In 1629, Lynn, Massachusetts—once home to the Pawtucket Indians— was founded on Boston’s North Shore and remained a sleepy, rural village throughout most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Although the first shoemakers in Lynn settled in 1635, it was not until the eighteenth century that shoemaking emerged in the town as a family practice within a shoemaker’s house settled on the grounds of the homestead called the ten-footer. As quality and reputation grew so did the start of the city’s industrial growth which led it into the nineteenth century making Lynn a booming shoe city, a city once called “the greatest shoe town in the country”. Shoemaking had moved from within the small shops of the independent shoemaker to the shoe manufacturing factories that were popping up all over the city. People flocked to Lynn to cobble together a better life in the shoe factories and created a diverse community in which the ideals of enlightenment flourished. By the turn of the twentieth century Lynn had become the largest shoe manufacturing city in the world, and the population had become an energetic and diverse mix of nationalities.
For 123 years, the Lynn Museum & Historical Society has been the repository and custodian of Lynn’s history. With a collection that boasts nearly 10,000 objects, a large archive and a priceless photography collection, the Museum chronicles Lynn’s rise from early American settlement to industrial powerhouse. Founded in 1897 by a group of citizens dedicated to documenting their rapidly changing city and preserving the remnants of Lynn’s colonial heritage, the Lynn Historical Society evolved over a century into the Lynn Museum.
Originally located in a residential building on Green Street, the Museum is now housed in the former Heritage State Park Visitor Center, a unique loft space that reflects the city’s industrial past. Its new home is the ideal setting for the Museum to display its extensive collection of fine art, photography, furniture, textiles, ephemera, archival materials and other authentic artifacts through innovative changing exhibitions. Steeped in Lynn’s rich heritage, the Museum tells the compelling stories of manufacturing, industry, labor, abolitionism, women’s rights and more that have shaped our nation.
In 2014, the Lynn Museum merged with its neighbors on Exchange Street, LynnArts. Offering studio space for contemporary artists and other rental spaces, such as the Neal Rantoul Black Box Theatre, LynnArts is housed in a former banking building. Now undergoing a rebrand to find a common identity on the shared cultural campus, the Lynn Museum/LynnArts is looking forward to the future. With history as our guide we are engaging the region’s ever-changing community through exhibitions and programs that illuminate the past, celebrate the present and inform the future.
Doneeca Thurston, Director
Elena Hirshman-Seidel, Program and Rental Coordinator
Susan Walker, Public Engagement Coordinator
Joseph E. Scanlon III, President
Steven M. Walsh, First Vice President
Michelle Kane, Second Vice President
Gayle Richardson, Trustee
Steven Babbitt, Treasurer
Seth Albaum, Trustee
Joe Boyd, Trustee
Cheryl Crounse, Trustee
Sandra Forziati, Secretary
Susan Keats, Trustee
Iris Kimber, Trustee
Nancy McCarthy, Trustee
Brenda Ortiz-Peral, Trustee
Daniel Richard, Trustee
Pamela Scangas, Trustee
590 Washington Street
Lynn, MA 01901
General Admission: $5.00
Children under 12: Free
Lynn Museum Members: Free
From Route 128/I-95: Take exit 44 B to Route 129 East. Follow Route 129 East to intersection with Boston Street. Turn right on Boston Street. Turn left on Washington Street. Follow Washington Street approximately one mile. The Lynn Museum & Historical Society is located at 590 Washington Street, on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Union Street.
From Route 1A North: Take Route 1A North to Lynn. Turn left on Market Street. Turn right on Broad Street. Turn left on Union Street. Turn right on Washington Street. The Lynn Museum & Historical Society is located at 590 Washington Street, on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Union Street.
From Route 1A South: Take Route 1A South to Lynn. Turn right on Union Street. Turn right on Washington Street. The Lynn Museum & Historical Society is located at 590 Washington Street, on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Union Street.
Parking: Parking is available in the Lynn Museum parking lot accessible from Washington Street, immediately beyond the Museum Courtyard. The Museum entrance is located on the Courtyard side of the building. Street parking is also available.
LynnArts has spaces in the back of the building, clearly marked, in the lot accessible from Spring Street.
Please do not park in the Vamp Building parking lot (across Washington Street from the Museum) as it is resident only parking.
Lynn Museum/LynnArts staff are happy to schedule tours with visitors in advance. Whether it is a general tour of our exhibits or something more personally tailored to your needs and interests, we are flexible and willing to provide the best educational experience!
Please contact Elena Hirshman-Seidel at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 781-581-6200, to discuss details, dates and times, and rates.
Our 590 Washington Street location houses over 12,000 objects related to Lynn’s long and rich history, ranging from historic children’s toys to metal shoemaking machines to landscape paintings. Our collection includes:
● Decorative arts
● Paintings and Prints
● Historical artifacts
● Vintage postcards
● Lynn souvenirs
We have particular strengths in:
● Shoes and shoe-making tools
● Wedding dresses
● Firefighting equipment
● GE memorabilia
● Victorian textiles
● Lydia Pinkham objects
● Abolitionist artifacts
We have partnered with the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum to temporarily house and catalogue our archival collection, which is currently on deposit with the Phillips Library and searchable in their PhilCat Catalogue. Please visit the Phillips Library website for open hours, accessibility details, and to search for Lynn Historical Society archival holdings on the online database PhilCat.
The Lynn Museum relies on generous donations of both funds and Lynn-related objects and archives to strengthen our collection. However, like many museums and historical societies, we have limited space to store new collection donations.
If you are interested in donating objects to our collection, please share any images, object descriptions, and provenance to email@example.com.