Cape Cod Museums: ‘We’re Open!

Anne Scott-Putney, president and CEO of Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich wants the public to know that the hydrangeas are in full bloom at Heritage Museums & Gardens.

“It’s high season!” she said this week, with enthusiasm. “The hydrangea are spectacular right now.”

Hydrangea Fest credit Ben Hughes
A hydrangea blossoms at Heritage Museums & Gardens. Photo by Ben Hughes

Nature, after all, has continued to function despite the worldwide pandemic that has affected human life in so many ways.

Every summer, the hydrangea display at Heritage is a high point of the Capewide Hydrangea Festival ( under way this week and it’s an opportunity for people who have been sheltering in place for months to get outdoors, albeit with face coverings and social distancing.

Heritage’s renowned grounds and gardens have been opened since June, but this month, like other museums, they are reopening  indoor spaces, too, as Phase 3 in the governor’s reopening plan gets under way. Scott-Putney says admission is limited (make reservations online at  Indoor spaces are clearly marked by signage and while some exhibits designed to be hands-on have had to be altered, she feels the 2020 exhibits remain as engaging and educational as were their pre-pandemic intent. Among the new exhibits are “‘Our’ Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History,” a nod to this year’s 400th anniversary year of the Mayflower landing, but told from the Wampanoag perspective; “New England Toy Stories,’ about toy manufacturing, and “How Automobiles Transformed America,” set in the popular J.K. Lilley III Automobile Gallery.

“I overhead one person say, ‘I feel safe bringing my mother here,'” Scott-Putney said. “People know they can be spread out here and feel comfortable and safe,” as the expansive grounds allow for easy social distancing.

Heritage’s web site has been redesigned with banners for each section that note if a gallery is open or not, and when it possibly might be, as well as what’s expected from visitors.

Heritage’s visitor turnout has been good, Putney-Smith says, despite everything required of a visitor these days.
“We have been so delighted that people are coming and that they are so compliant,” she said.

Cape Cod Museum Of Art

Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis reopened by limited admission last Saturday, July 11. Face coverings are required for all employees, volunteers and visitors. Social distancing is implemented in the galleries, guided by signage to regulate traffic flow. A number of sanitation measures have been instituted, including cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas at regular intervals. The museum also installed an ultraviolet in-duct air purification system.

A Plexi shield barrier has been installed at the reception desk and Museum Shop desk. Admission and purchases are by credit card only.

The lower level of the museum, including the Screening Room, will remain closed for now. Tour groups have been canceled until further notice as are docent-led tours. For more information, visit

The museum’s Executive Director Benton Jones curated a new exhibit called “Gatherings,” with many works from the permanent collection that reflect upon the ways people used to socialize.

Vernon Smith
“Beach at Nauset” by Vernon Smith, part of the “Gatherings” exhibit now on view at Cape Cod Museum of Art.

“Gatherings can take on many forms as the showcased artists help us remember,” he explained. “It can be expresses in a typical Cape Cod crowded scene of parades and garden parties as in ‘Wellfleet, Fourth of July’ by Karol B. Wyckoff and ‘CMFA (Art in the Garden)’ by Ruth Hogan or ‘The Garden Party’ by Ric Howard, as well as through images of summer time beaches captured by Vernon Smith in his oil painting ‘Beach at Nauset’ or Arnold Geissbuhler’s ‘Girls on Beach.’

“Gatherings can be a group of people living through the shared experience of music and dance in ‘Dancing Figures’ by Howard Gibbs; ‘Jazz Rhythms’ by Virginia Goldman, and ‘Dancers’ by Xavier Gonzales;  people enjoying meals together as in ‘What’s for Dinner’ and ‘Sharing Recipes’ by Eleanor Ferri Jones. It can be a city scene like ‘The Boston Crowd’ by Howard Gibbs or 1930’s ‘New York in Bread Line, No One Has Starved’ by Reginald Marsh, where  people line up closely together to receive food during the Depression.”

Cahoon Museum

The Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit has decided to reopen on Aug. 1 on Saturdays and Sundays and visitors will be admitted free during the entire month of August, thanks to the Highland Street Foundation’s generosity.

Cahoon will limit the number of visitors visitors through a timed admission system, with advance registration encouraged. ( Face coverings are required of employees, volunteers and visitors and social distancing should be observed within the galleries.

New exhibits include “Modern Mix,” a collaboration with Cape Cod Museum of Art; “Shadow
Catcher” featuring a selection of early 20th century photographic images from Edward Curtis’ renowned body of work, “The North American Indian, one of the most significant records of Native American culture ever produced; “Interference,” oversized oversized, colorful, and interconnected shapes by Adria Arch; and Alfie Glover’s whimsical outdoor sculpture. “Bedtime Stories” by Sally Mavor, featuring the original artwork for Mavor’s book, “My Bed,” will open in September.

“I am thrilled to announce that the Cahoon Museum of American Art will reopen on Aug. 1,” the museum’s Executive Director Sarah Johnson wrote in a the museum’s newsletter this week. “We have missed you and can’t wait to reopen our doors again to welcome you back. There is nothing like the experience of immersing yourself in art, and our current exhibitions will refresh and engage you.”
Alfie Glover
Alfie Glover’s whimsical sculptures are on display on the grounds of Cahoon Museum of American Art.