Mass MoCA Sprague Electric Site, Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) is among the largest museums in the world, with 26 buildings on 16 acres, and galleries the size of football fields. Located in the remote western Massachusetts town of North Adams, the museum has taken over the rambling mill complex previously occupied by the Sprague Electric Company. After the textile mills closed, Sprague became the big industry in North Adams, starting in World War Two, when the company designed and produced everything from gas masks and bomb casings, to components for both the VT proximity fuse and the atomic bomb. Sprague went on to become a major electronics R&D center over the ensuing decades, and at its peak - employed over 4,000 people at the North Adams site. Despite Sprague's military-grade components finding their way into the guidance, launch, and control systems of the Minuteman ICBM, Apollo and Gemini spacecraft, and the Space Shuttle, as well as in consumer electronics, ultimately Sprague had trouble adapting to changes in the semiconductor marketplace, including having to compete with cheaper products produced offshore. In 1985, Sprague ceased operations at the North Adams complex.