The Value of a Long-Term Partnership: The Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum

Nearly 200 years ago, a small, rural Ohio community found itself in the crosshairs of the Industrial Revolution. Bradford, Ohio, a village of just a few hundred residents, at the time, became an integral part of American industry when a rail line was built through the town. That line remained for nearly 150 years before it was removed in the 1980s. While it has now been gone for decades, the railroad’s memory continues to serve as a cornerstone for those that live there.

Almost 20 years after the last rail car rolled through town, the Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum opened in 2002 to commemorate the railroad’s lasting legacy in the community.

What started as an idea to preserve the railroad’s history became a reality when the museum partnered with Exhibit Concepts, Inc. Since that partnership was formed, the museum has been awarded the Ohio Museum Association’s Award of Achievement for the best exhibit under $500,000 in both 2017 and 2020.

The museum founder worked together with Exhibit Concepts over the last nearly 15 years to curate and create displays on a budget that educate community members and visitors on the deeply rooted history.

“The value of a long-term partnership with Exhibit Concepts is that they understand our mission, they understand our budget, and they understand our capabilities. We couldn’t have gotten to where we are without them. They were able to take our concepts, put them in short, little snippets that people could understand, that was both educational and interesting. They took our artifacts, and the one thing they taught me is that you just don’t display things; you have to put things in some kind of meaningful exhibit. And they were able to do that for us.” 

In recent years, the museum has extended its partnership with Exhibit Concepts, adding to its layout and footprint in the city. They refurbished a switching tower listed on the National Register of Historic Places and unveiled a special exhibit highlighting the life of hobos in the rail era. The additions involved interpretive planning, which brought the displays to life.

Now, as the village of Bradford looks to the future, their past will forever be remembered for generations to come thanks to the work at the Bradford Railroad Museum.

To check out the project, or Exhibit Concepts’ other work for yourself, click here. Or connect with Exhibit Concepts to find out how you can make your next project a reality. 


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