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

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 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.

Historic Cape Cod: Victorian Age in Falmouth

Historic Cape Cod: Victorian blouse

This charming exhibit on historic Cape Cod is at Falmouth’s Museums on the Green will be running through October 11th. It is located in the 1730 Conant House at 65 Palmer Avenue, just 2 door away from the Palmer House Inn.

Historic Cape Cod: Victorian  blouse
Historic Cape Cod: Victorian blouse embellished with beads.
Antique Victorian Dress
Antique Victorian Dress

Two of the values that people of the Victorian era held dear were respectability and propriety. The rules of behavior and dress were strictly enforced by society. Getting dressed in the late nineteenth century had its own strict ritual. The care with which middle and upper class women dressed is an indication of how much importance was placed on one’s appearance. The fashion of the day was in an intricately coded language, as I guess it always has been and will continue to be. Fabrics, jewelry, embellishments and styles would indicate a persons social standing, economic situation and intellectual leanings. Victorian woman delighted in taking a bit of fabric and adding lace, beading or ruffling.

Historic Cape Cod: Victorian Swimwear
Historic Cape Cod swimwear, Victorian style

Most of the clothing in the exhibit are the fancier items that were saved and cared for, in other words their Sunday best. Sailing captains’ wives and other well-to-do Falmouth residents were known to dress formally. While the working class Falmouth residents such as the fishermen, crafts people and farmers’ clothing was not preserved. In those days of home weaving and hand sewing, people used their clothing until it wore out, at which time it was probably turned into rags. Woolen items were cut into strips and braided to make rugs.  Other fabrics were sewn into quilts. The items in the exhibit, show the clothing that people cherished and saved.

For women at the turn of the twentieth century, getting dressed was a lengthy process. It was not unusual for a woman to wear fifteen pounds of undergarments alone. They were put on layer upon layer. The clothing was uncomfortable, hot and confining. There is one photo at the exhibit that shows two women in a canoe. They are wearing wide-brimmed hats, full length belted skirts, high neck blouses with ties and long buttoned sleeves. It does not show their feet but if they were wearing button-up shoes like the ones in the nearby case, they would have been goners if the canoe had capsized.

Historic Cape Cod: Spritsail Sailboat
Spritsail Sailboat

There is another photo of a spritsail sailboat. This is a rig design that is unique to Falmouth and Eel Pond in the Woods Hole section of town. The boat was designed with the mast located in the bow, with one large sail. As the boat approached the fixed bridge, the crew would step the mast. Which means that it is lifted from its mount and placed horizontally in the boat. The boat passed under the bridge and the crew would put the mast back into place. When a draw bridge was built over the inlet to Eel Pond this type of boat was no longer needed. However, upon occasion a spritsail can be seen in Falmouth waters.

Victorian Parlor Games
Victorian Parlor Games

During the late nineteenth century, Cape Cod was in transition. For generations whaling and fishing had been the primary source of income. When the fisheries collapsed and whaling became no longer profitable, people started leaving the area in order to find work. At that same time, wealthy Bostonians and New Yorkers started coming to the area to vacation. They liked the fresh air and the beautiful beaches. The resorts and hotels soon followed. During the early part of the twentieth century, the rail lines arrived and brought more tourists. Thus the Victorian Age came to Falmouth.

Victorian Hats
Victorian Hats

Other Historic Cape Cod Articles

 Historic Cape Cod: Victorian Age in Falmouth

Falmouth Museums on the Green

1730 Conant House
65 Palmer Avenue
Falmouth, MA 02540

Falmouth Museums on the Green are located in the Historic District and just a few steps from the Palmer House Inn.

Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of our rooms have their own individual charm with beautiful antiques and historic Cape Cod items, 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.

Katherine Lee Bates

Birthplace of Katherine Lee Bates, Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Before she was 12 the “America the Beautiful” author, Katherine Lee Bates, wrote her last will and testament.


Katherine Lee Bates statue, Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Katherine Lee Bates statue, Falmouth, MA.

Deeply affected by the death of her father shortly after her birth, She believed in leaving nothing to chance. She bequeathed all her worldly possessions, including her dolls and toys,to a close friend with the hope that she would give them to poor Indians and her garments to her Mother.

Bates was born in Falmouth on Aug. 12, 1859, in a house less than a block from The Palmer House. Her father was the pastor of the Congregational Church. She lived in the town for the first 11 years of her life.Educated at Wellesley College, she became a professor and eventually head of the college’s English literature department. Although best known for her beloved poem ” America the Beautiful,” she also wrote 32 volumes of stories, poems and essays. The author is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Falmouth.

Room One at the Palmer House is called the Katherine Lee Bates Room.

Birthplace of Katherine Lee Bates, Falmouth, Massachusetts.

The Katherine Lee Bates exhibit can be seen at Falmouth’s Museums on the Green.