Perennial favorite “Holiday Express” Returns To New-York Historical Society Celebrating Children’s Author Richard Scarry And Busytown

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown On View November 1, 2019 – February 23, 2020

Celebrating Richard Scarry and Busytown with Special Guest, Huck Scarry, Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15

A holiday favorite returns to the New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024, Phone (212) 873-3400) this season—reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of Busytown series author and illustrator Richard Scarry. Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown (November 1, 2019 – February 23, 2020) showcases artwork and graphics of Scarry’s characters like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm from publisher Random House Children’s Books alongside more than 300 objects from the Jerni Collection’s antique toy trains, stations, and accessories. Using Busytown stories and characters, dynamic displays explore the workings of the railroad, the services it provides, and the jobs required to keep people and goods moving. An assortment of kid-friendly activities, story times, and crafts accompany the exhibition throughout its run, welcoming families into the world of classic toys and trains.

Richard “Huck” Scarry Jr., the son of Richard Scarry, will make a special appearance on December 14 and 15. Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies*. Additional support provided by Random House Children’s Books.

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown roars to life at the New-York Historical Society this holiday season. (1) The Jerni Collection, the New-York Historical Society (2) Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat illustrations © 2019 by the Richard Scarry Corporation

Since its acquisition by the New-York Historical Society in 2014, the Jerni Collection has become a highlight of the Museum’s holdings. Assembled over the course of five decades by U.S. collectors Jerry and Nina Greene, the Jerni Collection is considered one of the world’s leading collections of antique model trains and toys and includes unique, handcrafted, and hand-painted pieces dating from approximately 1850 to 1940, and features prime examples by the leading manufacturers that set the standard for the Golden Age of Toy Trains, including the German firms of Märklin and Bing, as well as the American firms Lionel and Ives. (* Bloomberg Philanthropies has sponsored the annual Holiday Express exhibition at the New-York Historical Society since 2014.)

Ives (1868-1932), Grand Central Station, 1910. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Doll et Cie. (1898–1949), Ferris wheel, 1904. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society

Richard Scarry is one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors. In his extraordinary career, Scarry illustrated over 150 books, many of which have never been out of print. His books have sold over 100 million copies around the world and are currently published in over 20 languages.

Busytown author Richard Scarry (19191994.) Photo courtesy of the Scarry Estate

Just like his father, Huck Scarry was always drawing and would often assist his dad in coloring his drawings. After his father’s passing in 1994, Huck took up the mantle of creating new books about Richard Scarry’s charming and funny characters. “My father would be so thrilled with the Holiday Express exhibition at the New-York Historical Society,” said Huck Scarry. “We would often visit New York City, and when we did, we always took the train. So much to see and do! Like our many Busytown friends, we enjoyed our trip because a train ride is always a bit of an adventure!

We’re delighted to celebrate Richard Scarry’s centennial by bringing Busytown to life at the New-York Historical Society this holiday season,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “Pairing iconic characters like Huckle Cat with historic toys and trains from our incomparable Jerni Collection is the perfect way for visitors of all ages to explore the history of transportation in a whimsical way.”

Gebrüder Bing (1863–1933), English market “Charles Dickens” locomotive, 1905. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Boucher Manufacturing Company (1922–1943), Blue Comet, 1929. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society

Busytown is the inspiration for a special installation that uses three Scarry stories and objects from the Jerni Collection to illustrate rail travel in 1919, the year of Scarry’s birth. In Waiting at the Station, characters Huckle Cat and Sally Cat eagerly await the arrival of a train, as miniature figures of porters and other workers bustle around the station. In Betsy Bear’s Letter to Grandma, toy trains demonstrate how post offices and railroads worked together to keep people in touch. And in Coal Makes Electricity Work for Us, a miniature underground mine, elevators, and hoppers show how coal was turned into power.

More than two dozen never-before-displayed objects from the Jerni Collection are on view for the first time this year, including Märklin’s rare “Garden Station,” manufactured in 1900. Other highlights include a toy textile factory from 1910 by Ernst Planck and Gebrüder Bing’s English market “Charles Dickens” locomotive with tender and coaches, produced in 1905. Also on view: a Bing Steam Toy Train from 1912, which was once powered by a real, working steam engine, making it an exceedingly risky plaything in its day. To top it all off, eight sets of running trains encircle the displays overhead and are sure to delight children (and adults!) of all ages.

Märklin (founded 1863), Post office toy, 1906. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Ernst Planck (1866–1932), Toy textile factory, 1910. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Lucien Brianne (active 1900s), Train station, ca. 1905. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society

Large-scale cutouts of Scarry’s iconic characters are displayed throughout the museum, and interactive elements, including a crawl-through space leading to a pop-up observation bubble, allow children to get an up-close view of the displays, harking back to the feel of early 20th century toy departments.

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown Family Programs
Fun, train-related activities for kids of all ages take place through the exhibition’s run―all free with Museum Admission.

Celebrating Richard Scarry and Busytown!
Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15; 1–3 pm

All aboard! Holiday Express returns this year with a special new addition—scenes from Richard Scarry’s Busytown! On this weekend, families will join Huck Scarry in a draw-along of beloved Busytown characters and chat about his father. Children will decorate their own Busytown vehicles, create finger puppets, listen to Busytown tales, and go on a pretend train journey with our favorite Conductor Abe!

December School Vacation Week, Thursday, December 26 – Wednesday, January 1
Stop by New-York Historical during our annual, train-filled Vacation Week. Take part in an “I Spy” scavenger hunt, play at our train table, listen to a classic train story, and make a rail-themed craft to take home!

Holiday Express “I Spy” Scavenger Hunt, All day (Recommended for ages 4 and up)
I SPY, WITH MY LITTLE EYE, A DOG, A SHIP, AND EVEN A FLYING MACHINE! Pick up an “I Spy” scavenger hunt and get the whole family involved on an adventure through Holiday Express. Kids and adults alike will delight in discovering surprises among all the toys and trains.

Train Tales and Crafts, Daily, 2 pm, All Ages
COME FOR THE CLASSIC TRAIN STORY AND STAY FOR THE CRAFTS! Rail-themed books for December School Vacation Week include The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper; Steam Train, Dream Train written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; Shark vs. Train written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; and more.

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown is curated by Mike Thornton, associate curator of material culture at the New-York Historical Society. The original Holiday Express display was designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (LHSA+DP), an integrated architecture and exhibit design firm that also designed New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum. Other consultants for Holiday Express include T W TrainWorx, a nationally recognized model train specialist and designer of custom toy train layouts; and exhibition media producers Batwin + Robin, renowned “media storytellers” with more than 20 years of experience in the theater, museums, and other venues.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.