Officials expanding Maine’s only museum focused on the labor and cultural history of Lewiston and Auburn say the new facility should be open in 2025.

Museum L-A is being renamed as part of the effort and will now be known as the Maine Museum of Innovation, Learning and Labor, Rachel Ferrante, the executive director, said Monday.

The museum is currently located at 35 Canal St. in Lewiston, in the former Bates Mill, but plans to move to another former textile plant – the former Camden Yarns, only a few blocks away, at 1 Beech St. near the Androscoggin River. The new location will offer more space for the museum to tell the story of the region’s rich industrial history, Ferrante said.

That means “exhibits, educational programming and events that preserve and celebrate stories of work and the diverse heritage of central Maine,” the museum’s website explains.

A display of a hand-sewing station that was used to make shoes in many of the local shops is part of the new Museum L-A exhibit. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Ferrante said the museum has raised $6 million toward an eventual goal of $17 million. Once they hit $10 million, organizers should be able to start work at the new site. The fundraising effort has been helped by a $500,000 federal matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, announced last month.

The museum, which was founded in 1996 and opened in 2004, has long had the goal of moving to the Camden Yarns site, Ferrante said. The new location is expected to include room for permanent exhibits as well as office and classroom space.


“Ultimately, we want to make the museum a regional icon and cultural designation, and we think the move to this new building will do that,” she said.

The new museum will provide a broader look at the history of Lewiston, Auburn and Androscoggin County, with a focus on innovation, learning and labor, Ferrante said.

“It’s really exciting, and we’re glad to finally be making it happen,” she said.

The effort is now in a quieter phase after an initial spurt of fundraising. Later this spring and summer, Ferrante said the museum will hold events in the community to help raise the visibility of the new museum and spur more funding.

The rest of this year will be devoted to fundraising, she said, and renovations and expansion at the Camden Yarns site, as well as the initial efforts to build the exhibits, should start next year.

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