Lynn Museum locate In the heart of Lynn’s Arts & Cultural District, the Lynn Museum was founded in 1897 to collect, preserve and illuminate the city’s remarkable history. The museum has evolved into a vibrant cultural center, expanding its footprint to include the LynnArts building at 25 Exchange Street.
The Lynn Museum/LynnArts offers changing exhibitions and innovative youth and adults programs which engage and enrich Lynn’s diverse community. The Lynn Museum encourages active participation in exploring the city’s past while shaping a vision for its future.
In 1629, Lynn, Massachusetts—once home to the Pawtucket Indians— was founded on Boston’s North Shore and remained a sleepy, rural village throughout most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Although the first shoemakers in Lynn settled in 1635, it was not until the eighteenth century that shoemaking emerged in the town as a family practice within a shoemaker’s house settled on the grounds of the homestead called the ten-footer. As quality and reputation grew so did the start of the city’s industrial growth which led it into the nineteenth century making Lynn a booming shoe city, a city once called “the greatest shoe town in the country”. Shoemaking had moved from within the small shops of the independent shoemaker to the shoe manufacturing factories that were popping up all over the city. People flocked to Lynn to cobble together a better life in the shoe factories and created a diverse community in which the ideals of enlightenment flourished. By the turn of the twentieth century Lynn had become the largest shoe manufacturing city in the world, and the population had become an energetic and diverse mix of nationalities.
Grand opening of the Lynn Museum, 1904The museum itself was founded in 1844 by members of the Lynn Conversazione and Society of Arts who wanted
‘the establishment of an institution so well calculated to improve the taste of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, and particularly the rising generation; as well as to afford a source of continued amusement and gratification to those persons who had already paid attention to scientific pursuits.’
The first museum was situated in Welwick House in Union Street, but moved to the Athenaeum in 1854, a purpose built museum and library on the site of the old Post Office in Baxters Plain. In 1904 the museum moved up the road to its present location, the Union Baptist Chapel. Along with the museum’s collections came the fine Victorian mahogany display cases which still line the chapel walls. The new museum opened with great ceremony in 1904.
The chapel, as painted by local artist Henry Baines, in August 1859The Union Baptist Chapel was built in 1859 at a cost of £3,000 by a breakaway group from the local Baptist and Congregational churches called the Union Baptists or “Union Splits.” The schoolroom was added in 1867. The architect Robert Moffat Smith had designed around forty other chapels. He used an “Italianate” Gothic style with an exterior of white and red banded brick. He also created a fine timber roof, which was hidden behind a modern suspended ceiling until 2006. The resulting building was considerably more ornate than most non-conformist chapels:
In 2014, the Lynn Museum merged with its neighbors on Exchange Street, LynnArts. Offering studio space for contemporary artists and other rental spaces, such as the Neal Rantoul Black Box Theatre, LynnArts is housed within a former banking building. Now undergoing a rebrand to find a common identity on the shared cultural campus, the Lynn Museum/LynnArts is looking forward to the future. With history as our guide we are engaging the region’s ever-changing community through exhibitions and programs that illuminate the past, celebrate the present and inform the future.
For 115 years the Lynn Museum & Historical Society has been the repository and custodian of Lynn’s history. With a collection that boasts nearly 10,000 objects, a large archive and a priceless photography collection, the Museum chronicles Lynn’s rise from early American settlement to industrial powerhouse. Founded in 1897 by a group of citizens dedicated to documenting their rapidly changing city and preserving the remnants of Lynn’s colonial heritage, the Lynn Historical Society evolved over a century into the Lynn Museum.
Originally located in a residential building on Green Street, the Museum is now housed in the former Heritage State Park Visitor Center, a unique loft space that reflects the city’s industrial past. Its new home is the ideal setting for the Museum to display its extensive collection of fine art, photography, furniture, textiles, ephemera, archival materials and other authentic artifacts through innovative changing exhibitions. Steeped in Lynn’s rich heritage, the Museum tells the compelling stories of manufacturing, industry, labor, abolitionism, women’s rights and more that have shaped our nation.
“The building will be of a very ornamental character, ecclesiastical in appearance, and differing very materially from any dissenting place of worship in the town.”
Enjoy this delightful museum which tells the story of West Norfolk. Step back in time as you walk into a life size replica of Seahenge. This astonishing Bronze Age timber circle is the museum’s stunning centrepiece. Learn about the people who meticulously crafted the timbers and study the marks left by their bronze axes.
Then discover the timbers as they were found on the beach and find out how this ancient wooden structure amazingly survived for 4,000 years.
Browse around the ‘West Norfolk Story’. Marvel at the Sedgeford Hoard of Iceni gold coins hidden in a cow bone for nearly 2000 years. Imagine being a pilgrim in the thriving medieval port of King’s Lynn or riding on the magnificent gallopers in a Victorian fairground.
Examine the skeleton of an Anglo Saxon warrior and Egyptian Shabti figures. Learn how early people have helped us to write history from their graves.
“Industry & Craft: People At Work In Lynn” explores the different industries of Lynn Massachusetts, and shows that the “Shoe City” has contributed to many revolutionizing inventions and the economy. From early productions such as flax and ice to modern day companies like General Electric, this exhibition displays the artifacts of the Lynn Museum & Historical Society and shares the stories of real people at work in Lynn.
“Collecting For: The Artifacts of Lynn” features highlights from the collection of the Lynn Museum & Historical Society, and information on the history and evolution of this institution. Explore concepts regarding museum collecting from the earliest “cabinets of curiosities” to modern day museums. Spotlights include our Victorian furniture and decorative arts collection, Abolitionism and collecting to preserve the history of social movements, and historic preservation.
“Heartstrings: Embracing Armenian Needlelace, Embroidery, and Rugs.” explores how continuing the tradition of creating intricate needlework helped Armenian women maintain cultural and family ties even amid war and genocide. Come see some examples of this amazing needlework inspired by the stories of Armenian-Americans who have persevered through challenging times, forging exquisite creations born in both triumph and tragedy.
This exhibition features a rotation of images from the Lynn Museum & Historical Society’s photography collection, many of which have never been previously exhibited. Different aspects of Lynn’s history, including daily life, architecture, and events, are highlighted, representing our past, present, and possible future. The pictures seen here are reproductions, enlarged to show detail and scale, and to protect the original photograph from light damage.
The Lynn Theatre: During the 20th century, Lynn was known for many things. Shoes, shopping, diners, and beaches were only some of the highlights. Once home to over a dozen theatres and other places of entertainment, Lynn was the place to see a show. Through our photogrpah collection we preserve the memory of these buildings and the joy they brought to their patrons.
This exhibit includes photographs and ephemera from former Lynn theatres, comfortable seating, and a television to watch a film selected by our curator. We also have a small piano that visitors can play, to entertain other visitors to the museum. This exhibit is permanent, located in our second floor galleries.
The Postcards of Lynn: In the decades around 1900, postcards were social media, they were e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, all wrapped into one. This exhibition provides an extraordinary and nostalgic window into the cultural, social, and architectural history of early twentieth-century Lynn and its vibrant neighborhoods. We invite you to explore this exhibition of vintage postcards depicting some of the city’s famous places and spaces in bygone days. We have postcards available for purchase in our gift shop so you can send your very own! This exhibit is permanent, located in our first floor galleries.
Lynn has a strong history of being the home to amazing individuals, organizations, events, and movements. Click here to see some of those who we have honored in our former Lynn Legacies Hall. This exhibition is now housed exclusively online for our audience to enjoy.