In the 1960’s, plastics engineer Gordon B. Lankton went to work at Nypro, an international injection molded plastics company, in Clinton, Massachusetts and eventually became president. In 1989, on a business trip to Russia, Mr. Lankton purchased his first icon at an open-air market. His collection quickly grew, and eventually gave birth to the idea of starting a museum. Mr. Lankton chose Clinton for the location to give back to the community that had supported him.
The Museum is housed in a 150-year-old former mill building. A contemporary, aluminum-clad addition to the mill building accommodating the South Gallery, Library and offices was completed in 2008. The adjacent 150-year-old former courthouse and police station with holding cells was acquired in 2010 and renovated to provide additional gallery space, a terrace with a green roof, a tea room, and performance facilities accommodating lectures and concerts. Three floors of galleries display the permanent collection. A dedicated gallery features special exhibitions ranging from contemporary Russian art to icons from other Orthodox cultures. It is the only museum in the USA dedicated to Russian icons, and the largest collection of icons outside of Russia.
The Museum of Russian Icons inspires the appreciation and study of Russian culture by collecting and exhibiting icons and related objects; igniting the interest of national and international audiences; and offering interactive educational programs. The Museum serves as a leading center for research and scholarship through the Center for Icon Studies and other institutional collaborations.