A Walk Down Memory Lane As Lowell National Historical Park Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary
LOWELL -- How do you sift through 560,000 objects in the Lowell National Historical Park collection?
Which ones would you put on display on the walls at the Brush Art Gallery and Studios?
Celeste Bernardo, park superintendent, can’t even imagine that tall task, she said at the opening reception of a historic exhibit celebrating the park’s 40th anniversary on Saturday.
“But they have done a fabulous job, and I think it just gives a flavor of how we got here,” Bernardo said.
“An exhibit like this helps us remember what we went through,” she added.
The Brush Art Gallery and Studios on Saturday hosted an opening reception for the exhibit: “Making Connections: The 40th Anniversary of Lowell National Historical Park.” The exhibit at 256 Market St. runs until Nov. 3.
In 1978, Congress established the Lowell National Historical Park. U.S. President Jimmy Carter, with Paul Tsongas and Ted Kennedy looking on, signed the bill creating the park.
This exhibition, featuring objects from Lowell National Historical Park’s collection, celebrates the park’s anniversary.
Bernardo said many people at the event came up to her to talk about memories of the park and to say the exhibit was like a walk down memory lane.
The themed sections of the exhibit include:
* Before the Park; an introductory section of pre-park objects.
* Making the Park; Lowell’s physical restoration.
* Telling the Story; education and interpretation.
* Living Lowell; Lowell Folk Festival and other cultural features.
* The Future Park; visitor interactives and future plans and proposals.
In addition to historical items, the exhibition includes interactive elements and commissioned renditions of a futuristic Lowell National Historical Park.
“The circle of people who love the city, the circle of people who love the national park and wanted it here will be that circle that keeps this park going for many years to come,” Bernardo said.
One of the paintings of a future Lowell showed what the city could look like in 2100.
“Who knows, perhaps the brick of the future will be recycled plastic shaped by 3D printers instead of clay fired in a kiln,” the caption reads.
Another future Lowell poster showed air trolleys, river trips on the Maid of the Merrimack Mist, and smokestack observation decks.
Forty years after it’s creation, the park attracts tens of thousands of people each year. More than 85,000 visitors came through the visitor center last year. Many go on walking tours and urban hikes, canal and river boat tours, trolley tours and rides, and attend special programs and events.
More than 1.3 million students and teachers have been served at the Tsongas Industrial History Center.
In addition, the park has played a key role in the Lowell Folk Fest for more than 30 years, welcoming hundreds of thousands of attendees.
The park includes 5.6 miles of historic canals, eight canal gatehouse structures, five historic structures, four museums with permanent exhibits, and 560,000 objects in their collection.
Furthermore, the park has been involved with the historic preservation in Lowell. About 98 percent of the more than 5.3 million square feet of mill space has either been redeveloped or is in the planning stages for redevelopment.
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.