News Archive

News Archives
We welcome you to peruse through our past news to find out about some of the exciting things that have taken place at Museum L-A.  Click on each title to view the information.  
September 6, 2017

Museum L-A Receives Weaving Looms and Spinning Wheels

Museum L-A recently received two adult weaving looms and two spinning wheels from the American Textile Museum of Lowell, Massachusetts to add to its Collections and Education Departments. Museum L-A is honored to be a trusted recipient of these invaluable items.

The looms and spinning wheels will be used in the future as the Museum develops its Design Studio which will offer hands-on education to the public. The Studio will serve as a resource library to educators, artists and community members; educational classes; and a place where people will have access to the equipment to learn and explore. Watch for future announcements for programming.

PHOTO CAPTION: Museum L-A volunteers (L-R: Marcel Gagnon, Kevin Callahan, Joshua Selfors, and Steve Burger load one of the donated looms from the American Textile Museum in Lowell, MA.


August 29, 2017

Museum L-A Welcomes New Board Members

The Board of Directors of Museum L-A is pleased to announce that Steven Huber and Mark Tanous have recently joined the Board of Directors of Museum L-A.

Steven Huber is the Private Practice Owner and Clinician at Huber Associates Physical Therapy and Orthotics in Auburn, Maine. He has worked in our local Lewiston-Auburn community for more than 30 years and is involved as a volunteer in many local, state-wide and national organizations. Steve has a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy from Temple University. He has authored many publications and taught several courses throughout the United States. Steve’s experience with small business, strategic planning and fundraising will greatly assist in the operations of both present and new Museum. Steve resides in Turner, Maine.

Mark Tanous is the Managing Partner at The Synergy Search Group, a boutique search firm based in Maine. He has more than 20 years’ experience in professional services and business management. Before joining SSG, Mark served as Director of Client Services at Career Management. He has also held senior level positions at Financial Institution Services Corp., Executive Search Group, The Auburn Group International, Management Recruiters International and International Insurance Services. A graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Mark holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology Engineering and an Associate of Science Degree in business. Mark’s knowledge of Human Resources and experience in Fundraising will enhance the Museum’s operations. Mark resides in North Turner, Maine.

“These individuals will bring an invaluable level of knowledge and expertise in management, relationship building, and leadership that will bring Museum L-A to a new level,” says John Cleveland, Board Chair. “On behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, we welcome them with open arms and look forward to working with them as our Museum moves into its exciting future.”


Julu 10, 2017

Museum L-A Announces New Hours of Operation

Museum L-A is expanding its hours of operation to accommodate the schedules of its local community.  

Museum L-A’s mission is to connect generations, strengthen community, and foster creativity, discovery, and innovative thinking. We chronicle the history of work, industry and community in Lewiston and Auburn; serve as a community gathering place; create engaging learning experiences; and contribute to the civic, cultural, and economic revitalization of Lewiston-Auburn.

Rachel Desgrossielliers, Executive Director, explains: “We have experienced an increase in the number of visitors to Museum L-A, including bus tours and large groups of people who are interested in touring our historical exhibits.” The new hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Special tour requests and large group tours outside of these hours are available by appointment.


July 12, 2017

New Staff Join Museum L-A 

Museum L-A is pleased to announce the addition of new employees.

Kathy Becvar, the Museum’s new full-time Director of Development, previously worked as the Director of Development for Central Maine Healthcare Corporation, overseeing fundraising for Central Maine Medical Center, Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital. Kathy has a Bachelor’s Degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies with concentration in human resources, employee training and development and computer technology. She will provide leadership and management to advance the fundraising of the Museum. In addition, Kathy will oversee all marketing and public relations activities.  

Emma Sieh is the Museum’s part-time Collections and Exhibits Coordinator. She started her career as a collections volunteer at the Heritage Flight Museum in Washington State. She was then asked by their Director of Programs to become their official Collections Manager working to help maintain and update collection spaces and policies, as well as creating and redesigning exhibits and displays. She graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology in 2014 and recently received her M.A. in Museum Studies, with a focus on collections and exhibition development, from Southern University at New Orleans. She will provide collections management expertise, help to coordinate, plan, and curate future exhibitions, and chair several committees within the organization. 

Kate Webber will serve as the Museum’s full-time Director of Education and Outreach. As a student at Bates College, she collaborated with Museum L-A to plan an outreach event. She graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology in 2011. After two years as an Island Institute AmeriCorps Fellow with the Swan’s Island Historical Society, she authored Swan’s Island Chronicles: Borrowed, Exaggerated, and Half-forgotten Tales of Island Life. Kate most recently worked as Communications & Development Assistant at the Maine Humanities Council. In 2017, she received her M.A. in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. She will serve as Museum L-A’s chief programmatic strategist, and will develop partnerships with schools and community organizations to expand the museum’s role as a resource to Lewiston-Auburn.

In a related change, Robert Caron is moving from his current role as Project Coordinator to our new part-time Visitor Services and Volunteer Coordinator. Robert has been with the Museum for two years and offers an extensive array of experience from human resources, employee training and development, and data collection and analysis. Robert has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Maine at Farmington and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources from Thomas College. He is responsible for all aspects of Visitor Services including the development of new programs and the coordination of tours and volunteer services.

“We are extremely pleased and excited to have three highly qualified staff joining Museum L-A, says Rachel Desgrossielliers, Executive Director. “These individuals bring additional resources including experience in the areas of fundraising and marketing, education and outreach programs, and curation, collections and exhibits that is crucial to bringing us to the next level of who we want to be as an organization. Our community can expect to see many changes over the next several months and beyond.”

Press Release: 6/29/2017
Rachel Desgrosseilliers – 207-333-3881 or
Janice L. Moore – 207-865-4912; email: jlmooreart@gmail.com

Museum L-A Exhibit connects artifacts and artwork to future growth potential

LEWISTON – Museum L-A announces its new thought provoking exhibit “Structures & Patterns: The Remnants of Our Work” in collaboration with their guest curator Janice L. Moore, fine arts painter, and photographer, Mark Marchesi. The exhibit includes works by these artists and incorporates authentic mill artifacts. Both artists and the Museum are examining the community’s relationship to industrial mills in Maine, specifically the historical city of Lewiston. The goal of the exhibit is to evoke a sense of reverence for the mills and elevate the mill buildings to the level of importance they deserve in a viewer’s eyes. It also aims to help people understand that although our old working factories are often seen as just abandoned work structures, they are actually renewed and repurposed industrial sites not to be taken for granted. The exhibit will be open from July 15 to October 28.

An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 15 from 5-7pm and is free to the public. The reception will be an excellent opportunity to meet the artists and marvel at the intricacies of their work and the buildings that inspired them.

A panel discussion “New Patterns: Planning the Future of our New Work” will be held on October 18 at 5:30 pm and will include members of the community, business owners, nonprofit organizations and creative entrepreneurs. Each voice will bring an important perspective to a conversation about the economic future of the City of Lewiston. The discussion will highlight the significant impact of the
growing creative/maker community, in addition to how these industrial structures could help shape Lewiston’s future landscape and economy.

“I wanted a way for the work I’ve been creating for so long to be useful in some way. Showing this art in this repurposed mill space feels perfect,” says Janice L. Moore, Curator & Artist. “The exhibit itself becomes part of the process of repurposing at the Mill and creates a new opportunity to be in this space, to see, to notice, to remember and to share. Art as a reflection of what is, what was and what’s next,” she continues. “My hope is that the art and archives can serve as another platform for the ongoing conversation the L/A community has been engaging in toward its’ reimagined and revitalized future.”

We hope to engage these audiences in a multigenerational dialogue that spans across multiple sectors. We want to ask – what would happen if a real estate developer, a retired mill worker and young people shared their ideas and visions for what their city could be?

“Museum L-A believes that rather than push ideas at our visitors, we strive to pull ideas from them,” says Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Executive Director of Museum L-A. “We will use imagination to envision the community that meets their needs and the needs of generations to come.”

Throughout the exhibit, Museum L-A, in collaboration with the Maine Historical Society, hopes to capture stories and memories for My Maine Stories for the Maine Memory Network collection. Museum visitors are encouraged to share their memories of the Mills of Maine.

This project is made possible with generous support from Talley-O Design, Platz Associates, Kimball Street Studios and Center Street Dental.

July 15, 2017

Museum L-A Receives Leadership Gift 

Excitement is in the air at Museum L-A these days as they look forward to a very active future. Our ancestors claimed that working in the mills, shoe shops and brickyards was “hard work”, but, they carried on with pride. Despite the many challenges faced in the economic downturn, Museum L-A’s board, staff, volunteers and its Executive Director, Rachel Desgrosseilliers, continue to persevere. Where many would have given up, the Museum strengthened and moved forward.

In 2010, Museum L-A purchased the original 1850 Camden Yarns Mill property — one of Lewiston’s first cotton mills. Until the Camden Yarns property is renovated the Museum is housed in temporary space. “Being in a temporary space, our hands are tied from moving forward in developing innovative programs and new income streams which would lead us to becoming sustainable. Time is of the essence for us!” stated Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Executive Director.  

With its sights on relocating to a structurally sound and environmentally controlled building, Museum L-A has already invested over $1.3 million towards the acquirement, environmental cleanup, demolition and stabilization of the structure and site. The site is owned free and clear and despite financial challenges that arose which delayed progress on the site and museum operations, the Museum is debt free. The Museum ‘weathered the storm’— surviving a major economic downfall, loss of major grants and unavoidable staff cuts. Since opening to the public, Museum L-A has spent the greatest part of its $5.35 million in operating expenses in the local economy, thereby having a great economic impact for the area.  

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining 

“The challenge of being pressed out of temporary space as well as the opportunity given to us by an anonymous donor who, believing in the museum, gave a leadership gift towards the new building provided the impetus needed for us to once again become Bold, Audacious and Daring,” said Desgrosseilliers.  
 
Leadership and operation gifts such as these help Museum L-A by inspiring the organization to resume its steps in the renovating of the Camden Yarns Mill building into a state of the art museum. “Museum L-A’s Board of Directors could not be more pleased and excited about the future. New and significant financial support will allow the Museum to increase its professional staff, expand its programming and continue the progress toward developing a new Museum building.” said Board Chair, John Cleveland. 

Confronted by lingering threats to its current collections, which are stored in unprotected and borrowed spaces where environmental factors such as light, temperature, humidity, and rodents speed up deterioration of artifacts, museum staff and volunteers continue to work tirelessly saving what artifacts they can to protect pieces of Lewiston-Auburn and Maine’s past from an unnecessary demise.
 
Museum L-A is in support of current progressive business development happening in the Bates Mill and shares its excitement as large barren neighboring spaces re-energize with new business fronts. However, as businesses move in, museum operations and storage spaces shrink, calling for the museum’s staff and volunteers to react quickly to changes in programs, services and preservation efforts.  

The Museum is presently in need of between 1,500 and 2,500 sq. ft. of storage space in order to save artifacts that now need to be moved. Suggestions for available space welcomed. Operating from temporary space, the Museum is both grateful and nervous. Indebted for the use of donated space to run its operations, exhibitions, and storage, the Museum is finding itself more and more in a pinch.    

A sustainability task force was established in 2015 which created three year individual and business sustainability pledges to strengthen the Museum’s ability to survive the economic downfall. Despite additional constraints, it is with the help of these pledges and dedication of board members, donors, staff and volunteers that the Museum was able to survive.  

 DumpTruck Dive

Stories of Museum staff working to save our heritage are legendary. The Executive Director arrived to work one morning when her attention was caught by a red object in a dump truck near a loading dock. The daughter of millworkers, her intuition kicked in as she climbed up into the dump truck. She discovered over 600 original bedspread artwork designs ready to be hauled to the landfill which she pulled to safety. She was then told about silkscreens in the basement of a mill. Arriving, she found the patterns being destroyed and the frames being sold for scrap. Today both of these collections are in position of becoming national treasures. 

Rising as a catalyst for the community, Museum L-A has hosted programs and events such as “Kids as Curators”, the Lewiston-Auburn Mini Maker Faire, Worker Reunions and Oral History projects as well as many major special events like the “Echoes in Time” music celebration and the Maine Innovation Expo. In the past couple of years, there has been a growing interest amongst college interns from all over New England. Several interns have changed their career paths because of their experiences with the Museum.  

The Museum, in search of new income streams, has collaborated with Bates College to license millworkers’ silkscreen designs for the interior decor of two new residence halls. In favor of economic growth, Museum L-A supported OriginUSA in the manufacturing company’s move back from Pakistan to Maine; a collaboration that then led the Museum to license images for printing as a one-time, limited edition use on OriginUSA’s Made in Maine kimonos being sold all over the world— carrying with each piece, the story of L-A.

WorkArt, the Museum’s first copyrighted line of prints are ready for production of its second batch of bedspread designs for print wall decor. The museum has recently licensed the reproduction of millworkers’ art to textile fabrics for interior design. These prints and textile reproductions will be sold in its Gift Shop, alongside Maine Heritage Weaver bedspreads, Museum L-A canvas bags made by L.L.Bean, local artwork and more.  

 “The story being told is much larger than just Lewiston-Auburn.” said Desgrosseilliers. As a beginning museum, Museum L-A is finding that what happened here, happened throughout the state and elsewhere. It is evolving by going beyond its original borders of textiles, shoes and brick to incorporate work in general. A variety of stories needing to be told continue to progress to include water power, the canal system, immigration, innovation, the river and so much more.

Museum L-A connects generations, fosters creativity and inventive thinking, and strengthens the Lewiston-Auburn Community. Rachel Desgrosseilliers shares that “Museum L-A reveals and reminds us of who we were as a people, both amazing and innovative but, even more important, that we are still amazing and innovative today.” What happened in these mills and industries isn’t intended to stay within their respective walls, it is meant to be heard and shared. Connecting generations of workers with its new generations, Museum L-A will continue to learn from challenges faced and endure the test of time. The Museum will continue to serve as a catalyst of knowledge, curiosity, and growth for communities across Maine and America.

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