Portuguese Connections

The Portuguese in Lowell: The Familiar and the New

115 John Street - Boott Mills Museum Gallery

June 8, 2024 - February 24, 2025

An exhibit space featuring large panels of text and photographs with labels
Inside the Exhibit

NPS Photo

About the Exhibit

"Each image returns my presence in time, like a mirror that only I can see." - Pedro Letria

A new, temporary exhibit in the Boott Cotton Mills Museum provides an intimate view of Lowell’s Portuguese community as seen through the lens of Lisbon photographer Pedro Letria. His unique vision highlights the rich Portuguese culture and its contributions to Lowell. His work explores the historic neighborhood of Back Central, demonstrating the power of faith, family, and community. Pedro Letria captures the lives of residents through his own experiences in Lowell, connecting the viewer to the community and the history of the Portuguese in Lowell.

The exhibit is located in Boott Cotton Mills Museum, located at 115 John Street. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., visitors can explore this exhibit while visiting the museum. Fees apply.

Free parking is available at 350 Dutton Street, Lowell, MA in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District (HCID) Parking Garage. Please stop at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center or Boott Cotton Mills Museum to have your ticket validated so you qualify for free parking. Expect around 0.5 miles of walking from the HCID Garage to the exhibit. For a fee, street parking and the Joseph Downes Garage are both located closer to the exhibit.


About the Artist

Pedro Letria is self-described as “a Portuguese artist whose work reflects upon issues of displacement and belonging. His use of photography and text are a reflection on how image and language function alone, and, once combined, establish an alternate discourse.” His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and private and public collections. He is the author of eight monographs and has produced works combining written text, photography, and film. He is a Fulbright scholar and holds an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in photography. He teaches at Escola Superior de Arte e Design, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal.

In 2021, he was the Gulbenkian-Saab Visiting Professor in Portuguese Studies at University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where he taught photography. To read more about his time at UMass Lowell, read this article written by the university. For additional information, visit the artist’s website.

A streetscape featuring a long line of cars parked next to residences
20 North Street, November 18, 2021

Pedro Letria

UMass Lowell Back Central Project

The UMass Lowell Back Central Project is an interdisciplinary project led by the Saab Center for Portuguese Studies with support from the Center for Lowell History and UMass Lowell Libraries’ Portuguese American Digital Archive (PADA). It aims to document and collect information on the history, buildings, geography, and people of the Back Central neighborhood. To learn more about the project, visit their website here.

While living in Lowell, Pedro Letria also worked to document the Portuguese American residents of Back Central for this project. He collaborated with Lisbon-based journalist Cláudia Lobo, photographing the subjects of the oral histories she collected. Her interviews, compiled into a video, can be viewed as part of The Portuguese in Lowell: The Familiar and the New.


This exhibit is the product of a collaboration between the Saab Center for Portuguese Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the National Park Service.

The Saab Center promotes the study of Portuguese language and culture in Lowell. Through community programming, Lowell National Historical park promotes culture heritage as an important part of its mission.

Pedro Leitra’s participation in the exhibition was made possible by a generous grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Three logos for the Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, National Park Service, and UMass Lowell

Last updated: June 5, 2024

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67 Kirk Street
Lowell, MA 01852


978 970-5000

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