Artrain USA is the nation's only art museum on a train, with five rail cars housing a fine arts exhibition, interactive area, artist studio, gift shop and staff administrative space.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Artrain USA brings unique opportunities for learning and community activities across the country by way of the nation's railroads. Since it started, more than 2.6 million people in 600 communities in 44 states and the District of Columbia have visited Artrain.
In January, Sikeston and area communities will get a chance.
Sponsored by DaimlerChrysler, the Artrain will be in town for four days and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 26 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 27 on the Union Pacific Railroad in front of the Depot. It takes an estimated 50 minutes to complete the tour.
Missy Marshall, executive director of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, described the free upcoming event as one visitors of all ages won't soon forget.
"It started back in 1971 and it's going to be brought into Sikeston on the Union Pacific Railroad that runs through town, they're going to be parked in front of the Depot. On these cars are artworks that were commissioned for NASA by people like Peter Max, Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell. It's from one end of the spectrum to the other, so it should have something that would appeal to anybody and everybody, from little kids to senior citizens."
Motorists should note that the Artrain will take up part of Stoddard Street which will be blocked off while the train is in town.And Marshall expressed her appreciation for the cooperation of Union Pacific and businesses in town who use the railroad but have agreed to work their shipment schedules around when the Artrain will be in Sikeston.
What Marshall especially likes is the fact that communities are made a part of the Artrain's visits. Committee members are currently looking for volunteers who would act as tour guides for the various stations on the train. Volunteers will be trained about the different aspects of the exhibit before the train opens. Any group or individual interested is asked to call Pam Bedell at 471-9720.
"What we are also doing in conjunction with the Artrain is we're bringing in area artists to exhibit and demonstrate sculpting, woodcarving, quilting and painting. The Artrain organization encourages us to bring in exhibitors because the whole point is to create better awareness about art. So, it involves our community in the activities of the Artrain and that's a great opportunity. The Artrain is bringing art, sketches and paintings and prints to us that some of us would never have the opportunity to see."
On Jan. 23, committee members will host a reception which includes refreshments and a private tour of the Artrain. Tickets are $100 a couple, which will help underwrite expenses for the train which the grant money won't cover, such as fuel while it's here and hotel accommodations for the staff who travels with the train. The "Private Tour" reception will be limited to 100 people. Anyone who does not receive an invitation and would like to attend is encouraged to call Elizabeth Wilson at 471-8122.
Any group or organization interested in being a corporate sponsor for the Artrain's visit may call Charlie Scott at 472-5565.
"Besides the fact that people get to see all this art, some kids have never been on a train," Marshall pointed out. "They're going to on a train and go through all the train cars, so that's another aspect. It's just a different experience. The Artrain travels throughout the United States and we are its only stop this year in Missouri," Marshall pointed out. "The Sikeston area is fortunate to have the Artrain visit. It has made only three stops in Missouri during its 30-year history."