The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum offer great views of the Cape and an overview of an art colony.
Ask most people where the Mayflower landed, and they’ll probably say Plymouth. That’s true, but they often forget: The Mayflower landed in what is now Provincetown six weeks before the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth.
The Pilgrim settlers signed the Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of Plymouth Colony, in Provincetown Harbor on Nov. 11, 1620.
Put the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, and the sometimes surprising historical and cultural legacy of Provincetown and Cape Cod, on your agenda for a weekend getaway this summer. Or explore these other regional museums.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
The monument, built between 1907 and 1910 with granite from Stonington, Maine, is 252 feet tall and the most significant landmark on the cape. Architect Willard Thomas Sears, who also designed Old South Church and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, patterned the monument after the Torre Del Mangia in Siena, Italy.
It is accessible with a 10-minute walk up 116 steps and 60 ramps, and the views from the top across the expanse of the Cape are encompassing and impressive. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum anchor a rich cultural escape to Provincetown, which is full of galleries, great restaurants and easy access to the best beaches and sand dunes in New England.
The seasonal exhibition at the Provincetown Museum is “The Great Provincetown Summer – 1916,” which was the year Provincetown became the fun summer town we know today, when New York “cultural elites” arrived by the dozen. The exhibition celebrates “a uniquely fabulous year” in 1916, said museum director John McDonagh, when playwrights, artists, writers and thinkers from Greenwich Village came to Provincetown because World War I kept them from going to Europe, as was their custom.
“That summer launched Provincetown’s place in the world of culture, globally,” McDonagh said. “It took our art colony to a whole new level.”
The story is told with photographs, fine art and material objects.
Among those who came to Provincetown were playwright Eugene O’Neill and artists Marsden Hartley and Marguerite Zorach. There were four art schools in Provincetown in 1916, making the town a brief epicenter of Modernist art. The exhibition includes a Boston Globe story from 1916 proclaiming Provincetown the biggest art colony in the world and a newsreel from that summer spotlighting the history of the town and its emergence in the art world.
The museum draws about 100,000 people a year and is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day and until 5 p.m. through Nov. 30.
MORE INFO: 508-487-1310 or pilgrim-monument.org
Peabody Essex Museum
In Salem, Massachusetts, the Peabody Essex Museum opens an exhibition by American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam on July 16, focusing on the many years Hassam spent on Appledore Island off the coast of Kittery. Appledore, which is part of the Isle of Shoals, attracted urban dwellers from Boston and New York, who came to the island’s fancy hotel and bubbling summer community for R&R.
Hassam also came to paint.
For a solid 30 years beginning in the 1880s, Hassam chronicled Appledore in watercolor and oils. “American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isle of Shoals” will include about 40 paintings that celebrate Appledore’s character and colors, including its gardens, granite and shifting moods and weather. This is the first exhibition in more than 25 years that focuses on Hassam’s time at Appledore, which is about 6 miles from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Hassam painted plein air on Appledore, lugging his supplies with him wherever he went. The exhibition opens July 16 and is on view through Nov. 2; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
MORE INFO: 866-745-1876 or pem.org
In Dover, New Hampshire, the quirky and endlessly interesting Woodman Museum marks its centennial with a yearlong focus on the 100 most important objects in its vast collection. “The Woodman: 100 Years of Change” offers a museum timeline with artifacts, documents, photographs and other pieces that guide visitors through 100 years of Woodman history.
The museum opened in July 1916, dedicated to preserving the history of Dover and advancing the arts and sciences. The museum is a repository for rare rocks, unusual Lincoln memorabilia, stuffed now-extinct birds, a vast collection of World War II guns and items of local, regional and national interest. There’s a 300-year-old hand-carved doll, a Colt revolver from the Civil War, an asteroid that landed in China in the 1500s and an 8-inch iron key to the Dover Bank.
A visit to the Woodman opens a small window to a particular time and place in America, and celebrates the intersection of community and history. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.
MORE INFO: 603-742-1038; woodmanmuseum.org