Heritage museums open with answers on how

A dazzling array of historical artifacts, videos, photographs and hands-on exhibits will help Heritage Museums & Gardens show how Cape Cod transformed from what Henry David Thoreau called “a Yankee backwater” in the 1850s into the main tourist destination it is today.

This “Creating Cape Cod” exhibit will headline the entire new season, which begins Saturday as the 100-acre Sandwich site heads toward restoring a full range of pre-pandemic activities. Heritage, which in the past typically attracted more than five million visitors per season, will also offer many familiar and popular annual programs throughout the season.

Poster of one of the first images of tourism in the "Creation of the Cape Cod exhibition" at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich.

The major new exhibit will highlight “the many forces and dynamics” that have made the tourism industry exist here, said President and CEO Anne Scott-Putney. The exhibit traces the Cape’s transition from a peninsula where indigenous peoples lived for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, and which in the 1800s became a popular destination for anglers and hunters, who often employed Wampanoag guides.

Sweeping changes followed the arrival of the railway in 1848, and vintage photographs, timetables and artefacts trace the impact of the railway first at Sandwich and then reaching Cape Point in 1887.

Railroad whistles and conductors’ voices invite visitors to sit in a reproduction of the 19th century ‘lounge car’, part of the historic ‘Dude Train’, a luxurious private train chartered by many wealthy businessmen who wanted a comfortable and convenient way to travel to and from Boston. The train collected these executives from Woods Hole and stations along the line to Wareham, taking them into town for work and then back to Cape Town in time for dinner. (“Dude” was the term used at the time to describe “a fashionable man”.)

Island Film Studio:Nantucket is used to tell a Revolutionary War story with Vermont roots. here’s how

The late 19th century welcome mat made possible by the railway was at first limited to affluent, mostly Protestant, white visitors who flocked with their families to the upscale hotels and lodgings opening up across the Cape – illustrated in the vintage photos and brochures that have attracted these vacationers.

An early description included in the heritage exhibit is of the Checkesset Inn in Wellfleet, which even in the late 1800s had electricity. Its owner, a devout Methodist named Lorenzo Dow Baker, felt that his equally devout guests should retire at a presentable hour and turn off the power each evening at 10:30 p.m.

This 1946 Mercury is among the cars on display as Heritage Museums & Gardens explores the early days of tourism on Cape Cod.

How cars changed everything

Cape Town’s landscape was forever altered by the advent of the automobile in the early 20th century, which quickly opened up travel opportunities for people of diverse economic means. “Creating Cape Cod” exhibits spread from the Special Exhibits Gallery to the Heritage Auto Gallery, where visitors can see examples of the iconic vehicles that have become the hallmark of the new automotive culture, including the Buick wagon.” Woodie” from 1945 and a Ford from 1965. Country squire.

Waiting for the next big wave, surfboards from the 1930s and 1960s, placed near a rare 1932 Beetle Cat sailboat with its distinctive gaff rig. Lent to the car gallery is a 1930 Curtiss Aerocar trailer, a precursor to today’s recreational vehicles, hitched to a vintage 1929 Packard with canvas roof.

Auto travel has also flourished for people of different ethnicities. Heritage has partnered with SmokeSygnals, a local Wampanoag-based marketing and communications firm, to showcase the history of Cape Cod travel for people of color, including its expansion from the 1930s to the 1960s, as shown postcards of the day and advertisements from Ebony magazine. . There is also the famous Green Book and other travel guides that directed people of color to cabins, restaurants and hotels where it was deemed safe for them to stay.

The 1954 edition of the Black Travelers Green Book was a guide to the friendliest and safest places for people of color, including on Cape Cod.  It is on display as part of a new exhibition at the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich.

After World War I, businesses saw an opportunity to make (Cape Cod) “a more economically viable place,” says Scott-Putney. The new Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce embarked on a massive marketing campaign, essentially making up the images that have become hallmarks of an iconic cape marked by sand dunes and “quaint little villages”.

In Boston:The Story of The Temptations: Electric Singing and Dancing Make Up for Cliché ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ Script

A sizable section of “Creating Cape Cod” describes exactly what was created: from souvenir spoons, aprons, tea towels and postcards to an ever-expanding entertainment market that included classic venues like the Cape Playhouse, the Cape Cod Melody Tent and jazz clubs. And there was this hit song by Patti Page – listen to the show.

Local nightclubs became popular destinations, including the famous Joe’s Twin Villa in Osterville, owned by generations of the Joe Gomes family, and built-in – a rarity in the mid-20th century. The villa’s jukebox is on display, along with a video interview with Cape Town artist Joe Diggs, a grandson of Gomes.

Other videos feature voices from the Cape Wampanoag community, including tribal member and singer Earl Mills Jr., describing the impact of tourism on the tribe’s ancestral lands; and an interview with a relative of 1950s-1960s “Princess Evening Star” entrepreneur Gertrude Haynes Aikens, who offered “Indian programs” from her home in Mashpee and told stories about “Pilgrim Hosts.”

The possibility of bathing on the beaches attracted tourists at the beginning of the 20th century, as this photo of the "Creation of Cape Cod" exhibit at Heritage Museums & Gardens.

More than history

The exhibition ends with the present and the growing question of the sustainability of what has been built. Jennifer Madden, the show’s curator, points to a video that visitors can turn on to provide projected climate changes for any area on Cape Cod, along with maps and charts outlining climate change mitigation efforts. water, waste and ongoing pollution.

According to Scott-Putney, the show offers a “holistic and comprehensive” look at these issues, including information dating back to the 1950s that raised similar sustainability issues. “Seventy years later, we’re still on the same subject,” Madden says.

At Yarmouth Harbour:Urban myth debunked? Artist Edward Gorey’s ballet fandom is at the center of the museum’s new exhibition

Many communities shared their stories in the exhibit. More than 35 individuals, organizations, museums and historical societies loaned materials for display, with more than 50 items from the Nickerson Archive at Cape Cod Community College alone, according to Madden.

Also at Heritage this season, starting May 20, six large-scale outdoor sculptures by five Northeastern artists will be on display: “Treasured Trash” installations created from recycled and repurposed materials. The facilities emphasize the waste management and pollution issues facing Cape Town.

The Run for the Rhodies 5K Trail Race returns on May 28 and the annual outdoor Heritage Car Show celebrates its 50th anniversary on June 11, with special guests from the National Woodie Club showing off their classic station wagons. Other events will include the annual outdoor rhododendron (May 20-30) and hydrangea (July 8-17) outdoor festivals, Wampanoag Heritage Day (July 30), and ongoing exhibits in the Automotive Gallery.

Heritage Museums and Gardens Times, location, ticket prices

Hours: 10am-5pm daily (with occasional longer hours) Apr 23-Oct. 16

Or: 67 Grove Street, Sandwich

Admission (advance reservations recommended, walk-in available depending on available space): $20; 3 to 17, $10; free up to 2 years

Tickets and information: https://heritagemuseumsandgardens.org; information only: 508-888-3300

Comments are closed.