Pardon the Dust: A Holiday Tradition Continues, Despite a Historic Restoration


An annual visit to Cincinnati Museum Center’s popular holiday train display and a festively decorated Union Terminal is a highly anticipated part of many local family traditions.

While the Duke Energy Holiday Trains are in storage as Union Terminal continues its restoration, visitors can include a visit to
Cincinnati Museum Center that will include several iconic train displays. The experience might be a little different, but Cody Hefner, manager of media relations, says employees have been working diligently to create a memorable holiday visitor experience: Holiday Junction featuring Brickopolis.

The exhibit opens November 10 and will cover more than 12,000 square feet of exhibit space with festive fun that includes some fan favorite train displays. The ever-popular Thomas the Tank Engine display will be up, as will the Super-O interactive layout and the garden railway trains. Families with young children will be excited to hear that the riding train will be available as well.

The special Brickopolis display features intricate, holiday-themed LEGO designs put together by builders from the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana LEGO Users Group (OKILUG). “While most of these scenes are being kept under wraps to add to the surprise, we can say that there will be running LEGO trains, familiar reproductions of iconic buildings, holiday scenes and surprises tucked into every nook and cranny,” Hefner says. “And don’t forget to look up, because the group is truly creating a three-dimensional experience.”

Hefner says artists and creators behind these “pixelated masterpieces” will hold presentations from time to time throughout the exhibit’s run to talk about the creation process. Younger visitors can even try their hand at LEGO artistry at pint-sized tables filled with LEGO bricks.

Hefner says the Union Terminal restoration is critical to the building’s long-term viability and the future of Cincinnati Museum Center. The facility is undergoing a full structural restoration with much of the work happening behind the scenes. The project is addressing issues with water damage, aging mechanical systems and the necessary upkeep that comes with maintaining an 84-year-old building.

During fall and winter, crews will continue tackling structural problems that will have them removing limestone and brick from the back of the building to expose and repair the structural steel underneath. Union Terminal will also undergo an extensive HVAC overhaul that will include more than 478,000 pounds of new ductwork and fully updated electrical systems.

Hefner says construction is expected to be complete by November 2018.

In the meantime, Hefner encourages the public to visit the expanded Duke Energy Children’s Museum. This facility has remained open during construction while undergoing a rebirth of its own. In the spring, it added KidSPACE, an interactive play lab where Hefner says “kids can let their imaginations come to life while exploring five interactive zones.” This area has kids building, climbing, playing with technology including 3D printing, weaving and sewing, painting, creating ceramic art, exploring screen printing and more.

Children’s Museum programming is ongoing during construction as well, including Story Tree Time, Banfield Pet Academy, Super Sprouts and the offsite STEM Girls program. STEM Girls connects kids with female mentors and role models in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and expands their view of what STEM is all about.

Whether visitors see the Holiday Junction featuring Brickopolis displays or the Duke Energy Children’s Museum next door, there’s a good chance their visit will leave an impression.

Although space is limited this year due to the restoration, Hefner says the Museum Center is packing every available inch with spectacles, displays and programming to enhance every guest’s experience. “Holidays are a time that brings families together and we want to be the place where those moments happen,” he says. “We want their time in the Children’s Museum to spark conversations and their visit through Holiday Junction to be the things wide-eyed grins are made of. But most importantly, we want this to be something they share together and something they remember all year.”

Santa, as always, will arrive November 24.

To learn more about Holiday Junction featuring Brickopolis, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum hours and programs, and to check out the latest Union Terminal restoration progress, visit

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is located at 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45203. For more information, call 513.287.7000 or visit