Summary of Project
Museum L-A is nestled in downtown Lewiston, Maine, the second largest city in the state. Lewiston, and its neighboring Auburn, experienced a boon in growth during the late 1800s when water power of the Androscoggin River was harnessed and fueled the textile and paper mill industries. Unfortunately, with human impact came ecological deterioration of the River and it was named one of the 20 most polluted rivers in the country and became one of the inspirations for the Clean Water Act. Today, it still faces environmental issues and continues to be environmentally threatened. Around the river is a sea of abandoned mills and a city trying to re-define itself through culture, art and science.
To respond to the history of the region, the Museum began to tell the story of “work and community” in the region. Operating in an old mill building and with a huge collection and little interpretive underpinning, a small staff, and a tight budget, leadership choose to initiate a formal interpretive planning effort, and to identify the location of a new, permanent home. Years later, the museum is well underway with tremendous fundraising efforts, has purchased a new permanent home and is actively engaged in architectural renovations and the final throws of exhibition design.
The promising new future of Museum L-A has largely resulted from the work of the interpretive plan. EXP, as interpretive planners, has spent countless hours working with the museum to pour through its collection, assess the condition and curatorial needs of items, and work closely with staff to research stories and content that the museum might explore through the tighter lens defined by an interpretive plan. In support of this work, we met with numerous community groups to facilitate discussions about the value of different stories and how to connect to the present-day community in order to create relevance to guests. Audience research was performed in two forms: surveys on line and in person, and through focus groups, all led by EXP. The final interpretive plan has been revisited by us and staff throughout the entire design process and today, is defining the architectural, landscape and exhibition approach.
CLICK to see pages from the interpretive plan and the collection