The rich history of Cape Cod includes its geographic development and natural resources, its role in sustaining native populations, its contributions to colonialization, its part in seafaring ventures, the inspiration of numerous artists, and the impact it has had on many famous historical figures. The various museums in Cape Cod are tributes to all aspects of its storied past.
The natural resources and surroundings have drawn people to the area for centuries, initially for food and later for the opportunity to study the coastal and marine environments. In turn, several museums are devoted to Cape Cod’s nature, science, and anthropology. The Mashpee Wampanoag Museum teaches visitors about the earliest known residents of Cape Cod with exhibits of ancient artifacts, baskets, hunting and fishing implements, weapons, domestic utensils, and other Native American heirlooms. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster and the Hinchman House Natural History Museum on Nantucket celebrate the geography, plant life, birds, marine life, and other wildlife of the region and the many scientific studies inspired by the abundance of natural resources. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute presents current-day ocean science while the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center details the history of one of the most important modern-day technologies, wireless communications.
From the time of earliest European settlers to present day, Americans have capitalized on Cape Cod’s abundant marine life and coastal position for a variety of seafaring endeavors. Whaling was critical to the early development of the country, and the Whaling Museum in Nantucket provides a detailed look at four centuries of whaling history. The Whydah Pirate Museum tells the tale of pirates through the artifacts recovered from a shipwreck. Museums like the Atwood Museum in Chatham and Egan Maritime’s Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum describe the history of ocean fishing in the area and its impact on Cape Cod Communities, while others like the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Barnstable and the Museums on the Green in Falmouth offer histories of Cape Cod’s navigation and military contributions.
Of course, the museums don’t stop at nature, science, and the sea. Among the people drawn to Cape Cod are numerous artists and other people who have also inspired museums. Celebrating the arts of Cape Cod, venues like Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich and Provincetown Art Association and Museum in Provincetown feature exhibitions, lectures, workshops and cultural events that promote works by local artisans and the Sandwich Glass Museum shares the works of Cape Cod craftsmen. Museums like the Captain Elijah Cobb House are tributes to famous Cape Cod figures and the John F. Kennedy Museum is dedicated the Kennedy family and the big part Cape Cod played in their lives, while The Orleans Historical Society in Orleans and Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Tisbury showcase the extraordinary people of Cape Cod and its cultural diversity. Whether your interests lie in nature, science, history, art, or people, the museums on Cape Cod are a fun way to learn something new every day!