daily life in the historic river port town of Natchez. His photographs provide a remarkable visual record of the great paddlewheel steamboats, including images of their crews, passengers, and luxurious interiors.

“After the Civil War, the railroads were expanding quickly, but riverboats were still an important part of the American transportation system,” said Museum Director, Stephanie Long. “Throughout the South, people depended on steamboats and cotton gins to keep the economy moving, especially along the lower Mississippi River.”

Kings of the River can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Kings of the River is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum.


June 6 – August 26, 2015
Trains that Passed in the Night: The Photographs of O. Winston Link

Hot Shot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956

Hot Shot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956

Trains that Passed in the Night showcases 36 original prints from famed photographer O. Winston Link (1914-2011), who documented the end of the steam era on American railroads. Link’s photographs depict the final years of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway, the last major railroad in America to operate exclusively with steam power. These photographs are regarded as one of the best and most beautiful records of this long-vanished technology.

Showing the trains as part of everyday life in communities through which they traveled, Link’s photos appeal to a broad audience. In fact, the emphasis in Link’s photographs is often placed more directly on the towns and people along the tracks than on the locomotives and trains themselves. Taken between 1955 and 1960, Link’s railroad images offer a unique glimpse into the small-towns that relied on the railroads in the middle of the 20th century.

Trains That Passed in the Night can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple. For more information about exhibits, museum hours, and admission, please visit www.rrhm.org or call 254.298.5172. “Trains that Passed in the Night: The Photographs of O. Winston Link” is organized by Thomas H. Garver and produced in collaboration with the Center for Railroad Photography & Art (www.railphoto-art.org).

March 17 – May 23, 2015
Temple Collects

templeCollectsImagePSAre you a collector? Come down to the museum to see some of the things that people in the Temple area collect. Opening Tuesday, March 17, Temple Collects showcases some amazing private collections from citizens of the Temple area. Temple collectors have loaned some of their favorite items to the museum to share their interests and passions.

Visitors will see a variety of objects, including vintage radios, pharmaceutical antiques, science fiction creations, railroadiana, Temple business history artifacts, and Niagara Falls memorabilia. A private collection from Duward Howard that is now part of the museum’s collection will also be on display, highlighting some of the history of the Temple High School Band.

Stop by March 17 through May 23 to see some of the interesting things that Temple collects!

September 20, 2014 – January 31, 2015
America’s Road: The Journey of Route 66

Route 66This fall, Route 66 will make a detour to Temple’s Railroad & Heritage Museum. A special traveling exhibit experience titled America’s Road: The Journey of Route 66 will be on display at the museum from September 20th – December 31st. The exhibit brings the shared history of Route 66 into the museum gallery and showcases the people, places and events made famous along the route from 1926 until today. Visitors get a “then and now” look at landmarks along the highway, a chance to guess the musicians who “got their kicks” on Route 66, and a drive-in movie experience.

Rt66Exhibit“We want our temporary exhibits to explore aspects of our heritage that we don’t get a chance to discuss in our permanent exhibits. The opening of a national highway system is a major part of our country’s transportation story in the 20th century, and this exhibit gives us a chance to expand the story that we tell at the museum,” said Museum Curator, Angela McCleaf.

Route 66 is emblematic of the American experience. The highway stretches 2,448 miles and crosses through eight states, tracing the migration of people from the Midwest to the Pacific coast. Thousands of people from around the country and around the world drive all or portions of the Route each year. Nearly a hundred years of highway culture can be found, whether a thriving relic or decaying ruin. Almost every aspect of 20th century US history is reflected in the stories from the people and events along the Mother Road.

In addition to the exhibit, an Opening Night Gala Event will be held on Friday, September 19, at 6:00 p.m. featuring an evening of nostalgia, food, entertainment and a look back on the rich history that was “The Main Street of America”. Gala event tickets are available for $30 for museum members and $40 for non-members.

We are extremely grateful to our generous sponsors for this exhibit:

Gold Sponsor: McLane Group

Silver Sponsors: Weldon G. Cannon and Patricia Benoit, Thomas Hoback, Anonymous

Bronze Sponsor: Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society


June 10 – August 2, 2014
Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy

Photograph by Bill Wittliff, 1971.

Photograph by Bill Wittliff, 1971

In the early 1970s,noted Texas historian Joe Frantz offered Bill Wittliff a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—to visit a ranch in northern Mexico where the vaqueros still worked cattle in traditional ways. Wittliff photographed the vaqueros as they went about daily chores that had changed little since the first Mexican cowherders learned to work cattle from a horse’s back. Wittliff captured a way of life that now exists only in memory and in the photographs included in this exhibition.

Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy features photographs with bilingual narrative text that reveal the muscle, sweat, and drama that went into roping a calf in thick brush or breaking a wild horse in the saddle. This exhibition is available in wall-hanging and abridged freestanding versions. The exhibition was created by the Wittliff Collections at the Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos, presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities.Vaquero is made possible in part by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A related display “By Hoof and By Rail” will be shown with the Vaquero exhibit, detailing the ways that the railroads impacted the ranching industry and responded to the active livestock trade moving over their tracks.

April 5 – August 2, 2014
Hell on Wheels: Union Pacific Railroad Towns in Wyoming

“Hell on Wheels: Union Pacific Railroad Towns in Wyoming” opens Saturday April 5, 2014 and will be on display until August 2nd. During the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, end-of-track towns appeared and disappeared as the tracks moved west. Surveying and grading teams and later tracklaying teams, established temporary supply and construction camps along the rail route. Tent cities, consisting of canvas and wood structures, sprang up around the work camps to supply services for the workers. Saloons, dance halls, brothels, stores, and gambling houses were common. End-of-track towns were known for wild behavior, riots, and crime, earning the towns the name “Hell on Wheels.” The exhibit is on loan from the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.


Check this page frequently for updates on upcoming temporary exhibitions.