Benjamin-Riley-1024x683The traditional holiday train display returns to the Monmouth Museum, in tandem with an ‘All Aboard’ photo display of railroad landscapes. (Photo by Benjamin Riley)

Holiday traditions come and go, but when a longstanding local signifier of the season threatens to drop out of sight, it can upset the equilibrium of community life.

Happily, the annual Model Train Display has returned to the Monmouth Museum right on schedule for the season — complete with new trains and a fully updated network of track — and it’s joined by an exhibit that celebrates the role of the railroad in the development of the United States, as well as the train whistle’s continued siren-call to generations of American artists.

Entitled All Aboard! Railroads and the Historic Landscapes They Travel, the installation in the Museum’s main gallery features the work of eight renowned photographers, including David Plowden, Jim Shaughnessy (both on loan from The Center for Railroad Photography and Art), Ron Wright, Mel Patrick, Scott Lothes, John Sanderson, Travis Dewitz — and guest curator Michael Froio, who visits the Museum this Friday, December 12, for a 7 pm Gallery Talk on the collected images and the transformative power of train and track.

Vintage travel and advertising posters (on loan from the private collection of Bennett Levin) are also on view during the exhibit, which remains on display during regular museum hours (Tuesday-Thursday 10 am-5 pm; Friday 10 am-9 pm; Saturday 10 am-5 pm; Sunday 12-5 pm). Admission during regular hours is $7.00 per person; free with valid student or staff ID from Brookdale Community College.

There’s more to see this season at the museum, including the annual holiday tree, decorated (by the Friends of Monmouth Museum) with train and railroad memorabilia. The Holiday Gift Gallery is also in full swing, with jewelry, artworks, books, ceramics and more offered for sale during Museum hours through January 11, 2015 (closed on December 24-25 and January 1).