NEMA Museums New England

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Museum Profile

North Adams Museum of History & Science

Western Gateway Heritage State Park, Bldg 5A, PO Box 333, North Adams, MA 01247

The North Adams Historical Society, Inc. was established June 21,1988, as an outgrowth of the Hoosac Tunnel Historical Society which had met its goal in the establishment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park highlighting the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel. Our goal is to preserve, protect and promote the history of North Adams and its environs. We initially had displays in Building 1 of the Park, then moved to Building 2. Both of these were small single-story structures where we held programs and exhibited a few local items. In May of 2001 we opened our current Museum in Building 5A, a much larger three-story structure in the Freight Yard Historic District, formerly the coal-distribution center for North Adams. This move enabled us to set up more than 25 exhibits on the history of North Adams and to add a science component as well, since this area was settled because of the mountains and streams providing water power to run the mills. A large 3-D topographical map brings to light the inter-relatedness of science and history. Our exhibits document some of the industry such as cotton mills, textile machinery factories, shoe companies and the electronics industry. We are happy to host visitors of all ages to make them aware of the rich cultural heritage of our area, such as in our immigration, religion, farming, politics, military, school and home exhibits. Students particularly enjoy our hands-on sections, Grandma’s Attic and the Science Discovery Room. The barracks room replica from Fort Massachusetts acquaints them with the early 1740’s history, while our Black Light Gallery acquaints them with the modern space age highlighted by the capacitors made locally at Sprague Electric which traveled on NASA flights to the moon. There is also a copy of the disk made at Sprague's on which 75 leaders of countries on earth sent greetings to future visitors to the moon. In addition to volunteer docents giving guided tours we have push-button audio narrations in the barracks room and the Black Light Gallery.