"One City, Many Cultures" Exhibit Project

A woman holding a flag and a child walking in a parade
Parade of Flags at the Lowell Folk Festival

Lowell NPS

Lowell National Historical Park is working with our communities to co-create a new exhibition in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center titled "One City, Many Cultures", which will replace the existing exhibit about immigrants.

This new exhibit will:

· Tell the stories of diverse cultures and cultural changes that have found their place(s) in Lowell and give it its distinctive urban composition.

· Provide a safe, accessible, and high-quality, visitor experience that is audience-centered and relevant to 21st-century visitors, including presently underserved audiences.

· Replaces the current exhibit on immigration installed in 1988

Cultural expression and diversity is a significant part of Lowell’s social history. These concepts continue to be part of the social landscape of the city today. Teaching empathy through raised awareness of cultural diversity and commonality is a compelling need in the world today. Lowell is an ideal location for exploring cultural expression and advocating empathy because it is historically and presently a gateway city for immigrants and refugees whose demographics continue to change. The goal of this project is for visitors to see themselves and better understand others through an interactive, self-directed experience at the park.

People sitting around a conference table discussing an exhibit
A community roundtable meeting

Lowell NPS

A Community-Engaged Process

The Park recognizes that the stories we will be presenting are the stories of the people of Lowell and, in order to have accurate representation, those persons are essential in helping us identify the themes, stories, and presentation of the exhibit. Through inclusive roundtable discussion, people from various walks of life are collaborating with the park to plan and guide this project. Roundtable discussants share perspectives on the themes of the exhibit. During the pre-design stage, those discussions have informed the selection of stories for the exhibit. As the process moves forward, roundtable discussion will also inform planning and design. Participants also serve as ambassadors throughout the city and connect this project with people, their stories, and objects that may convey the themes of the project. The roundtable includes persons with a range of experiences and backgrounds, including scholars of immigration history, civic, and community leaders, and others. The roundtable discussion process enables the Park to direct this exhibit as a community-engaged project.


Thematic Concepts

Exhibition themes and concepts have been synthesized from community roundtable meetings as well as staff feedback, and speak to specific visitor questions about cultural diversity.

1. Mobility and Transition - What are key factors that compel or encourage persons to relocate from their family or place of birth? What are the experiences and perspectives that newly arrived persons engage upon their arrival in new and perhaps very different cities such as Lowell? What struggles did people face when arriving and adjusting to life in a new place? How are these experiences echoed/paralleled throughout history?

2. Building Community - What brings a community together? How do people find a sense of belonging and familiarity? How has the definition of community changed over time?How do issues that communities face (inter- and intra-) impact individuals, the community and city?

3. Cultural Diversities and Commonalities - What are the social qualities of a multicultural city such as Lowell? How have people come together - through time and across great distances - to interact, share experiences, and redefine concepts of ‘us’ and of belonging? How do the specific, universal, and cross-cultural experiences define the Lowell cultural landscape? How are cultural traditions and practices maintained, transformed or abandoned over time?


Project Timeline

Pre-design Stage Fall 2018-Fall 2019

  • Roundtable discussions identified exhibition themes and messaging.

Planning and Design Stage Fall 2019-Summer 2021

  • Roundtable participants and park staff are working with an outside contractor Design Minds to develop and design the specific exhibition.

Fabrication Stage Fall 2021-Fall 2023

  • A contract will be let to fabricate and install the exhibition.

Exhibit Opening By Fall 2023


Upcoming Events

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, public gatherings to discuss this project have been temporarily deferred. We are organizing ‘virtual’ meetings to keep our audiences informed and to solict your input. Please contact the park for information on upcoming virtual meetings.


Get Involved

Interested in learning more about the Cultural Exhibit Project? Contact Kevin Coffee (Kevin_Coffee@nps.gov), Project Manager, to learn more about the project and how you might get involved.

For more information about the Cultural Exhibit Project, please download the Cultural Exhibit Project Brief and the Community Presentation.

A group of dancers perform at the Southeast Asian Water Festival
A group of dancers perform at the Southeast Asian Water Festival

James Higgins

Last updated: January 4, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

67 Kirk Street
Lowell, MA 01852


978 970-5000

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