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National Railroad Museum hopes to open $15 million expansion by 2025 NFL Draft

Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 08, 2024

ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — The National Railroad Museum announced this week that it is near its goal of $15 million for its Fox River Expansion project, the first phase of its Full Steam Ahead improvement campaign.

  • The project will add 25,000 square feet to the facility, including four more display tracks and a mezzanine overlooking the Fox River
  • Museum CEO Jacqueline Frank said groundbreaking on the project is slated for between April and August
  • The museum may expand weekday evening hours in the summer following the expansion to accommodate seasonal visitors
  • The museum also plans to make its Festival of Trees event invitation-only, with some parameters about what may be displayed
  • Video shows renderings and aerial views of the museum's expansion

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The National Railroad Museum here in Ashwaubenon is finally ready to begin an expansion that's been eight years in the making. The museum is showing us what the expansion will look like — and the funding it still needs.

The $15 million expansion will open the museum up to the outdoors — allowing people to see the Fox River from the exhibit area.

"We are knocking out our back wall and extending it towards the river," CEO Jacqueline Frank said. "And we've already done a lot of work on our riverfront. And we're kind of joining the outdoors and the indoors."

Frank and the museum announced this week they have raised most of the $15 million dollars it needs.

"Our funding is coming from three different places," Frank said. "We're looking at corporations, we're looking at individuals, and then also from the state of Wisconsin, too."

Frank says the project still needs another $2 million from private donations.

She says that will allow the museum to double its educational space and expand the hours that it offers private events.

"The way we're structured, right now, we're fighting for space all the time," Frank said. "There might be an overnight education program we want to have, [but] there's also a wedding or there's some other community event that all want the same space."

The plans also call for four more train tracks and cars inside the new exhibit space.

The museum may expand its hours on summer evenings after the expansion.

And the museum says ticket prices should remain family-friendly because more private events should fund the operating costs.

Some events — like the Festival of Trees -- will become invitation-only.

"We were really looking at using the new space to enhance new or enhance existing events," Frank said.

Frank says the project is on a tight timeline: if all goes well, the plan is to break ground in April and be complete for the NFL draft the following April.

The groundbreaking of the Fox River expansion could be anytime between April and August, but the museum is hoping for April.