Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation

Celebrating America's industrial heritage and inspiring future innovation.

"Flying Again - A Pilot's Journey Back to Proficiency"

Bob PerryComment

I was surprised to learn that there are almost as many "lapsed pilots" under the age of 75—about a half-million—as there are active, licensed U.S. pilots, which number over 600,000.

We're excited to be hosting the World Premiere of a new feature-length documentary about the rusty pilots working their way back into the comfort with the special skill set and certification required to fly a plane in America. 

A film any aviation enthusiast would enjoy, Flying Again is inspiring, exhilarating, entertaining, and beautiful.

Please join us at the Museum on Saturday, November 28, 2015—the Saturday after Thanksgiving—for the World Premiere of Flying Again.

This event, which includes a silent auction of valuable aviation-related prizes, and a Q&A with the filmmaker following the screening, is a joint fundraiser for the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation and the Massachusetts Air & Space Museum. 

Tickets are $50 ($45 of which is tax-deductible as a contribution to the Museums, both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations) and include the screening, wine, beer, hors d'oeuvres, and a self-guided tour of the museum.

Museum staff will be present to answer questions about the collection, which includes artifacts from the Metz Company, Charles Metz's eponymous, vanguard Waltham firm that produced all manner of vehicles including bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and airplanes over a century ago. - In fact, in 1911 Charles Metz purchased at auction Waltham's Gore Estate where he built the Waltham Aerodrome and hosted the first airplane meet in New England! 

If you're interested in flying at any level, you don't want to miss this rare and wonderful event!

CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets now!

"Late Night at the Charles River Museum" featuring the Typewriter Rodeo

Bob PerryComment

We're excited to be inaugurating a new tradition of Late Nights at the Charles River Museum on Thursday evening, November 12th, with the Typewriter Rodeo - poets crafting custom poems on vintage typewriters. 

What a great way to scratch your performing arts-and-culture itch in a dramatic industrial Museum setting on the banks of the iconic Charles River!

CLICK HERE to learn more about this event!

Of Looms & Lilies – a modern dance about women, the American Industrial Revolution, and our environment

Bob PerryComment

As the concept for the institution jelled in the late 1970’s, the founders of the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation were driven by the belief that we the people of New England deserve a clearer understanding of our rich industrial heritage and the ways that heritage continues to shape our lives. Located on the banks of Massachusetts’ iconic river, in the last building built by the Boston Manufacturing Company, the first integrated factory in America, they certainly chose the appropriate place to explore and convey that story.

When my colleague Francesca Piper Koss, Curator and Associate Director, began our tenure in June as the new leadership team of the Charles River Museum, we knew that we were assuming responsibility for an institution with an increasingly relevant mission—in a STEM-obsessed world—that is easy to state but challenging to fulfill. Fresh off an adventure of a lifetime, organizing the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival, we began our work at the Museum committed to ensuring that the “A” for Arts would not be neglected while we fulfilled our responsibilities to feature exhibitions of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

In this context, you can imagine our shock and delight when we discovered that a new friend had created a modern dance called “Of Looms and Lilies,” essentially a conversation through dance between 19th Century textile “Mill Girls” and contemporary professional women, and an exploration of the cultural, spiritual, and ecological impact of the American Industrial Revolution.

Here we are, at the very place (and National Historic Landmark) where the American Industrial Revolution began, tending the site that tells the story of that Revolution and its effects on our lives (and our environment, to a limited extent), when lo and behold, Bridgewater State University Professor and Weber Dance Founder and Artistic Director Dr. Jody Weber, who has just managed to tell that story in a radically different medium, suddenly and serendipitously enters our lives.

We invite you to deepen your understanding along with us of our rich industrial heritage and its impact on our lives through an upcoming, one-night-only performance of Weber Dance’s “Of Looms and Lilies.” The performance will take place in the extraordinarily appropriate and intimate setting of the Main Gallery of the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, where we’ll be installing a wood dance floor and arranging limited seating on three sides, with standing room on the Mezzanine above. 

More details on the event, including how to purchase tickets, are AVAILABLE HERE.

Celebrating a sustained effort to save the Charles River Watershed

environment, events, newsBob PerryComment

The Charles River Watershed Association is one of America's oldest watershed organizations. They're celebrating their 50th birthday this year!

The Charles River Watershed Association "uses science, advocacy, and the law to protect, preserve, and enhance the Charles River and its watershed. The organization sees its focus as: developing a sound, science-based understanding of interactions in the watershed; promoting sustainable watershed management practices with government agencies and private entities; and advocating for protection, revitalization, and expansion of public parklands along the Charles River."

Located as we are on the north bank of the Charles River (and eagerly anticipating as this article is being written the opening of the next link in the Charles River Greenway, a dramatic, gorgeous boardwalk in front of the Museum, overlooking the river), we at the Charles River Museum are delighted to have been chosen as the venue for their 50th Birthday celebration!

We encourage you to help sustain the efforts of the CRWA by attending "Champions of the Charles," an elegant evening of cocktails, dinner, live music, and dancing at the Museum on Friday evening, October 2, 2015, beginning at 6:30pm. 

To learn more about the Charles River Watershed Association, their "Champions of the Charles" 50th Birthday Celebration, and to purchase tickets to this great event, please CLICK HERE.

Thank you and see you on October 2nd!

The following video features CRWA Executive Director Bob Zimmerman "describing some of the improvements seen in recent years along the Charles River and some of the challenges still faced by the Charles River communities."

Temporary Exhibit & Artists' Talk: Origami

Bob PerryComment

Ancient Techniques, Modern Interpretations & Innovations in Origami

Lisa Corfman, and Wensdy Whitehead currently have an exhibit of their Origami art on display at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation. It can be viewed in our forwardmost gallery, adjacent to our front door, through Friday, September 4, 2015, just before Labor Day weekend.

My first week at the Museum was a blur; I was doing my best to absorb all I could from my predecessor in our three days of overlap. I have no clear memory of it happening, but origami artists Corfman and Whitehead tell me that that was the week that they—and their friend and colleague, Helen Moy—delivered to another of our departed colleagues at the Museum the samples of their interesting work that are currently on display.

Should you choose to visit and view their exhibition in our forwardmost gallery space, adjacent to our front door, you’ll find examples of traditional origami as well as work using non-traditional, non-paper materials—including computer floppy disk media—origami miniatures, a large format, mixed media origami sculpture, as well as charcoal drawings and the painting pictured below.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Corfman and Ms. Whitehead and discussing their work. They will be delivering a talk about origami on Thursday evening, August 27th, in our main gallery.

Ms. Corfman, a multi-media artist, will offer up a brief history of origami, narrate a slideshow of her interpretive charcoal drawings of origami art, and discuss ways in which she has innovated in origami to extend the traditional artform.

Ms. Whitehead will discuss non-paper folding materials—some of which are are featured in the current exhibit—wet-folding techniques, which is an innovation of modern origami that introduces natural curves to the straight folds, and two of her own design technique innovations, which she calls “Shovel Folding” and “Heart Transplant.” - Shovel Folding she describes as a quick way of thinking about a subset of “box-pleated” design; Heart Transplant she describes as a type of “crease pattern grafting,” but easily accessible without in-depth understanding of grafting design. - These topics explore innovations in origami since World War II.

Miniature fish AND photo credit: Wensdy Whitehead

Miniature fish AND photo credit: Wensdy Whitehead

The schedule for the evening is as follows:

  • 6:00pm - Doors open, guests begin to arrive
  • 6:30pm - Guests are seated; the Talk begins
  • 7:15pm - The Talk ends, followed by a brief Question & Answer period.

The Museum will remain open for visitation and conversation until 8:00pm.

The public is invited to join us on Thursday evening to hear this talk on the ancient techniques, modern techniques, and recent innovations in Origami. Admission is free (a donation is encouraged). Light refreshments will be served.

Temporary Exhibit: Typewriters

exhibitions - temporaryBob PerryComment

A bright and charming young gentleman named Britton Dunn has interned with us at the Museum for the past two summers. He LOVES this Museum, and has had a strong hand in just about everything we've done since Francesca and I began working here in mid-June - including orienting and training US. :-)

I'm sharing this with you now so that you can enjoy SOME of the great fruits of Britton's skilled and passionate labor before he returns to Greensboro, North Carolina and his senior year at Guilford College at the end of next week.

Highlights of our Typewriter Collection

By Britton Dunn, Intern Extraordinaire

July, 2015

Oliver no.9 c.1906

The goal of this typewriter retrospective is to showcase the innovations that moved the typewriting industry forward in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Companies showcased include Oliver, Remington, Royal, Underwood and Smith-Corona.  The exhibit provides insight into how these companies evolved over the 100+ years of typewriter dominated word processing.  


Founded in 1903 as the LC Smith & Bros. Typewriter Company, this company has endured the test of time. Smith-Corona is one of the few companies in this exhibit to still be operating today (though now as a label producer).  Prior to its founding, the LC Smith name had been affiliated with two major companies; The LC Smith Shotgun Company in 1880 and the Smith Premier Typewriter Company in 1887.  In 1905, the company sent a LC Smith & Bros. Model No. 1 typewriter to the reporter's’ office of the New York Herald; where it operated for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next 8 years when it was then used intermittently in other departments for the next ten years.  In 1926, the company merged with the Corona Typewriter Company to form LC Smith & Corona and in 1949 changed its name to Smith-Corona Inc.

An old Smith-Corona electric typewriter magazine advertisement

An old Smith-Corona electric typewriter magazine advertisement


The major innovation of Remington typewriters was their design of the QWERTY keyboard layout in order to slow typists down in order to keep typewriters from jamming; an alphabetical layout had been most common previously.  The QWERTY layout, designed in 1873, is still the standard keyboard layout on tablets and computers today.  

Remington no.10 Standard c.1908


Founded in 1904 in a machine shop in Brooklyn, the Royal Typewriter Company turned to financier Thomas Fortune Ryan to back the production and promotion of their innovative machines.  Breakthroughs included: friction-free, ball-bearing, one-track rail to support the weight of the carriage, a new paper feed, a lighter and faster typebar action, and complete visibility of the words as they are typed.  

Royal no.10 Keyboard c.1934


Founded in 1895, the Underwood Typewriter Company would soon become the largest producer of typewriters in the world. Their production equaled all other typewriter manufacturers in the world combined by the 1920’s.  The factory, housed in Hartford Connecticut, produced on average one typewriter every minute.  Underwood typewriters were favored by such famous authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Jack Kerouac.   

We hope you'll look for the our Temporary Exhibit: Typewriters should you visit in the near future. It will be on display for at least the next several weeks.

Thank you SO much, Britton, for all your hard and good work! The respect and affection you have for the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation has been obvious each and every day. Thank you for showing me the ropes and sharing your knowledge and passion with me. 

We will miss you. 

The Pratt & Whitney Drill Bit Story

oral historyBob PerryComment

One of the things Francesca and I are learning in our early days here at the Museum is that a high percentage of our visitors come with a personal or family history involving industry. - If we're lucky, we get the opportunity to engage them and learn a bit about their history, and perhaps hear a personal story or two.

This gentleman, Dave Crafts, visited the Museum today and told us a delightful story shared with him by his father who was a Pratt & Whitney employee during World War II and in the years that followed.

Dave Crafts, an excellent amateur storyteller, and career engineer.

Dave Crafts, an excellent amateur storyteller, and career engineer.

It's a wonderful, short story that weaves together the challenge to American industry to find new purpose after World War II with the pride of precision craftsmanship, along with a charming act of oneupsmanship!

And thank you very much, Dave, for, kicking off our Oral History Project, which we didn't know we would be undertaking until you gave us a reason!

Envisioning a river... of PEOPLE

news, environmentBob PerryComment

One of the great challenges for this Museum since time immemorial is helping people to find the place! Well, the bike path along the Charles River from Boston all the way out to Nonantum is missing at least one crucial link that's being fabricated now - and it has us very excited!

A section I've taken to calling "The Boardwalk" is currently under construction right outside our front door. It will connect the portion of the bike path that stalls heading westbound from Watertown in "The Chemistry" neighborhood of Waltham on the south side of the Elm Street bridge over the Charles River to the the section that resumes at Moody Street on the north side of the Moody Street bridge over the Charles. 

This photo was taken today just past "quittin' time," looking west and up at our amazing, iconic smokestack. 

We're told "The Boardwalk" will be done and ready to open in about two months, perhaps sooner! - This is going to direct a river of people past our front door, most of whom, we suspect, will be learning where and what we are for the very first time. 

I think it's going to feel like a new dawn. We can't wait! :-)

Jill is blogging!

weddings, eventsBob PerryComment

Jill O'Shaughnessy, our Event Manager, just started a blog on this site about the events we host. Her first post, which went up early this afternoon, was about one of her favorite weddings so far.

Thanks for making the time to share your perspective with us, Jill. We look forward to following your work in the weeks, months, and years to come!

A new beginning

backgroundBob PerryComment

Here at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation we are beginning anew.

We are the new leadership team that took the reins of the Museum in late June 2015. In collaboration with our Board of Trustees, new Executive Director Bob Perry and new Curator and Associate Director Francesca Piper Koss, together with Event Manager Jill O'Shaughnessy, we are crafting a new vision and strategic plan for the modernization and future growth and sustainability of this important cultural institution. 

For the remainder of 2015 we are assessing the current state of affairs at the Museum and beginning the work of bringing all the Museum's stakeholders into alignment with our vision for the institution's future. We see the Charles River Museum representing American Industry and Innovation from the 19th Century through the 21st, representing and celebrating contributions made throughout the Charles River watershed area and the incredibly "fertile crescent" of "America's Technology Highway"—the Silicon Valley of the East—our legendary Route 128.

The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation: We seek to tell the ongoing story of America's Industrial Revolution that began here, at the Boston Manufacturing Company.

We're very much looking forward to engaging with everyone who cares about Waltham, the Charles River watershed, Massachusetts' and American industrial history, education, the arts, and building community.

When you visit the Museum, please introduce yourself. We look forward to meeting you.

Bob Perry, Executive Director
Francesca Piper Koss, Curator and Associate Director