A Brief History of the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation
In 1980, members of the Waltham community, led by the passionate wisdom of industrial historian Michael Folsom, who would be the Museum's first Executive Director, incorporated the Charles River Museum of Industry.
These cultural, civic, and business leaders believed “that the people of New England deserve[d] a clearer understanding of the region’s rich industrial heritage and the ways that heritage continues to shape their lives.” The founding members wanted a “well-planned and professionally-executed museum,” and believed that incorporating resources for “instruction, recreation, preservation, and research” would go far in achieving their goals.
In 2007, the institution was renamed The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation. The term "innovation" not only relates to the process of creativity and ingenuity that allows for the perfection of machines over time, it also underlines a new mission for the museum: to consider not just the past, but the present and the future. As the museum evolves, so do its goals; as history unfolds, so does the museum's relevance.
In 2018 the Museum unveiled an exhibit on the Boston Associates, America's First Industrial Dynasty. The Boston Associates, so named by 20th century historian Vera Shlakman, were a group of Boston-based businessmen gathered and initially led by Francis Cabot Lowell. Together they founded the Boston Manufacturing Company on our site in 1813 and proceeded to develop the New England textile industry and supporting organizational, financial, and transportation infrastructure until the Civil War.