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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.   


1980 - The Charles River Museum of Industry is incorporated.

1988 - We open our doors.