There are so many fun things to do in summertime on Cape Cod, but one of my favorites is a visit to the Woods Hole Historical Museum in Woods Hole, MA. This small gem of a collection is housed in an adorable 18th century farmhouse draped with rambling roses and accompanied by an equally charming barn filled with old sailboats, models and memorabilia.
This season, there are two exhibits at the Woods Hole Museum — one on the history of businesses in the village and the other a series of life-like drawings of fish and sea creatures by James Prosek, a noted artist, author and naturalist. His paintings are incredible, and made me think of a modernist Audubon. See more on his work here.
I took a special interest in the “Businesses of Old Woods Hole” exhibit, as I recently gave a talk on being an entrepreneur in the village of Woods Hole so I am aware of some of the incredible leaders that have made this little village what it is today. Lining the walls are biographical material and photos of small-town luminaries such as Elijah Swift, Walter Luscombe, Prince Crowell and others who built whaling ships, created the guano factory that once operated here, started the first banks and more. It’s really interesting (and inspiring!) to think about the challenges they faced, especially as so much has changed since then.
There are a few exhibits that never change at the Woods Hole Historical Museum — the small boat museum is essentially an old barn lined with the hulls, models and detritus of small wooden sailboats. There is a retired mirror dinghy (this class of boat developed in the 1930’s is still sailed on Saturday mornings at the Woods Hole Yacht Club), a Hereshoff or two and more. Best of all is a moment in the cool shade of this quaint barn, looking out at the sunny Cape Cod weather just thinking about all the happy hours sailors spent on these vessels before they were retired to this perfect spot.
There is also a model of the village of Woods Hole, a brilliant creation of miniature houses, docks, ships capturing Woods Hole in the 1890’s. It was made one winter by a crew of enterprising villagers, and it offers a birds eye perspective on the village that is well worth seeing.
When you come to Cape Cod in summer, don’t miss a visit to the Woods Hole Historical Museum located at 579 Woods Hole Road. Check their website for access and hours which are significantly greater in the summertime.