Cape Cod Museum Trail – Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Monarch butterfly exhibit at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.

Exploring the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

By Mary Moran | Photos by Pat O’Connell

Continuing on to the lower cape area of the Cape Cod Museum Trail will lead you to the exquisite Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Originally created in 1954, the museum members met at Brewster Town Hall. From there, the museum’s directors  established themselves in a small building on an 80-acre area of salt marsh on Cape Cod Bay in 1960. Today, the  museum has expanded into a 17,000 square foot building that sits adjacent to over 400 acres of magnificent conservation land, This preserve includes,  salt marshes and pristine beaches.  All of this beautiful property is owned by the museum itself.

Whale exhibit at the Museum of Natural History.
Whale exhibit.

The 400-plus acres that are owned by the museum is located in Stony Brook Valley and the town of Brewster. The conservation land includes: Wing’s Neck Island, a salt marsh and the beach along Cape Cod Bay between Quiett and Pain’s Creeks.

The mission of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is to inspire appreciation, understanding and stewardship of our natural environment through discovery and learning.

Here, at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, visitors of all ages can engage in a variety of workshops, classes, lectures, exhibits, walks, films, field trips, panel discussions, interactive exhibits and tours. The goal is to teach visitors to explore the diversity of the natural world here on the Cape. At the nature center, one can explore his/her potential as a citizen scientists or amateur naturalists.

Bees Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Bees.

Exhibits currently at the museum include Archaeology, Honey Bees, Biomimicry, People of the Land, Preserved Bird Collection, the Marsh View Room, Natures-cape Gallery, Butterfly House, and more. The grounds also have a wildflower garden and three separate nature trails to explore and learn about the abundance of plant, animal, and marine life existing in the region. Interactive exhibits and educational films are two more exciting options to explore while visiting.

The museum has collections based exhibits, that include live marine science exhibits that include whales and birds. There are also many off-site nature tours. The grounds of the museum include in addition to the three nature trails  a wildflower garden.

The most popular field walk is the “John Wing Trail”. It is 1.3 miles in length and passes through a coastal pitch pine woodlands, across the salt marsh to Wing’s Island and goes down across a salt marsh swale to a barrier beach with tidal pools on Cape Cod Bay.

The butterfly house opens on June, 1 and closes on September 3. There is an additional charge to go into the house and to participate in the feeding.

For reservations call: 508-896-3867  X 133

The museum also focuses on the interactions and impacts that humans have upon nature and vice versa. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is a “must-visit” while sightseeing through the breathtaking areas of the lower cape.

This museum is located on the Kings Highway, Route 6A, about a ninety minute drive from the Palmer House Inn. It is a wonderful place to spend a afternoon while visiting the Cape.

For business hours and admission information:

Visit their website at www.ccmnh.org or give them a call at 508-896- 3867.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring this Cape Cod museum, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgeable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

Cape Cod Saltworks

Saltworks minature

Saltworks and Cape Cod’s History

In 1832 there were 881 saltworks on Cape Cod. That time was the height of salt production. Cape Cod Saltworks has brought back that historic Cape Cod industry. They have revived the original method of producing salt through evaporation. They make artisanal salt using old fashioned, small-scale techniques.

Because the early Americans did not have refrigeration, salt was the only way they could preserve foods. During the Revolutionary War the British blockades  of American ports, forced New Englanders to produce their own salt. Thus an economic boom was created on Cape Cod. Local entrepreneurs applied their ingenuity to producing salt by using the seemingly endless supply of wind, sun and sea water.

This is a miniature reproduction of the Falmouth Saltworks. It is on display at the Falmouth Museums on the Green.
Top view of the saltworks

However, when the railroad came to Cape Cod and salt mines were discovered in New York, salt production by evaporation was replaced by mined salt. The mined salt was less labor intensive and thus less expensive. In a few short years the salt works throughout the Cape were dismantled. The vats are long gone, however, the original wooden pipes can still be found, uncovered in the bay, after a big storm.

Falmouth built salt works in the 1700’s. The entire works was made of wood. That included wooden pipes and wooden pegs. Even the shovels and buckets were wooden. Sea water was pumped by a wind mill into a high vat or large wooden tray. The water was  evaporated by the sun through three stages of processing. The vats were connected with pipes and each vat was lower than the one before and had higher walls.

Some of the By-products of salt making are Epsom salt and Glaber’s salt that is used in glassmaking and to soften hides.

Elijah Swift, one of Falmouth’s founding fathers was a major owner of Falmouth’s saltworks. Swift noted in one of his business records that 350 gallons of sea water produced one bushel of salt.

Saltworks miniature
This is a miniature reproduction of the Falmouth Saltworks. It is on display at the Falmouth Museums on the Green.

Pyramid shaped roofs were rolled over the vats in case of rain. This was to prevent dilution. One significant rainfall could set the evaporation process back significantly. School children often helped to roll the roofs into place. At peak production, Falmouth had 42 saltworks along its shores in 1845.

“Cape Cod Saltworks” has recreated the historic tradition of producing salt by evaporation. They have recaptured the production of pure salt that is harvested from the waters of Cape Cod.

“The unique flavor of this 100% natural sea salt echoes the briny tang of a summer’s day at the beach.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring Cape Cod’s history, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Cape Cod Museum Trail – The Cape Cod Museum of Art

Cape Cod Museum of Art

Cape Cod Museum of Art

By Mary Moran

The Cape Cod Museum of Art’s mission is “to collect, study, interpret, and exhibit works by outstanding artists with a regional association. The museum’s collections and exhibitions also include works drawn from a broader context, providing a more comprehensive understanding of our regional artistic heritage. Through its educational and outreach programs, the museum seeks to preserve this heritage by fostering artistic and cultural growth.”

In 1980, Harry Holl, a potter and sculptor, got together with Roy Freed, an artist and lawyer, and proposed the idea of opening an art museum with primary focus on artists with association to Cape Cod and the Islands. After the proposition, the men assembled a group of artists, activists, and educators to create the Scargo Lake Museum in January of 1981. Only a year later the name would be changed to the Cape Cod Museum of Fine Arts and a membership campaign would begin. By 1984, the museum had gathered 1,000 interested and active members. A quaint storefront in Theater Marketplace (Dennis Village) would be the first home of the museum. Expansion of the museum was inevitable and quickly occurring. In 1985, Cape Cod Museum of Fine Art’s trustees signed a lease agreement to build the museum on an acre of land at the Cape Playhouse, also located in Dennis. Two years later, the Davenport West family donated a building to house the collection. The building, however, was located in Harwich, a near-by mid-Cape town. A $300,000.00 dollar campaign was soon established. The purpose of the  fund raising effort was to transport the building from South Harwich to the Cape Playhouse grounds in Dennis. A refurbishing budget was also included in the fund raising effort. In September of 1987, the generously donated building was divided into eleven pieces and loaded onto seven trucks to make the journey to its new site. It took nearly three years for the reconstruction, but the museum finally opened in 1990.

In the mid-1990’s, the museum’s trustees and president launched a three-phase campaign to further expand and enrich the museum and its contents. Phase one was to turn the museum into a year-round, state of the art facility. The second phase was a renovation and addition in 2001 which included seven climate-controlled galleries, an auditorium, sculpture garden, museum shop, library, elevators, and more. The third and final phase was in the summer of 2003 with the formation of the Weny Education Center.

To further enhance the museum’s mission statement, its name was once again changed, this time to the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Today, the Cape Cod Museum of Art is the only museum completely dedicated to preserving and exhibiting works by artists of the entirety of the Cape Cod and Islands region. In order to continue the creativity and uniqueness of local artists and their work, the museum offers classes and workshops to both children and adults. Summer pottery and summer art camp are also available for children to cultivate their artistic sides. There is even an Art & Alzheimer’s Program where those with memory loss and their caregivers can learn and create beautiful works of art together.

Only a 50 minute drive from the Palmer House Inn, the Cape Cod Museum of Art is a wonderful place to visit in order to get a unique and view of Cape Cod and what it has to offer.

Cape Cod Museum of Art
60 Hope Lane
Dennis, MA 02638
508.385.4477
website


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring gardens on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgeable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.