Heritage Museums & Gardens 1908 Looff carousel will be honored by The National Carousel Association (NCA) in a ceremony next week. The NCA leadership will present a plaque to Jennifer Madden, Heritage’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions next week. Madden will accept the honor on the Museum’s behalf for its commitment to preserving, restoring, maintaining and operating this classical carousel.
“This is such a wonderful honor,” said Heather Mead, Interim Executive Director. “This carousel means so very much to us, our visitors and the community at large. Be they young or older, the carousel has always contributed to lifelong memories for those that visit Heritage and, truly, the honor has been ours to not only care for but preserve this wonderful iconic American treasure.”
NCA co-chairs, Jim and Jackie Shulman, are excited to be returning to Heritage where the organization held their first convention in 1972.
“The National Carousel Association congratulates Heritage Museum & Gardens for its excellent job in maintaining and supporting this historic carousel in its ongoing operation,” said Jim Shulman. “It is a work of art for which Heritage Museum & Gardens and the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts can have tremendous pride.”
At one time over 3,000 wooden carousels were created by master craftsmen and artisans from Europe. Today, roughly 170 of these carousels remain intact and continue to operate.
The first firm in America to manufacture carousels in any significant quantity was established by Gustav Dentzel, about 1865. Eventually many other companies began to manufacture carousels in America, including the maker of the Heritage carousel, Charles I.D. Looff.
Recent research has turned up information about the early history of the Heritage carousel. It was purchased from the Looff factory in Riverside, RI for an amusement park in Meridian, Mississippi. One family owned and operated the carousel at their park for three generations. The carousel was eventually sold in 1968, through the Bourne Auction Company to museum founder Josiah K. Lilly III. Lilly saw the potential of this carousel, and purchased it to serve as the signature piece in the American art museum he was constructing. The carousel remained in storage for four years, as a new building with a tent-like rotunda was constructed specifically to house this carousel. The new building and feature carousel opened in 1972, providing an additional attraction for visitors coming to Heritage.
The Looff carousel at Heritage Museums & Gardens has been receiving tender loving care for over forty years.
NCA plans to visit thirteen original hand-carved carousels in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, plus two new carousels and three museums/collections during their convention in September.
For more information about the convention, please check out the NCA website at www.carousels.org.