University of Massachusetts at Lowell professor Robert Malloy believes the region's plastics history should be remembered and on display for all to see.
As chairman of the UMass Lowell Department of Plastics Engineering, he's used historical items as part of his teaching process. Now he's searching for more stuff.
Malloy had a small display at MassPlastics 2009 in Fitchburg in late October. His exhibit included an 1890s mold for a mirror made with the shellac-based material known as Florence compound, and an early set of celluloid billiard balls.
Although the project is still in the formative stages, Malloy said in a recent telephone interview that there is interest and that he's received had some donations of historical items.
The scope of the project could be something like a lobby display or even bigger, he said.
Malloy said items range from molds to machinery and he's considering numerous ways to get the history displayed. He's even talked to local museums to see what interest they might have.
Our intent is to set up a mini-version of the Plastics Museum either on campus or perhaps in conjunction with another museum, he said.
The National Plastics Center in Leominster had historical displays, but closed in 2008. Most of its resources moved to Syracuse University, where some are on display in the library's special collection area, and the rest are in storage.
The UMass Lowell plastics engineering program is 55 years old, so it is only right, Malloy said, that it preserve items that influenced the evolution of plastics.
Anyone interested in loaning or contributing items can send him a note detailing what is available. He is particularly interested in items from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
There will be some sort of museum, he said. I'm committed to this. It's just a question of scale.
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