A few hundred generous donors and friends of the American Textile History Museum last night gathered to recognize the extraordinary community service and leadership contributions of Brenda Costello. At the same time, the museum marked its first 50 years in the Merrimack Valley.
A good measure of the success of a party is the level of conversational buzz. Last night, the musuem had a loud crowd at the Vesper Country Club along the Merrimack. The annual gala has become one of the region’s better benefit events, and among the crowd were past recipients of the community service award: Nancy Donahue, George and Carol Duncan, Michael Creasey, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and others.
Lowell Nat’l Hist. Park Superintendent Creasey made a bee-line to the event in his veteran Volvo from the Big Apple, where he’s begun his four-month shift overseeing a cluster of Park sites in and around NYC. The night before he’d been at a major event in the Great Hall at Ellis Island. He got out of town as preparations for Sunday’s New York City Marathon were reaching a peak.
Many of the party-goers could not stop smiling about Congresswoman Tsongas’s re-election on Tuesday. They clapped and cheered every time her name was mentioned by the master of ceremonies, museum director Jim Coleman. The Congresswoman was there to present the award to her long-time friend, whose work with Girls Inc., MRT, the $4 million scholarship fund for Lowell High School, and other causes have earned her the enormous respect that led to the evening’s tribute.
Brenda Costello accepted the award in great spirit and much humility, saying she sees herself as a representative of the kind of community-minded people who were gathered around her. She spoke of her deep affection for her native city and urged everyone to help bring along a new generation of leaders and volunteers who will keep the city and its many institutions and organizations moving forward. (I’m glad to add that Brenda is a fellow graduate of the master’s program in Community Social Psychology at UMass Lowell.) She recalled the first grant given from the Women Working Wonders fund at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, a grant to a group of women from the Lowell Transitional Living Center. She said that’s what it’s all about— encouraging and helping people and making life a little better for others.
Before the dinner, a silent auction of an array of goods, services, and experiences drew plenty of bidding. A certain editor was rumored to be working hard to remain the top bidder for a day in Washington, D.C., with our U.S. Representative. I wasn’t there for the final tally on bids. Another hot item was a beach scene painting by Tom Gill, a resident of Western Avenue Studios, and one of the first artists to join the Brush Gallery and Studios in the early 1980s. Several people competed for a Janet Lambert-Moore water-colored print of the museum building.
I mentioned there was a lot of talking. The best gossip item? Don’t ask me who told me, but mega-successful author Dan Brown, who lives on the New Hampshire coast, is telling people that he is back in the writing groove and working on a new book.
Other news, to me, is that the Textile Museum is planning a large Civil War-themed exhibition for 2012 and already has a $70,000 planning grant in play. The staff applied for a $200,000-plus National Endowment for the Humanities grant for exhibit development, which they will hear about in a couple of months. The current Bloomingdale collection haute couture show has bumped up museum visitation considerably. And a new curator will join the museum staff next week.