The B&O Railroad Museum is planning a multimillion-dollar transformation of its 40-acre campus that museum officials say will better connect the institution with the Southwest Baltimore community.
The museum on Thursday announced a $30 million capital campaign that will see major changes to its campus at 901 W. Pratt St. The project, which is expected to be completed by 2027, will include moving the museum’s main entrance to face Pigtown and creating a public garden for community use.
“We hope that this sparks and catalyzes community development,” museum director Kris Hoellen told the Baltimore Business Journal during an event announcing the project. “This is an area that has been historically uninvested.”
The project is supported by the successor of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX Corp., which donated $5 million, and the state of Maryland, which is investing $3 million. The museum is working on raising additional funds for the remaining cost of the project. Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2024 with completion by the 200th anniversary of the railroad in 2027.
In order to reorient its campus, the museum will make use of its "South Car Works" building, which is not open to the public and has been used for storage. The two-story, 33,000-square-foot building will house the new entrance, an innovation hall, an archival space, classrooms and a public cafe. The first floor will be completely open to the public with the ticketed entrance starting on the second floor.
The entire campus’ flow will change with the reconfiguration of the entrance.
Museum-goers will begin at the new entrance along Ramsay Street and move through the railroad industry’s history in the museum’s three main public buildings. History will flow from the present and future of the railroad industry to the past, which ends in the museum’s roundhouse.
The South Car Works building is located at the corner of Ramsay and South Amity streets and will also have an amphitheater and multi-use space next to it called the “CSX Bicentennial Garden.” The space will be intended for community use and will also be able to host community-oriented events such as markets and festivals.
During a news conference, Gov. Wes Moore said projects like this make neighborhoods better and lead to a bright future for the state as a whole. He commented on the history of the railroad, which showed Baltimore's strength and importance to the country.
“This is what sustainable change is going to require,” Moore said about the public and private partnership for the museum project.
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