A Museum in a Mold Shop?

A passion for the plastics industry led to a passion for Russian Art.

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Home page for the Museum of Russian Icons, founded by plastics industry icon Gordon B. Lankton of Nypro Inc.

 

One of the nicest side benefits of traveling to visit mold shops for my work is learning about more than just the shop. I really enjoy getting to know the people who work there and their passions beyond moldmaking and engineering pursuits. For instance, not too long ago I wrote about a moldmaker who manufactures steel guitars as a hobby, and I wrote about “Marathon Mike”, a moldmaker who ran a marathon in every U.S. state.

Well, I just returned from Boston yesterday, where I visited NyproMold in Clinton, Massachusetts, and was reminded about something very interesting regarding Gordon B. Lankton, plastics engineer and industry icon who led Nypro’s global injection molding operations as president since purchasing the entire company in 1969 (he first joined Nypro as co-owner and general manager in 1962). He found a passion in collecting Russian icons. An icon is an image of a religious figure, or sometimes a religious event, that is created by painting planks of wood or other medium. They are considered sacred to the Orthodox church.

According to Ghassan Aswad, business unit director at NyproMold, Mr. Lankton, who is a seasoned world traveler, found his rather unique passion for collecting Russian icons when he traveled to Russia on business for Nypro in 1989. Aswad told me that Lankton bought his first icon at a Russian flea market and the collection grew from there. Nypro was doing business in Russia and that gave Lankton the opportunity to search for more iconic treasures while also building Nypro into a billion-dollar company. He also said the first “museum” displaying many of Lankton’s icons was located just off one of the vestibules of the NyproMold building and it was there for several years. Aswad worked closely with Mr. Lankton while he was still actively involved at Nypro, and he helped him move his expanding collection of icons from the NyproMold plant to a building located behind it that would become a full-fledged museum open to the public. “The collection outgrew the room here at our facility,” Aswad said. “So Gordon purchased this 150-year-old building that once housed a mill to house his extensive collection. I remember helping him load the icons into a truck and transporting them to the new building. There were so many and I highly recommend visiting the musem to anyone who visits Clinton.”

Today, Mr. Lankton’s collection comprises more than 1,000 icons and his is the only museum in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to Russian icons. Aswad told me that a modern addition was added to the old mill building in 2008, and the museum was expanded again in 2010 when the adjacent building to the mill (also 150 years old and formerly a police station and courthouse) was acquired. Mr. Lankton is still very involved with the operations of the museum and can be seen checking on everything very early each morning. To love one’s industry as he obviously does (Lankton has been inducted into the International Plastics Hall of Fame; he has received several lifetime achievement awards from plastics industry organizations like SPE and SPI, among other organizations) and to find one’s passion in art as he has is incredibly interesting to me. Visit the website for the Museum of Russian Icons here

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