The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art welcomes back families during the holidays with the opening of the Fifth Third Bank Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure November 20, as well as the reopening of the museum’s family discovery area that has been newly reimagined. Now in its 12th holiday season, Jingle Rails includes a spectacular new addition: a recreation of San Francisco and its hills, trolleys and landmarks, such as Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and more.
The annual holiday favorite Jingle Rails is a whimsical model railroad featuring nine G-scale model trains on 1,200 feet of track at the Eiteljorg. Winding through tunnels and over trestles, the trains pass miniatures of the downtown Indianapolis skyline and landmarks of the American West, such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. The scenic backdrops are crafted out of all-natural materials such as bark, tree roots, pine cones, acorns, seed pods and honeycomb.
Jingle Rails guests also will be among the first to experience the grand reopening of the renovated Nina Mason Pulliam Education Center, featuring the R.B. Annis Western Family Experience, where children can lead their grownups in learning. Opportunities for play, creativity and discovery abound in the center, including exhibits for learners of all ages that highlight five diverse families of the contemporary American West. The museum’s popular Totem Pole and Concord Stagecoach remain as focal points of the R.B. Annis Western Family Experience, which is included with regular museum admission.
“We are very excited this year to align two outstanding family experiences: the holiday favorite Jingle Rails and our education center reopening, a keystone project of our Project 2021 capital/endowment campaign,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “Grandparents and grandchildren, parents and their children and generations in between will want to take in these creative and immersive experiences and create family memories.”
A presenting sponsor of Jingle Rails the past two seasons, Fifth Third Bank is leading the way this year as the official title sponsor.
“At our core, we are committed to building lasting relationships within our communities,” Fifth Third Bank Regional President Mike Ash said. “We are thrilled to continue to partner with the Eiteljorg Museum on something that brings so much joy and a sense of nostalgia to tens of thousands of people in the greater Indianapolis area every year.”
Jingle Rails visitors also will delight in the return of the miniature Indianapolis Motor Speedway scene – complete with working Indy slot cars racing around the track, including a whimsical representation of the Fifth Third Bank Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Graham Rahal Indy car speeding by.
The creative team at Applied Imagination in Alexandria, Ky. – a botanical architecture firm led by Paul Busse – created Jingle Rails, and maintains and installs it at the Eiteljorg for its 8½-week run each holiday season. A team of local volunteer model-train enthusiasts assist throughout Jingle Rails, answering visitors’ questions and maintaining the model railroad.
“They are a magical type of experience,” Director of Exhibition and Graphic Design Steve Sipe said of Jingle Rails and the education center. “Immersive experiences like these give visitors – children, especially – an opportunity to explore the diversity of the West, and share that with others around them.”
At the Nina Mason Pulliam Education Center, visitors can enter the Cagle Family Gateway of Learning into the newly renovated Stephen and Sharon Zimmerman Resource Center, where families can enjoy digital puzzles and art-making activities. The center includes the museum’s Watanabe Family Library, as well as a quiet room and nursing room.
Tickets: $15, adults; $12, seniors; $8, ages 5-17; free, children 4 and under. Tickets are not timed this year, but guests are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance.