The Revolving Museum

290 Jackson Street
Lowell, MA 01851

Mission Statement:
The Revolving Museum is an evolving laboratory of creative expression for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities who seek to experience the transformative power of art. Through public art, exhibitions and educational programs, we promote artistic exploration and appreciation, encourage community participation and growth, and provide opportunities for empowerment and social change.

In 1984, artist Jerry Beck launched The Revolving Museum with "The Little Train That Could... Show," an installation in 12 abandoned railroad cars. The public art project marked the beginning of the museum's role as a nomadic institution dedicated to transforming abandoned and or under-utilized public spaces into innovative community arts projects.

These projects fostered a civic dialogue about art, the urban and natural environment, site history, and social concerns and created a sense of community between artists and the public. Projects included a boat ride cabaret and walking journey through a legendary civil war fort on an island in Boston's harbor, an exhibition and performance in a 200 year-old rum factory, a building made entirely of newspaper at a landfill site in Queens, NY, a theater installation in the back of a 24-foot truck that took the public on a midnight ride to see performances in strange locations, and a large-scale public art series responding to neglected spaces surrounding Boston City Hall.

From the success of these public artworks, The Revolving Museum received local and national press coverage leading to the museum's recognition as a pioneer in the field of public art.

In 1988, The Revolving Museum, in collaboration with Space Gallery, began working directly with Boston youth in Off Season, an interactive project inspired by an abandoned baseball field at the Carter Playground in the Lower Roxbury and South End neighborhoods of Boston. During four months of after-school workshops, local youth became active participants in the development and realization of an educational public art project. The students designed interactive exhibits that included a 200 foot-long batting cage, where targets represented issues such as racism, homelessness, drugs, violence and pollution.

In 1992, The Revolving Museum created a series of public art festivals with the overarching title Wonders of the World (WOW). The theme of this series was diversity, and its programs linked artists, youth, community members and social collaborators in the creation of fun-filled and informative festivals. WOW events included: Kid's Carnival, a three-day event involving over 1000 youth and artists working together to create interactive games, sculptural rides, billboard-sized murals and performance art pieces; Pinball ARTcade, a 200-foot high pinball machine environment that stimulated thinking and celebrated community; and the I Scream Art Truck (ISAT), an artistically-transformed ice cream truck that traveled throughout Boston providing several thousand young people with a creative menu of interactive workshops, events and exhibits.

Through these educational programs, youth and community members had the opportunity to work directly with professional artists. Because The Revolving Museum worked primarily with young people from under-served communities with little or no access to the arts, this contact exposed them to new ideas about creative problem-solving, and in addition opened the doors to potential careers in the arts and community service.

In 1996, The Revolving Museum negotiated with the Boston Wharf Company to donate 30,000 square feet of space to the museum. The museum received its tax-exempt status, compiled the first Board of Directors, and developed over 50 affordable artist studios, two galleries, a performance space, a darkroom, an office and a youth workshop area. This new environment allowed the museum to serve as a "laboratory" that provided creative opportunities for artists, youth, and community members. The Revolving Museum expanded its mission by becoming a stable resource for artists, students, cultural institutions, schools, human service agencies, and community organizations. This facility's impact on programming was seen in the array of exceptional visual art exhibitions, fashion shows, film and video presentations, poetry readings, theatre work, multi-media installations, and collaborative public art festivals.

In January 2002, due to Boston Wharf's redevelopment plan in Boston's Fort Point district, The Revolving Museum was evicted from their facility. The many efforts to secure property for local artists within that district were unsuccessful, and many artists and arts organizations were forced out of Boston.
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