By From the Lowell Sun
LOWELL -- City leaders who knew the late Paul Tsongas passed his torch to a new generation yesterday morning, commemorating a new permanent exhibit on his life and legacy in the lobby of the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.
"This exhibit will serve as a beacon to enlighten students who didn't know Paul and to get them engaged," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan.
The university took ownership of the facility, formerly named the Tsongas Arena, from the city in February. The exhibit is a way to educate students and the public about the late senator's work.
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas said today's 18-year-olds were only 5 when her husband died.
"This exhibit draws attention way beyond the building to things like generational responsibility, to understand and solve the extraordinary problems we face as a nation," she said.
"I have always felt that the arena has been a positive force in the city's development," said Jack Costello, former chairman of the Arena and Civic Stadium Commission and former editor of The Sun.
Costello conceived the facility's original logo, which featured the Lowell skyline and the arena's façade. A 3-D version of that logo from the marquee sign was presented to Niki Tsongas and Costello.
"A Journey of Purpose: The Paul E. Tsongas Exhibit" is adjacent to an existing Janet Lambert-Moore mural, painted for the opening of the facility in 1997, and includes a bronze plaque summarizing Tsongas' public service and a new wall-mounted display showcasing Tsongas' reach beyond Lowell, both nationally and internationally.
A touch-screen video offers testimony from those who knew Tsongas.
The display panels cover Tsongas' work on public policy as well as his contributions to Lowell.
Local firms Higgins & Ross and DGI-Invisuals designed and built the exhibit, which is free and open to the public.