Showcasing Our Industry’s Past and Future, you need to visit The Plumbing Museum, dedicated to the history, progression, and advancements made in our industry, the plumbing trades. There’s a museum dedicate to nearly everything under the sun, why not for plumbing? After all, where would we be in the world without the health benefits of clean water and proper sanitary systems?
Located in Watertown, Mass., it began back in 1979 when Russell Manoog took his father’s vast collection of antique plumbing products to start the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum. It has since gone over several transformations. Under the direction and vision of J.C. Cannistraro, along with the operational help of the Plumbing & Heating Contractors Association of Greater Boston, the Plumbing Museum was substantially upgraded in 2007 within a stunning, fully renovated ice house.
Plumbing Perspective reached out to Linda Veiking at The Plumbing Museum to discuss its history and role in the industry. “The museum is dedicated to the heritage of the plumbing industry and is driven by its mission to educate generations young and old about work in the trades. There is no other Plumbing Museum in this country, and I don’t believe there is another in the world that I am aware of.” Said Linda. The Plumbing museum is a great place for young people to learn about the importance of sanitation and the need for people in the trades. There is a growing shortage of young people entering the trades to become skilled plumbers and the museum is a great bridge to help encourage and inspire children and even young adults to enter the trades to become a plumbing professional.
The museum’s traffic has steadily increased over time being featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal in December 2013, local TV in Boston, and will be featured in an upcoming episode of “Mysteries at the Museum” on the Travel Chanel. The museum not only receives plumbers and tradesmen from all over the country, they are regular hosts to “Technical High Schools, senior citizen groups, elementary schools, and the Cub Scouts.” added Veiking. In addition, “We have hosted many corporate meetings, baby showers, wedding showers, birthday parties, holiday parties and believe it or not we have had 3 weddings here.”
The nostalgic atmosphere of the museum showcases items from the eighteenth century including a washdown flush toilet, a Kohler electric sink, and a vintage earth closet. “Some artifacts are from the 19th century right up to today’s modern toilet that I say “does everything but cook your supper for you.” Adds Veiking. There’s a unique library full of educational and entertaining books, catalogues, and trade journals throughout the history of the plumbing trades.
The Plumbing Museum is greatly supported by multiple private and corporate sponsors such as the Kohler family. “We held a gala three years ago and picked three of the High Schools that came to visit and asked their teachers to make a “Wish List” of things they would like in their classroom that the schools were just unable to buy for them. Through our sponsors and vendors, we were able to fulfill all the items that these teachers had on their lists. We were also able to contribute money to “Building Pathways”, a pre-apprentice school for the trades. You should have seen the look on these kids’ faces when we brought these modern up-to-date tools and machines for them to work with. It was just heartwarming.” Said Linda. “We will be hosting another gala in 2017 and again, pick three different schools to help through our various sponsors and vendors.”
Future growth is still anticipated for the museum. “We are now planning an exhibit about the “Importance of Sanitation”, not only in our county but for countries around the world. There are 2.6 million people in this world today without any sanitary means and it’s 2016!” Said Veiking.
They also recently launched the Manoog Family Artist in Residency Program, a new cultural initiative designed to support careers in both the arts and trades. The program provides artists with the financial and physical resources needed to explore the relationship between art and industrial technology. Named after the founding family of the Plumbing Museum, the Manoog Family Artist in Residency Program offers artists the opportunity to harness their passion and creativity to produce meaningful artwork, develop their skills and give back to the community, all within the space provided by the Plumbing Museum and its partner organization J.C. Cannistraro. By the end of each residency, artists will develop lasting artwork for themselves, the museum, and the community. It helps the museum fill its mission of building awareness for the plumbing industry.” Artists are provided with full access to studio workspace, fabrication and welding resources, materials and a cash award.
So the next time you are in the Boston area, make sure you check out The Plumbing Museum. It’s a key piece in the history and future of or industry. It’s available seven days a week for events and group visits. Contact Linda Veiking at 617-926-2111 to plan your next visit.