My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

American Textile History Museum, What Was Inside?

"There is A Lot to Like About Lowell" is the city slogan.

(See tab on right side called "Lowell Series" for many more articles about Lowell.)
The American Textile History Museum, on 491 Dutton Street, Lowell has been one of my favorite museums for many years, and for about five years, I volunteered there doing quite a few things. I always monitored the special exhibits, by answering non-technical questions, preventing photographs from being taken and watching what people brought in, like soft drinks, food and umbrellas. I did this every Thursday evening, from 6-8, as well when special events held on Friday or Saturday evenings in the function area (events such as company fundraisers, weddings, birthday parties, etc.), and assisted in the office of the volunteer coordinator. I met many nice women, some of whom I still see around the city.

Part 2 may be seen HERE. I have included the Museum Guide with a diagram of the building as well as a lot of period rooms.

Favorite exhibits of mine were the Princess Diana dresses (my post), a hat exhibit, Hawaiian shirts, several quilt exhibits and Hollywood costumes (my post with photo of flyer for exhibit).

Unfortunately, the museum closed the first of this year, and I haven't heard if or when they will open. If you ever wanted to see the exhibits, I can show you what I saw the week before it closed. I will do two posts, this one covers the clothes and accessories, in no particular order; the second will show the historical aspect of the museum next week.


(DATED June 14, 2016)

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that due to a significant financial deficit, the American Textile History Museum will be forced to permanently close our doors.

This was a very difficult decision for all involved and certainly not the outcome we had hoped and worked for. However, due to serious operational challenges and financial shortfalls, our Board of Trustees has realized that this is the only responsible option.
All ATHM exhibits are now closed to the public; all programs and classes will be closed as of June 30, 2016. In the coming weeks and months, we will be working closely with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and Supreme Judicial Court to dissolve the Museum's 501(c)(3). You can learn more on our website about what lies ahead.
ATHM has begun the process to transfer our priceless collection to other nonprofit organizations able to serve as faithful, long-term stewards. Recognizing your interest and commitment to this collection, we will endeavor to share on our website the future homes of the artifacts as they are relocated. We are gratefully accepting donations towards the preservation of the collection as we relocate the artifacts in our care.
We sincerely appreciate your support of ATHM. We are sorry to share this unfortunate news and we thank you again for your support of this great museum.

Lowell textile history museum will not reopen

by By Melissa Hanson,

"LOWELL -- Months of talks about a new business model with a local partner were not enough to identify a sustainable plan for the American Textile History Museum, as officials on Tuesday announced the museum's permanent closing.
The museum was primarily working with the Lowell National Historical Park to develop a strategic partnership that would help keep the museum afloat after nearly two decades of financial difficulty, interim Executive Director Todd Smith said.
Though Smith and Park Superintendent Celeste Bernardo planned a partnership of the two organizations, Smith said it became clear that in order to effectively work with the park, which receives federal funding, an organization would have to already be viable and sustainable on its own. The museum is not.
The museum examined other regional organizations for partnership possibilities, but the national park was its best option. Without a clear path for a new business model, museum employees shifted their focus to preserving and identifying a new home for the collection, which has hundreds of thousands of pieces, from objects as small as a sewing needle to those as large as a the towering green roller printer in its lobby.
Museum exhibits at the 491 Dutton St. location closed to the public on Jan. 1. The call was made by the board of trustees after it determined it was not feasible for the museum to continue operating on a shrinking budget.
After seven months, consultation from the Nonprofit Finance Fund and Laura Roberts Consulting failed to identify a viable business model to keep the museum running, the museum said in a statement. The museum is in the process of dissolving its 501(c)(3) status with the state Attorney General's Office and the Supreme Judicial Court.
"This was an extremely difficult decision for all involved and certainly not the outcome we had hoped and worked for," said museum board Chairman J.
One of the museum’s extensive collection of fabric sample books. This is the Hamilton Mills book from November 1883 to February 1884. Sun staff
One of the museum's extensive collection of fabric sample books. This is the Hamilton Mills book from November 1883 to February 1884.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Matthew Coggins. "However, the board recognizes that serious operational challenges, financial shortfalls and other circumstances make it impossible to ethically and responsibly dedicate further financial assets to attempt to keep our doors open."
The museum was running through up to $800,000 annually, officials said. Its current endowment is $1.65 million. That money will be used to steward the collection to new homes, likely to multiple partners. But while keeping some parts of the collection together, it will not be enough to cover the entire cost.
"We are really hoping there are members of the community near and far who will feel that the long-term preservation of the collection is worthy of giving to," Coggins said in a phone interview.
Some dresses from the mid to late-1800s at the museum.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Some dresses from the mid to late-1800s at the museum.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
The museum has seven full-time staff members and several hourly contractors. For now, their focus will be on moving the collection, but once that task is complete the staff will be let go, Coggins said. It will take at least a year to complete that process.
Classes at the museum will end June 30.
Smith said the board and the museum staff have done nothing but "a spectacular job" with the museum, something also acknowledged by industry leaders he has spoken with during the process.
"It's been a very difficult process to go through, and this is certainly not the outcome that we had hoped for," Coggins said.
Financial difficulty has plagued the museum for nearly two decades.
Smith poses near cotton dresses from the mid-1800s.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Smith poses near cotton dresses from the mid-1800s.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Since moving from North Andover to its current location in 1997, attendance and revenue have been much lower and operating costs much higher than projected estimates at the time of the move.
The loss is significant. The textile museum holds the world's largest collections of tools, spinning wheels, hand looms and early production machines, as well as more than 5 million pieces of textile prints, fabric samples, rolled textiles coverlets and costumes, according to its website. The museum was founded in 1960 and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. It offered a core exhibit, rotating special exhibits, events, and online access to the artifact collections at
It's grim to see a textile museum fail in the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, but Smith said the concept of a museum is not entirely dependent on its survival.
"It's more the execution of the business model and how it deals with the financial reality of serving that mission," Smith said in a phone interview.
Smith was appointed in mid-September, following the sudden departure of Jonathan Stevens, president and CEO, over differences of opinion with the board of trustees regarding the museum's future direction.
The museum is working with The Edge Group in Lowell to prepare to sell its 65,000-square-foot condominium space on Dutton Street.
Last year the museum had 20,000 visitors, slightly higher than the annual visitation for the previous years because of the attention to the "Wonder of Wool" exhibit.
Smith said officials plan to keep the museum's website up for at least a year after closing, and that the online collection will still be available for researchers.
Christopher Rogers, a member of the museum's Board of Advisors, said the closure is sad, but that his grandmother, Caroline Stevens Rogers, who founded ATHM in 1960, was a big believer in change when it is needed.
"She'd be the first to cry for a minute for the loss, but then say, 'It's been incredible. Look at all the good we've done,'" he said.
This was not the museum's first attempt at major change. In 2005, the board voted to restructure, permanently closing the Textile Conservation Center and selling part of its Dutton Street building for conversion into mixed-use space. The museum closed its exhibits and galleries to the public and launched a $3.9 million campaign to raise funds for a core exhibit renovation, endowment and operating costs. The campaign goal was reached and the museum reopened in June 2009.
Museums have struggled financially since the economic crisis in 2008, the museum's statement said. In the last year, at least 11 U.S. museums have closed.
The textile museum will still collect donations to support the hours necessary to transfer the collection to another organization for long-term stewardship. Donations will be accepted at, by mail to 491 Dutton St., Lowell, MA 01854, or calling the museum and giving your credit card number over the phone.
"We are asking that all who share a love of and concern for America's history and heritage help us preserve and protect the museum's unparalleled collection of American artifacts," Smith said.
Follow Melissa Hanson on Twitter and Tout @Melissa__Hanson."
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