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We ask all visitors, including Members, to reserve tickets online prior to arrival.  Click here to reserve tickets.  The museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Face coverings are still required to visit the galleries.  On Sundays in June, the museum is available for private event rentals for graduation parties and other milestones – click here to book!

Exhibitions

MAIN EXHIBIT: Dance, Run, Jump!
First-Floor Galleries | May 29 – August 27, 2021

Visitation Information

All visitors to the Wenham Museum, including Members, are asked to reserve tickets in advance.   At present, face coverings are required for all visitors aged 3+ regardless of vaccination status.  For complete current COVID-19 protocols, please see our Reopening page (last updated 05/29/2021).  Thank you!

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Dance, Run, Jump!

Main Galleries
Included with Admission
Free for Members

 

 

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

Now Open

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.

 

Now Open

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.

The hands-on elements will be available in individual bins sanitized after each use, and disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be available for other hands-on elements not in the bins. Working hands-on gears, pulleys, gravity-driven cars, and more will delight the whole family in this safe and manageable space.

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.

 

Now Open

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.

 

Now Open

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

 

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

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.