The Higgins Armory Museum will be closing its doors forever on December 31. This quirky, unique institution has been a staple of the New England museum scene for over eight decades, long enough to have impacted generations of visitors. There is not another institution like it in the entire country nor is there likely to be another for the foreseeable future. It is a sad event and one to which other New England museums large and small should pay attention.
|John Woodman Higgins|
|Higgins's Glass and Steel Wonder under Construction|
|© Frank H. Jump|
The good news is that John Higgins's beloved collection is staying in Worcester and plans are already well developed for its integration into the collections and interpretation of the Worcester Art Museum. Both institutions are trying hard to make this transition as transparent as possible and you can read more about this here. What fate awaits the building itself is, as yet, unclear.
Museums are expensive and the days of depending on a single or small group of benefactors are largely over. At the same time, I believe that museums are important and worth the expense. What will be the new philanthropic model that sustains these institutions for the next eight decades? Museum directors across the country are struggling to find out. The passing of the old model does, I think, spell the end of a certain kind of American museum and as I walk through Higgins's soaring great hall, I can't help but muse, alas I live in modern times...