CELEBRATING A CENTURY! Join us as we open our newest exhibition, Celebrating a Century: Our Stories and Yours and launch our 100th anniversary year.  Our Opening Reception is this Thursday, September 29th from 5 – 7 p.m. with special guest Lea Rutledge.  A Suggested Donation of $20 per person is encouraged to attend.
MUSEUM HOURS:  Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  From May 15 – Sept. 15, the museum is closed on Sundays.  Face coverings are optional when visiting the museum. Reservations are not required to visit the Wenham Museum.  However, if you wish to reserve in advance, you may by clicking here.

Exhibitions

TRAINS, TRAINS, AND MORE TRAINS,  Merry TRAIN Gallery

Visitation Information

Reservations are no longer required to visit the Wenham Museum.  However, if you wish to reserve in advance, you may by clicking here.  Face coverings are optional.  Thank you!

UPCOMING & CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

New Exhibition

Celebrating a Century:  Our Stories and Yours

First Floor Galleries
Included with Admission

Free for Members

Celebrating a Century:  Our Stories and Yours shares the best of all of us.  For 100 years, museum volunteers, staff, and community members have collected and preserved countless objects, textiles, and historic documents for future generations to learn and be inspired by our happies moments, our biggest triumphs, and our moments of redemption.  In this major exhibition, the stories focus on five themes: children and family, community, philanthropy, citizenship, and justice.  As we set forth into a new century, the North Shore meets the world and the past informs our future.

Always Open

Trains, trains, and more trains!

Bennett E. Merry Train Gallery

Train fans of all ages delight in our 10 operating model layouts—in G, O, HO, N, and Z gauges—with 21 trains that operate with the push of a button. Railroad artifacts, memorabilia, large-scale models and antique toy trains are also on display.

Model train and railroad experts are often on hand to answer your questions, discuss scenery building and layout construction, and offer advice to railroad hobbyists.

Learn More >>

Now Open

The Ox Cart Man

Family Discovery Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Visit the Family Discovery Gallery to explore the classic children’s book The Ox Cart Man, Donald Hall’s poem about seasonal New England life. The story is brought to life with Barbara Cooney’s Caldecott Medal-winning illustrations displayed in large format on the gallery walls, and like all of our exhibits, includes plenty of opportunities for dramatic play and hands-on interaction.

Now Open

William B. Osgood Toy Soldier Collection

Bergholtz Gallery

Toy soldiers have been collected across the world’s cultures since the days of ancient Egypt.  Originally made from wood, stone, or metal for the children of royalty, military miniatures are popular today as both playthings and historic collectibles.

Most of the Wenham Museum’s toy soldiers were given to the institution by former Wenham resident, William Osgood.  William “Bill” Osgood started his collection in the 1930s when he was 10 years old and received his first box as a gift.  Rather than setting up battles, he enjoyed the soldiers “as beautiful objects of history” and his favorite pastime was painting backdrops for their display.

Other toy soldiers in the museum’s collection were once owned by Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. and his son, Maj. Gen. George S. Patton.  This collection includes “Swappets,” which are plastic soldiers from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as lead knights made by Richard Courtenay, a British painter and sculptor active from the 1930s to 1950s.

Now Open

Colonel Timothy Pickering:  A Practical and Scientific Farmer

Pickering Library

Col. Timothy Pickering (1745-1829) was a soldier, politician, and a scientist, but his greatest passion was for agriculture. He fulfilled a life-long dream when he purchased his Wenham, Massachusetts farm in 1806, which he farmed for more than 20 years. His legacy of promoting scientific methods in breeding animals, growing crops and promoting agriculture generally led him to found the Essex Agricultural Society, which today runs the Topsfield Fair. This is the first exhibit in the museum’s newly renovated Pickering Library, named for Col. Pickering himself.

Sponsored by:
Essex National Heritage Area
Society of Colonial Wars in Massachusetts
General Society of Colonial Wars

PAST EXHIBITIONS

CARING COUNTS:
CENTURIES IN THE MAKING

June 24 – August 20, 2022

Artist Leslie Lyman’s recent sculptural piece is about the often unnoticed, but physically and emotionally difficult, work of caring for others–work that is usually performed by women. Using a handmade account book, which visitors will be able to touch and read, she has documented these seemingly innumerable tasks. The display will be accompanied by still photographs that reference caregiver’s efforts on behalf of those they love, and objects from the Wenham Museum’s own collection that support the history of care provided by women. Hands-on components will allow visitors to touch some the tools that have been used to provide care.

In addition to the gallery exhibition, LuminArtz will light up the nights of Friday, June 24th and Saturday, June 25th at the Wenham Museum with a live, outdoor video installation beginning at 7:30 p.m.  This installation will be projected on the exterior of the Wenham Museum’s building and feature Leslie Lyman’s work as reimagined by artist Pamela Hersch.

An Opening Reception will take place on Friday, June 24 from 7 – 9 p.m. with light refreshments and a cash bar. A $10 Suggested Donation is requested at the door for the Opening Reception. During the Opening Reception, guests can also view the Caring Counts exhibition in the museum’s galleries.

Learn more about Leslie Lyman >>
Learn more about Pamela Hersch >>
Explore the 2020 LuminArtz installation at the Wenham Museum >>  

Flower Power: Quilts in the Wenham Museum’s Collection

West Gallery

Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.

~ Luther Burbank

There are many things that provide artists with inspiration, and among the most common sources for that inspiration are flowers. Some create realistic reproductions, others fantastic forms that we recognize as flowers but that nature never made. In either case, the core of the inspiration came from flowers.

One thing that differentiates quilters who use flowers as inspiration from those using other shapes is that those who use flowers often have a more free-hand approach and their designs do not stick to rigid, geometric patterns or shapes. Many of these flower-inspired quilts are completely unique, not just in the choices of cloth used, but in their design, as the artists cut and sewed the cloth according to their own whims.

We hope you enjoy looking at these quilts – some of which feature flowers made using cloth cut and sewn to shape them, and some that used cloth with floral prints to tell their stories – but all show us the inspirational power of the flower.

Seek & Find:  Fox Hunting and Our Open Spaces

Opened Saturday, April 16, 2022
Thompson Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Fox hunting has been a popular equestrian sport in Hamilton, Wenham, and surrounding communities since the Gilded Age.  Learn about the local origins of fox hunting and the role that the equestrian community (and the hunt in particular) have played in preserving open land in Essex County.  Historic photos, quotations, narrative, and hunting attire once worn by a local Master of the Hunt, Russell B. Clark, will be on display.

The history becomes hands-on for children with a fox den you can play inside of, ponies you can ride, dress-up fox hunting attire, and some plush foxes and hounds to complete the imaginative play.  Families can also go “on the hunt” inside the museum by finding the many paw prints we’ve hidden throughout the museum!

Queen Elizabeth II: 70 years on the throne

Bergholtz Gallery

Events celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s long reign have already begun in Great Britain and the Wenham Museum is joining the fun. From our collection we have gathered dolls, toys and miniatures in the exhibit “Queen Elizabeth II: 70 years on the throne.” The earliest objects, paper dolls, actually date to 1938, when then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret participated in the coronation of their father, George VI. From our amazing Osgood collection of Britain’s Toy Soldiers we display two Coronation Processions. On view now in the Toy Soldier Gallery through July.

A Boxed Assortment

Osgood Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Long before Marie Kondo came along, people wanted to organize their stuff…and boxes did the job admirably. We have a large collection of containers, many of which have never been exhibited before. It’s like Christmas for us at the museum!

There are large boxes for soap, for salt, for wardrobes while sailing across the ocean. There are boxes which contain products for sale and have their tradenames and contents printed on the outside. There are boxes for hats, for shoes, for sewing supplies, for visiting cards and photographs. Boxes for snuff and matches and smelling salts. And there are beautiful boxes for personal accessories and treasures which are treasures in themselves.

Starting in November in Osgood Gallery we will mount a lavish display of boxes from the permanent collection, just in time for the holidays when boxes will be arriving in many of your homes, too. For those who wish, there will be materials and instructions for making boxes out of origami – maybe the collection will inspire you to fashion a gift box from beautiful paper that will become a treasure itself!

Starstuff: Star Quilts of the Wenham Museum

West Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

“It is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Stars are an endless source of inspiration for people around the world, and they are among the most common motifs used by quilt makers, with an enormous variety of artistic styles and techniques that can be used to express the impact of those moments spent staring at the sky. The collection at the Wenham Museum includes a spectacular array of quilts that showcase wonderfully creative designs, in both traditional and innovative quilts. Textile connoisseurs may understand the word “stuff” as it refers to plain, woven cloth, but in the right hands, that plain, woven cloth can be transformed into the “stuff” of magic.

Image: Detail from a radiating stars pattern quilt, ca. 1850, donated by Lynne & Paul Weaver.

’Tis the Season for Trains

Main Galleries
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Winter holiday trains are coming to the Wenham Museum! Our exclusive, holiday-themed train exhibit includes the beloved annual favorite “Snow Train to Bakersville” layout, complete with its wonderful, ice skating “Peanuts” characters, as well as a large, G Gauge “Garden Train” layout – a classic style layout given to countless generations of kids during the holidays.

As always, there will be plenty to do and see: climb aboard a kid-sized train, take the Seek ‘n Find challenge to search out tiny details, and go around the corner to explore the history of the ice industry – including our kid-sized ice house and ice blocks – that created the need for the real trains in Wenham that inspired our collection of models. Don’t miss this holiday treat for the whole family!

Pysanky for Peace

Egbert Gallery
April 15 – June 18, 2022

One legend of the Ukrainian people living in the Carpathian Mountains tells us that pysanky (elaborately decorated Easter eggs) must be created each year. If they aren’t, the chains that hold evil in check will loosen, and it will be free to wander, causing havoc in the world. As long as enough pysanky are made, the chains will tighten and good will triumph for another year.

The Wenham Museum’s exhibit features 50 of these wonderfully decorated eggs, hand-made by artisans from around the world, in support of the Pysanky for Peace Project, which aims to raise funds to aid the ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. In lieu of an exhibit fee for this traveling display, the museum has made a donation to the non-profit organization Razom (which means “together” in Ukrainian), which is supplying critically needed medical supplies to the people of Ukraine.

We are doing what we can to support those suffering in this crisis. If you are able, please donate to Razom by going directly to their website. You will also find a donation box in the exhibit gallery (the museum will ensure that the funds go to Razom).

You can learn more about the Pysanky for Peace Project online.

On Parade: David Clark &
The Wenham Community Band

Egbert Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

This exhibit celebrates the legacy of David Clark’s passion for music and civic engagement. For three decades the bands that he founded entertained the community at celebrations and solemnized moments of sorrow. He meticulously designed and planned everything from the music they played to the uniforms they wore, and any member of the community was welcome to join. This engaging display in the museum’s Egbert Gallery is a snapshot of the years of dedication to that work.

In addition to the exhibit in the museum, the Wenham Museum has taken on the responsibility of preserving the bands’ legacy by accepting David Clark’s archive into its collection. The Clark family donated the notes, uniforms, schedules, and ephemera to the museum several years ago, and it has now been fully cataloged and made available online.

Moving Towards Love:
Paintings by Peter Stewart

Lobby Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members 

“As we emerge from our pandemic cocoons… may we all move towards love.”

Local resident Peter Stewart lost his wife and his mother right before the pandemic began.  He was challenged to find a new way to live, and found solace in painting.  Be inspired by Peter’s art to embrace new beginnings and to move forward towards love.

Peter’s art is available for purchase to benefit ACORD Food Pantry of Hamilton, Massachusetts.

From Here to There:  Wenham on the Move

West Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

From Here to There: Wenham on the Move features dozens of photographs taken by Wenham resident Benjamin Conant from the 1880s until the 1920s. Although the whole Conant photo collection records 40 years of people, places, and things in Wenham captured on glass plates (over 3600 in all!), Wenham on the Move focuses on bikes, trikes, trains, trolleys, horses, carriages, and all the other things that helped people move themselves and their things from one place to another.

Benjamin Conant documented everyday life in Wenham, taking pictures of anything and everything that would hold still long enough. By taking so many photos over such a long period of time, he chronicled his home town as it changed from one century to another, and from old technology to new. He even captured people as they moved from one stage of a life to another – from infants being pushed in baby carriages to riding their own tricycles and bicycles, and later as they rode in trains, trolleys, and cars.

These wonderful images show us Wenham as it was – and as it changed – over decades, giving us a little taste of the lives of the people who came before, and how they moved from here to there.

Dance, Run, Jump!

Main Galleries
Included with Admission
Free for Members
Closed November 7, 2021

 

 

In this hands-on exhibit, visitors can experience the equestrian competition known as eventing, or the three-day-event.  You and your horse can:  run cross-country, jumping over amazing obstacles; dance while learning about the ancient art of dressage; and, jump with the speed and grace of show jumping.  After completing the competition, hop up on the podium for your medal and take care of your horse in the interactive horse care area.

Sponsored by
The Perkin Fund

Shake, Rattle & Roll!

Family Discovery Gallery
Included in Admission
Free for Members

 

 

The museum has literally hundreds of working mechanical toys – the oldest one dates from the 1780s! These toys work using gears, levers, gravity, and other basic principles of physics and simple mechanics. This hands-on exhibit will safely introduce preschoolers and their caregivers to simple machines and help them practice hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Special Thanks to Ken & Jean Jones, formerly of Wenham, Mass. and now of Peabody, Mass., for their generous support of exhibitions in the Family Discovery Gallery.

All About Light

Osgood Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

All About Light explores how we made light, used light, played with light, and protected ourselves from light from the 17th century to the present.

From sunglasses, parasols, and sunhats to cameras, kaleidoscopes, and candleholders, the many interesting and entertaining objects that help us use or manipulate light are ready for you to explore! Use the “Seek and Find” challenge and the flashlights found in the hands-on interactive bins given to each visitor (sanitized for safety after each use!) to delve deep into the display and interact with the items on display for yourself.

The Museum’s collection includes examples of lighting equipment, like rushlight and candleholders and oil lamps, as well modern electric lamps, but there is so much more to it than that! Making light in order to see is only one of the many things we do with light, and the exhibit also includes toys that play with light, cameras that capture light, sunglasses and parasols that protect from light, decorations that celebrate light, and toys and dolls that represent all of the ways we use and change light.  On display through August 2021.

POLO:  A North Shore Passion

Burnham Hall
Included with Admission
Free for Members

America’s love of polo, the ancient “sport of kings,” first took hold in New York City in the 1870s and spread up the East Coast to Boston and the North Shore. For over 150 years, polo has been a local pastime. Learn about the history of the sport on the North Shore in this reprise of the polo section from our Equestrian Histories installation.

Our youngest (and young-at-heart!) visitors can try their hand at playing polo with our ride-on ponies and indoor polo field.

Sponsored by
The Perkin Fund

CALLING ALL ENGINES!  TRAIN TIME

First-Floor Galleries
Included with Admission
Free for Members
Open October 17, 2020 –  May 1, 2021

 

 

The Wenham Museum’s Train Time tradition continues with this year’s installation, Calling All Engines!  This exhibition will celebrate three, different iconic model trains and highlight their connections to places here on the North Shore and Cape Ann:

  • An engaging four-by-sixteen foot O-gauge Thomas the Tank Engine train display in honor of the 75th anniversary of the publication of the first Thomas books. See your favorite sites on Sodor in miniature and learn about local places of interest—like quarries, lighthouses, and farms—that are just like places Thomas would go to do his work. This section of the exhibit also explores the “real” trains that inspired the characters in Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • An eighteen-by-twenty foot O-gauge train layout inspired by daily life on Boston’s North Shore. With city scenes, country scenes, and a working harbor, this expansive layout will capture the diversity of our region. This display also includes many beloved Lionel-brand model railroad accessories, which will delight model railroad enthusiasts and our youngest visitors alike.
  • A large, S-gauge American Flyer train layout using recently gifted items to the museum’s train gallery. American Flyer S-gauge trains were popular in the 1950s. New generations can explore this must-have 20th century model train.

Due to COVID-19, hands-on opportunities for play will be driven by interactive baskets of toy trains, scavenger hunts, and train-themed activities that each household can use during its visit. Baskets are cleaned and disinfected daily. Other hands-on opportunities include a wooden, climb-on blue tank engine and a train station inspired by Knapford Station.

The museum’s expansive permanent collections will complete the exhibition, with mid-century travelling clothes and accessories, antique trunks and doll trucks, vintage railroad advertisements, and a display of historic railroad lanterns.

After you explore Calling All Engines! be sure to visit the museum’s permanent display of model trains in the lower galleries.

Tiny Things!

Osgood Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

This intriguing exhibit explores all things small! Featuring miniatures from the museum’s collection, as well those made by Abraham Megerdichian, a master machinist who grew up in Cambridge, MA. From the 1950s until his death in 1983 Abraham machined interpretations of everyday objects from blocks of metal. Displayed side by side with the museum’s collection, and with some full-size versions for comparison, this exhibit is sure to delight and fascinate – don’t worry, magnifying glasses will be provided!

Image caption: Curiouser and curiouser! These pins are less than a 1/2 inch high! Designed as a doll accessory, they came with a tiny pair of gloves for the White Rabbit! (accession # 2011.03.045d&e)

Confidence + Courage + Character = GIRL SCOUTS!

Opening February 29, 2020
Family Discovery Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Come exploring in our latest exhibition in the Family Discovery Gallery!

In celebration of Women’s History Month, and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage,  the new Family Discovery Exhibit is all about confidence, courage, and character! Our youngest visitors will learn scouting values while they role play selling cookies, camping, canoeing, exploring, and more! The Girl Scouts have been teaching leadership, teamwork, and life skills since 1912, and this exhibit celebrates that long history in an all-hands on gallery space for kids aged 5 and younger.

With special thanks to Ken & Jean Jones of Wenham, Mass. for their generous support of the Family Discovery Gallery.

My Essentials by Tina Rawson

Egbert Gallery
Included with Admission
Free for Members

My Essentials, an exhibit of paintings by Tina Rawson, showcases works that were created as a result of the surge of creativity that the artist is experiencing during the restrictions made necessary by the Covid-19 pandemic. Rawson is a Newburyport resident with a strong connection to her Swedish ancestry. She paints dynamic acrylic, oil, and watercolor pieces inspired by the natural world , including flowers, beaches, and horses; other pieces are inspired by her love of travel. Her paintings manage to be both soothing and energizing all at once – like a walk on the beach! This lovely exhibit will be on display through November 21, 2020 in the museum’s Egbert Gallery.

FROZEN: MELTED!

First Floor Galleries
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Don’t miss this summer refresh of our popular Frozen exhibition where we explore summer fun and what “frozen things do in summer!”  This family-friendly, hands-on history exhibit is packed with fun.

Go inside our kid-sized ice house and pack it with blocks of ice – using real ice tongs!  Sell ice cream from our Wenham Lake Ice Cream stand.  Sit in an authentic one-horse open sleigh, explore where in the world the ice from Wenham Lake went, see Matt Tavares’ original illustrations from Over the Hills and Through the Woods by Lydia Maria Child, and enjoy the many dolls and artifacts that explore summer right here in your own back yard!  A special equestrian section explores how horses were used to harvest ice right here on Wenham Lake.

For detailed information about the museum’s operations during COVID-19, please visit our Reopening page.

FROZEN: STORIES OF ICE & SNOW

First Floor Galleries
Included with Admission
Free for Members

Don’t miss our new exhibit, Frozen: Stories of Ice and Snow, featuring all things cold! This family-friendly, hands-on history exhibit is packed with chilly fun!

In a salute to Disney’s upcoming film, Frozen 2, our Winter 2019/20 exhibit will explore ice and snow in New England! Go inside our kid-sized ice house and pack it with blocks of ice – using real ice tongs! Glide along on our sock skating rink, sit in an authentic one-horse open sleigh, explore where in the world the ice from Wenham Lake went, follow the map of Geopolis using the original illustrations from Virginia Lee Burton’s Katy and the Big Snow, and enjoy the many dolls and artifacts that explore winter right here in your own back yard!  A special equestrian section explores how horses were used to harvest ice right here on Wenham Lake.

Equestrian Histories

June 11, 2019 – December 1, 2019
Main Galleries 
Included in Admission 
Free for Members

Equestrian Histories was an exhibition three years in the making for children, adults, riders, and non-riders alike!  This exhibit explored the history of the horse in sport on Boston’s North Shore, with a focus on the four major equestrian sports that Hamilton and Wenham are known for, which are:  fox hunting, polo, three-day eventing and coaching and combined driving.  The role that the equestrian community has played in preserving local open space was also included in this exhibit.

Equestrian Histories also featured never-before-seen content from the Patton Family Archives.  Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. and his wife, Beatrice Ayer Patton, were both accomplished equestrians. These traditions were passed to their children, and video footage of the Patton family (narrated by Gen. Patton’s son, Maj. Gen. George S. Patton, IV) is included within the Patton section of the exhibit.

Equestrian Histories is conceptualized an evolving exhibit, with annual offerings that delve deeper into particular sports and aspects of equestrian life.  Future plans also include an Equestrian Hall of Fame to celebrate those individuals–riders and non-riders alike–that have been integral to equestrian life on the North Shore.

Exhibition Support

Equestrian Histories and its related gallery improvements have been underwritten by over 100 generous donors who collectively contributed over $500,000 to the Wenham Museum.  Those providing leadership gifts are listed below:

Olympic
The Perkin Fund, Winifred Perkin Gray, Chair

World Champion
up to $60,000
Mr. Neil R. Ayer, Jr.
Ms. Susanna Colloredo-Mansfeld
Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Richey, Jr.

Grand Prix
up to $25,000
Mr. William S. Farish, III
Mr. and Mrs. Summerfield K. Johnston, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Dave Page
Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Pulsifer

For a complete listing of supporters, please visit the Equestrian Histories campaign website by clicking here.