The Boxcar Children

Open through May 6, 2018

Join us on Saturdays in November as we offer programming inspired by The Boxcar Children. Check our calendar to learn more.

The Boxcar Children is an exhibit designed around the popular and beloved Boxcar Children book series, written by Gertrude Chandler Warner and originally published by Rand McNally in 1924. TCMU has created this wonderful exhibit as a way to celebrate the books’ 75th anniversary in 2017, in conjunction with a new animated feature film release.

The Boxcar Children book series tells the story of four orphaned children in the late 1920s who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest. The children eventually meet their wealthy grandfather and decide to live with him, as the book series continues to highlight their many adventures. The exhibit simulates many settings found in the first book of the series. As children play in the exhibit, they will also explore the familiar themes of literacy, family values, resourcefulness, and empathy that The Boxcar Children books are so well-known for.

As visitors enter the exhibit, they will be immersed into the world of The Boxcar Children, with text panels and audio enhancements that offer a linear walk-through experience, as well as many opportunities for imaginative, non-linear play. The highly interactive, three-dimensional exhibit features 1500 square feet of space highlighting many of the book’s familiar scenes in areas where children can learn and play:

  • The Boxcar: The Boxcar Children exhibit wouldn’t be complete without a boxcar replica! Children will be enchanted as they enter a nearly life-size boxcar, filled with various props from the book that the children used to make their own home. Just like the resourceful characters in the story, children can place sleeping mats inside, set a table with their found treasures, or enjoy a book in a reading nook.
  • The Bakery: The bakery contains many props related to the action found in the story. Children can peer into the bakery like Benny did, to admire the delicious sweets from outside, or go inside to sort the bakery breads and select from many bakery treats. Children can also work in the bakery to sweep the floor, or collect money at the register, where they can get a history lesson about from the cost of living in the 1920s versus today. Children can also take a rest on the red benches, just like the characters in the story.
  • Dr. Moore’s House: Children will be intrigued as soon as they enter the house from the front porch, where they can rest in rocking chairs or clean and sort through the tools in Dr. Moore’s garage. Inside the house, children can pretend to cook cherry dumplings in the kitchen, and in the bedroom, children will practice empathy as they can role play how to care for others who are sick, just as Dr. Moore cared for Violet.
  • Dr. Moore’s Yard and Garden: In this area of the exhibit, children have many props that allow them to move from one part of the story to another. Vegetables can be picked from the garden and then taken back to the boxcar to make soup, or children can use the gardening tools to help clean up, weed the garden, and plant vegetables.
  • Author Memory Wall: One final element of the exhibit features information about the book’s author, Gertrude Chandler Warner.


The Boxcar Children programming is sponsored by South Carolina Humanities, a not-for-profit organization; inspiring, engaging and enriching South Carolinians with programs on literature, history, culture and heritage.

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