Museum L-A elects officers at annual meeting

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LEWISTON — Museum L-A’s board of directors, staff and guests gathered recently at the Hilton Garden Riverwalk in Auburn for its 2009 annual meeting and dinner. Among the guests for the evening were Sen. Susan M. Collins and Rep. Michael H. Michaud.

Museum L-A founder Elliott Epstein presented Collins with a framed print for her office from the museum’s “Work Art” series based on original drawings from the Bates Design Department. She also had the opportunity to view preliminary designs for the redevelopment of the Camden Yarns Mill site as Museum L-A’s future home.

In her remarks, Collins praised Museum L-A’s efforts to preserve the history of Lewiston-Auburn through the stories gathered in its Workers Oral History Project. Collins attended the opening reception for the special millworkers exhibit, which was based on oral histories.

Commenting on Museum L-A’s plans for the future, Collins said “I believe the best is yet to come. The effort to restore the Camden Yarns Mill is a monumental task… it will preserve a vital piece of history and enhance the riverfront development that I know is so important for the future of this community. I have worked very hard along with Mike Michaud to secure funding this year.”

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In his remarks, Michaud also complemented the museum’s efforts to preserve the heritage of the area. He stated that he looks forward to continuing to work with the museum and ended with “keep up the good work.”

Newly-elected board chairman Ed Cormier honored Epstein and past vice-president Alan Elze for their dedication, both since 1996, in preserving artifacts and archives from the industrial history of the Twin Cities and sharing them with the public through Museum L-A’s exhibits and programs.

In his remarks, Epstein recalled his early years with Museum L-A when “we had no collection, no money, no physical location and no visibility – just an idea.”

He said that through the hard work of staff, volunteers and board members “we have acquired an excellent temporary location, are working on a permanent home, have developed the nucleus of a quality collection, have high visibility in the community and have developed innovative programs and exhibits which have attracted regional and even national attention.”

Epstein envisions the museum becoming a “think tank” where the lessons of history are applied to the future.

The board also elected a new slate of officers as well as voted in five new members. Cormier is now chairman of the board of directors with Dennis Barriault as vice chair, Timothy Dean as treasurer and Stephanie Upton as secretary.

Joining the board are: Christine Bosse, JoAnne Campbell, John Cleveland, Richard Courtemanche and Gerard Dennison.

Rachel Desgrosseilliers, the museum’s executive director, included two audio-visual pieces in her report to the group. A time-stamped series of photos showing the Cowan mill burning served as a sobering reminder of how precious and fleeting historical treasures can be. It also served to show that Museum L-A is not just about the history of the past but is also recording and keeping the history that is happening now.

Desgrosseilliers noted that bricks salvaged from the Cowan Mill’s outer walls will be incorporated into the new Museum L-A.

A musical slide show created by volunteer Ray Michaud and museum archivist Susan Beane highlighted exhibits, programs, meetings, special events and volunteer activities taking place since the previous annual meeting. Statistics demonstrating the museum’s accomplishments were also shared with the group.

The evening ended with a presentation sharing preliminary design concepts under consideration for the building and grounds of the revitalized Camden Yarns Mill site as the future home of Museum L-A. The pre-design phase of the project is focusing on the building’s proximity to the Androscoggin River, Simard-Payne Police Park and the downtowns of Lewiston and Auburn.

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