Laboratory of Learning

The highest calling of the California State Railroad Museum is to serve as a laboratory of learning. The museum has a long and proud tradition of hosting field trips, but over the last five years, the museum has begun to reshape itself into a place where students of all levels can learn by doing.


Every day, student interns are engaged in project-based learning in the care of artifacts, the administration of archives, visitor services, and career technical education through the maintenance of locomotives and equipment.

Museum As A Classroom

The museum has also become the classroom through innovative courses in museum studies and public history taught by museum staff.

Students from CSU Sacramento have created permanent exhibits within the California State Railroad Museum, such as Farm to Fork: A Public History. Wanting to tell the stories of people often left out of history books, this class project explored contributions of the reclamation workers, farmers, and field laborers, whose efforts made Sacramento “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.”

More About The Exhibit

Individual students have turned their master’s thesis into exhibits and exhibit plans related to women in the American railroads and the role of post office railroad cars in connecting the nation. Students interested in digital humanities have created digital exhibits that connect the California State Railroad Museum to people and places throughout the globe.

View the Student Exhibits

All these activities allow students see their educational efforts work in the world in ways that traditional classroom assignments often do not. And the results are proof positive that the best museum is a teaching museum.

If you are interested in learning more about an internship at the California State Railroad Museum or if educators would like to learn more about partnering with the Museum, please contact Carly Starr at [email protected].