Springfield Museums Press Releases

New Museum of Springfield History to Open October 10

Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

September 24, 2009

The new Museum of Springfield History will open to the public on Saturday, October 10, at 11 a.m. The 40,000-square-foot museum highlights Springfield’s rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Opening day festivities will include the “History on the Move” antique car and motorcycle show on the museum grounds, a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m., tours of the new museum, car and bicycle demonstrations, and children’s activities.


·         Exhibits in the new museum include: 

  • The city’s role in transportation innovation featuring:
  • More than two dozen Indian Motocycles and related memorabilia
  • An original copy of the 1893 Springfield-built Duryea, the first successful gasoline-powered automobile
  • A three-wheeled Knox, Springfield-built Rolls-Royces, and other automobiles
  • The development of the country’s first motorized Fire Department and first Police Department to use motorcycles
  • Gee Bee (Granville Brothers) aircraft and memorabilia
  • The growth of public transportation, including trains, trolleys and buses
  • The impact of the automobile on American life


·         Springfield’s development as a precision manufacturing center arising out of the skilled labor force attracted to the region by the United States Armory and the arms industry


·         How the four years John Brown lived in Springfield influenced his dedication to the abolitionist cause


·         The history of arms-making in the Pioneer Valley, including a large selection of firearms and related objects manufactured by Smith & Wesson


·         The economic and social conditions that led to the development of nationally known businesses such as:

  • Milton Bradley games
  • Merriam-Webster dictionaries
  • W.F. Young Company (Absorbine Jr.)
  • Breck Shampoo, and others


·         The growth of downtown as the thriving retail, cultural and commercial hub of the region


·         The history and contributions of Springfield College, including the birth of basketball, the college’s connection to the YMCA, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit in 1964


·         Additional features of the museum include:

  • The Springfield History Library and Archives which contains 2.5 million manuscripts, 50,000 photographs, 30,000 books, thousands of reels of microfilm, and computer databases for researchers and family genealogists
  • A History Theater to show historical documentaries and present educational programs
  • A visitor orientation area with space for changing exhibitions


The creation of a new Museum of Springfield History has been a long-term goal of the Springfield Museums. In 2005, just two months before his death at the age of 102, M. Allen Swift of West Hartford, Ct., donated $1 million to purchase the former Verizon office building across the street from the Springfield Museums campus to create the new museum. Mr. Swift also donated his single-owner, Springfield-made 1928 Rolls-Royce. A dramatic, three story Great Hall addition with a copper-clad, barrel-vault roof has been added to the original building.


Additional funding to complete the museum has been raised through a combination of public and private sources, including city, state and federal grants, charitable foundations, corporate contributions, and private donations.

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