The Cape Ann Museum is not an art museum, it is not a history museum, it is not a decorative arts museum, it is all of these and additionally it has a library where researchers can come and find out information about Cape Ann and if you have roots in the area, perhaps trace your ancestors. I did just that and spent about an hour with the delightful staff that was eager to help. It is not a huge library but it has over 2500 titles covering a wide range of topics. Vessel log books, maps, letters, photos and a whole lot more are available to look at. The library is open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is included in the price of admission to the museum.
Located in the heart of downtown Gloucester is the unexpectedly amazing Cape Ann Museum. Cape Ann is an area of Massachusetts with a deep history and a strong identity. It is not Cape Cod and it is not Boston. It is a cape that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and includes the towns of Gloucester, Rockport, and Manchester by the Sea, as well several hamlets.
On the date of our visit, there was a tour offered at 11 a.m. It was an hour long and covered the main highlights of the collection. While it was interesting, it was absolutely not necessary to enjoy the museum. It was centered on the art primarily and did not touch on the decorative arts at all. This is a shame in a way because though the art is interesting, the furniture is as well.
In the FitzHenry Lane Room there were many pieces of his artwork but there was also a gorgeous tall clock, a pianoforte and a model of America’s Cup. It seems FitzHenry Lane was the first artist to immortalize the race on canvas. Take the tour by all means, but then go back and look at all the treasures on your own.
The tour did go to the second floor and tour an area that the children in the group most particularly liked. It was a diorama of the Gloucester harbor front as it appeared in 1893. This exhibit was created as a display for the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago. It is in amazing detail and was interesting to the adults in the group as well.
Across the hall was another maritime exhibit including one for the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo, Captain Alfred Johnson. The boat he sailed in was on display and he made the trip is 66 days from June 15 to August 21, 1876 as a celebration of the Centennial. He did it on a dare and considered himself crazy for having accepted it.
The museum is located over three floors with the library in the basement.
While the more energetic can use the stairs, there is an elevator and there are handicap ramps. A small gift store is located on the main level across from the entrance desk. Check the website for currents entrance fees and exhibits.