The Columbus Metropolitan Library is more than just books – they go out every day, but especially around the holidays.
The main downtown library features a book-filled Christmas tree, playful wildlife dioramas and the Huntington Holiday Train — celebrating its 30th anniversary — in a festive look in the lobby.
About the Huntington Holiday Train
The train was built in 1992 by Paul Busse, who designed the Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The original home of the Holiday Train was downtown Huntington Bank.
Since 2009, the train has been on display at the library during the holidays, with the exception of 2015, the year of the library's renovation, and 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Inside the library, the train is 600 square feet in size, with over 280 feet of track, 50 "snow" books and several trains running through the gallery.
Busse modeled the buildings on real churches, houses and shops in Bavarian towns in Germany using all natural materials such as bark, leaves, seeds, pine cones and wood moss. There is a palace, a cathedral and a fountain. He created small townspeople, vendors, and children who gather to watch the train pass by.
More than 4,000 visitors enjoyed this year's train edition at the library's open days earlier this month.
"Every year it's organized a little differently and every year it's magical," said Ben Zenitsky, the library's media specialist.
The charming Borough Weasel is always a big hit.
When my teenage daughters were little, one of our holiday traditions was visiting the "Weasel Den" in the main library. In the year Created in 1990 by design students at the Columbus College of Art and Design, these charming dioramas have stood the test of time.
This year's detailed inverted mirror display is on the first floor of the children's area of the library. In the clever landscape, anthropomorphic creatures – turtles, squirrels, rabbits, mice, birds, beavers and, of course, weasels – celebrate Christmas.
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In their underground home, small wild animals gather near the Christmas tree and fireplace, baby mice sleep in a cozy bedroom, mother squirrel eats in the oven, the frog takes a bath and the little rabbit hangs out in the pink bunny. Sliders.
Above ground, a group of tortoises and rabbits sing Christmas carols, a squirrel slides across a frozen pond, and a large beaver seems stuck trying to climb out of a tree hole. The whole show is a treat with endless characters.
More art in the library
Although the attractions are up until January 8, many works of art can be found throughout the year in the main library and 22 branch libraries.
Many paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works in other media are on display through the Ohio Art Centennial Program in new and renovated buildings and the art department of the library system's renovation budget. .
Among those in the main library is curator Brenda Lynn Robinson's colorful Sellsville and Blackberry Patch mural that goes up on the lobby stairs. Todd Slough's "Vanitas" sculpture hangs in the lobby; Outdoor sculptures on campus by Virginia Overton are made from reclaimed marble from the library's 2015-2016 renovation. This Ann Hamilton inkjet print features "book weights" and more near the shelves. These attractive and inspiring works add a visual dimension to the library's powerful informational power.
At a glance
The Huntington Holiday Train and Weasel Burrow runs through January 8 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 96 S. Grant Ave. Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9:00am to 9:00pm, Friday and Saturday 9:00am to 6:00pm, Sunday 1:00am to 5:00pm. The library will be closed on December 25th, 26th and 31st and January 1st and 2nd. Visit www.columbuslibrary.org.
This article originally appeared in the Columbus Dispatch: Columbus library's main room features art, holiday trains and other attractions.