The New England Wireless and Steam Museum, founded by Robert and Nancy Merriam, is an electrical and mechanical engineering museum emphasizing the beginnings of radio and steam power. The museum honors engineers who achieved greatness and served the public good by analyzing and solving tough engineering problems. The museum is both archival and educational.
In 1875 Rhode Island was the world center of the stationary steam industry. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) the New England Wireless and Steam Museum has the finest collection of Rhode Island made engines, together with the finest collection of original stationary steam engine drawings.
This museum preserves the original Massie coastal wireless station which was moved from Point Judith, Rhode Island. This station, built in 1907 to communicate with marine shipping, is the oldest surviving, originally equipped wireless station anywhere. It symbolizes the very start of the electronics industry—a Plymouth Rock of the radio, TV, cellphone, satcom, Internet, computer, CATscan and all the other marvelous creations of electrical engineering. The significance of the Massie station is enormous.
The museum’s assembly hall is an 1822 neo-classic New England meeting house which, like the Massie station, was moved here to be saved from demolition. This charming building is available for weddings, christenings, club functions, corporate presentations, etc.
The museum shows rare early radio and steam apparatus—much in working order. Keeping these things working and demonstrating them is part of our mission.
- Preserve historically important engineering artifacts, books, and buildings emphasizing the generation which began with the founding of the ASME and the AIEE – now IEEE.
- Honor great mechanical and electrical engineers.
- Urge the teaching of engineering and science by reason, not by rote.
- Promote enthusiasm for math and physics, and excite an urge to find out why!
- Instruct and enlighten by doing these things.