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Friday, February 26, 2021

Tomaquag Museum gears up to build new site near URI

18 acre site on Ministerial Road will cost $4 million

By Will Collette

G. Wayne Miller recently wrote an interesting piece in the Providence Journal that announced major progress in finding a new home for the Tomaquag Museum.

The Museum is a local treasure of Native American history and culture despite its cramped quarters and out of the way site in Exeter. 

Executive Director Loren Spears, a Narragansett-Ninigret, has been working on a new and improved museum for a long time.

Progressive Charlestown first reported on the effort in January 2015 when Westerly was considered the prime site. Charlestown architectural design firm Oyster Works drew up the master plan for that site.

Miller’s article notes that Tomaquag has now finalized the agreement with URI to use the new 18-acre rural site on Ministerial Road south of Route 138 in South Kingstown.

They are getting design help from RISD and Frank Karpowicz Architects of Wakefield have drawn up the landscaping plan and design of the four new buildings.

According to Miller’s article, the $4 million capital campaign will kick off in the fall (though you can CLICK HERE to give now).

They hope to break ground next year and open in 2023.

I’ve been to the Tomaquag Museum half a dozen times and enjoyed every visit, knowing that I would learn something new every time.

Rhode Island School of Design and the Wakefield firm of Frank Karpowicz Architects on landscaping and design of the four buildings that will comprise the new museum campus. A capital campaign for the $4-million project will begin this fall, with groundbreaking expected in 2022 and opening in 2023.

Cathy and I have also met some great artists during our visits – potters, wood-workers and the amazing Allen Hazard who created museum-quality jewelry from quahog shells.

Here's Loren (center) out on the line along Route 2
Loren is also active in education and public affairs. She has given talks and led workshops for many groups in the area, several of which we have publicized in Progressive Charlestown.

In Fall 2017, Loren was one of the organizers of the first protests in Charlestown against the Invenergy power plant’s now defunct scheme to truck out Charlestown water to supply the plant. She and many other Narragansett Tribe members started Charlestown’s resistance to the broadly reviled plan that was later joined by the rest of Charlestown.

I plan to contribute to the building fund to build a new Tomaquag Museum and I hope you will, too.