Museum of Science Receives $5M State Grant; Boston Museums Leap Forward; What Does This Mean for Lowell? reports that the Museum of Science in Boston received a $5 million state grant to develop “a spectacular exhibit” on the theme of life sciences, specifically, human biology. This is good news for the state and our region. Read the Globe’s Colin Young’s article here.

On top of the recently expanded Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the vastly improved Museum of Fine Arts, this news about the Museum of Science makes clear that the Boston museum cluster intends to compete aggressively for audiences in the region and nation, as well as from around the world. These institutions are a great asset for us in the Merrimack Valley who can get to them easily.  What will it mean, however, going forward for the network of small to mid-sized museums in Lowell? Will Boston-area residents and visitors be inclined to explore the museums of Lowell when so much is available right there? The still-new Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is another major draw.

We  have the largest industrial museum in the National Park system (Boott Cotton Mills), a distinctive Quilt Museum, Whistler’s birthplace combined with an art gallery, the American Textile History Museum, a streetcar/trolley museum, and the preserved historic and canal district downtown and connecting to the Merrimack River that has the character of a museum without walls. Should these attractions be bundled more closely and promoted as a unified experience in order to compete more effectively with the scale of the museum resources in Boston?