Volunteers play a vital role in the day-to-day operations and the long term success of the Cape Ann Museum, and the organization is deeply grateful to all who share their time and talent. Volunteers serve as docents, guiding visitors through the galleries; they assist with cataloging and research projects in the curatorial department and the Library & Archives; and they work with special focus groups, from the Museum’s youngest visitors to its eldest. Volunteers also lead walking tours, serve as hosts at special programs and events, and assist with administrative tasks.
Let’s meet a few and hear about some of their favorite things on Cape Ann and in the Museum:
-A special place, Cape Ann has gorgeous scenery and atmosphere, art and history, maritime tradition, and many creative people—all in a compact, geographical package. Gail is honored to be a docent at the Cape Ann Museum and to be part of the Museum’s team. Gail says it would be difficult to choose a favorite work in the Museum. Her favorite is the WHOLE Museum, its focus, its collections, and its talented staff who have the energy to move forward. To quote the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru: “There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
-Ed is thrilled to be part of the CAM community, which does a great job in presenting the Museum’s collection and programs to the public. A favorite work is Walker Hancock’s War Memorial. Ed had the good fortune of working with Walker on the conservation of land near his Lanesville home and studio, a place known as “The Ledges” that had been marked by the retreating glacier. Walker had taken Robert Frost to this spot, which Frost later memorialized in his poem “Directive.”
-Linda’s family came to Cape Ann in the 1950s so her dad could be a swordfisherman on the boat he and her grandfathers built. But Linda was always more interested in the artists she saw working on the streets of Rockport. Although, since joining the docent/volunteer program, she has become very interested in CAM’s rich maritime collection. Her favorite works are still the Museum’s paintings and sculptures. Linda loves the color and dappled light in Thieme’s “Blue Door,” the painterly paintings of Cecilia Beaux, and most of all Charles Grafly’s bust of Frank Duveneck. Even after years of visiting Mr. D., Linda still expects that one day he’ll turn and speak.
-The granddaughter of a fisherman (an émigré from Nova Scotia in the 1920s) and the daughter of a Gloucester High School graduate (Class of 1938), Sharon loves the changing sea and skies that surround Cape Ann. The Cape Ann Museum is a favorite place, unique in breadth of mission; her favorite work in its collection is Cecilia Beaux’s “Jimmie” because the artist captures so perfectly the independence and determination of a growing child.
Dawn (Steele) Dexter
-Dawn’s feels blessed to live among Cape Ann’s rugged bountiful gifts—its topography, its people, water, light, sunsets, marshes, beaches, and rocks. Cape Ann is “a gift of itself.” To her, the Museum is a reflection of all that! Dawn loves to share how the collections capture and preserve the role of Cape Ann’s significant contribution to the making of the nation. Her favorite objects are many and varied: the Fitz Henry Lane Collection; Walker Hancock’s PA. War Memorial; the original Coast Guard display in the Maritime Gallery; Stuart Davis; Hopper; Marsden Hartley; and lastly, the Folly Cove Design story of rural cultural sweetness and amateur accomplishment inspired by Virginia Lee Burton..
-Pat was lucky enough to spend her childhood summers in Lanesville/Folly Cove. As a child and young girl, she got to know many of the artists and writers who also summered there. She was childhood friends with the children of George and Jinnee Demetrios, Leon Kroll, and Paul and Louise Kenyon. Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios was—and still is—her idol and role model. Pat’s first-hand knowledge of the time and the people of that era inform her tours and work at the Museum.
-The Cape Ann Museum is unique in how it brings together the many aspects of life from the fishing and granite industries to the art and artists who, through their work, also embraced the working people, the sea, and the light of Cape Ann to create a living history of this place by the sea. Her favorite pieces at the Museum: the Fresnel lens and the Folly Cove Designers. And everything in between!
-The Cape Ann Museum teaches about and celebrates these many connections. Tony enjoys many aspects of the Museum, but his favorite is the story of the Centennial. The sheer audacity of Capt. Alfred Johnson’s solo crossing in the Centennial boggles the mind. It’s also a “jaw-dropper” when Tony introduces this story on his tours. Other favorites are the art work, especially the third-floor galleries, and the constantly changing exhibits that always surprise with new insights to the artists of Cape Ann.
-When the Museum announced the training program for new volunteers in early 2016, Joan was eager to sign up and has not regretted for a moment the time and effort required to interpret the collection for our many visitors. Her favorite item in the Museum is Milton Avery’s “Bridge to the Sea.” Not only is it a beautiful image but it also relates to her life in Gloucester. Joan knows the place and has been over, under, and around it many times with her family and young visitors. She lives on Middle Street across from the Museum and continues to imagine that she could have been the next-door neighbor of Fitz Henry Lane in another life!
-John says his main focus, as a CAM docent, is to engage visitors, to entertain as well as inform, to make them want to share their positive experience with friends. “And if I can get a visitor to shed a tear in the Working Waterfront photo gallery, I know I have had a successful tour.”
-The CAM, which to Elizabeth is one of the best small museums in the country, provides us with an intimate experience of American art and the history of Cape Ann. The Museum’s programs and classes complement its collections and exhibitions. Each of the exhibits is vibrantly displayed and provides much information. Every time she thinks, “This is my favorite work,” a new exhibit opens and there is her favorite work! This is without a doubt a great place to be.
-Monica loves the Cape Ann Museum because it has such a wonderful collection of art and artifacts, displayed in creative and compelling ways. Though small, it offers everything a large museum does — exhibits, collections, programs, research, community outreach — without overwhelming. And because it does so much, it always needs help — which gives docents like her endless opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways to the mission of the museum, while learning so much in the process.
-One of John’s most satisfying hobbies was serving as a docent at the Bronx Zoo for several years and he is eager to repeat the adventure serving at CAM, one of the finest regional museums in the country. Favorite item in the collection? Whew… today it would be Leonard Craske’s often-overlooked sculpture in the Maritime Gallery, They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait. Tomorrow it might be something else.
-The Cape Ann Museum is unique in terms of its focus but also in its ability to create variety and excitement within that focus. Trudi’s favorite pieces in the Museum are the Fresnel lens (a magnificent and arguably sacred object) and Mary Davis’s sampler. Both of these represent a slice of Cape Ann history and, each in its own way, demonstrate the beauty of human achievement.
-Bruce prizes the variety of environments on Cape Ann: the sea, woods and trails for hiking, the easily-found quiet (so different than city living) and the diversity of the towns. He has been a long-time member of the Cape Ann Museum because it so powerfully presents the art and history that encapsulate the culture of the area. While touring, he always pauses at Leon Kroll’s painting, “Cape Ann”, on permanent loan from the MET. Two swimmers emerge from a quarry, a man and a woman, but a second woman waits and the male swimmer gazes intently at her while the female swimmer looks ambiguously into the distance. What is going on?
-What Bonnie loves about Cape Ann is its spell-binding land and sea ‘scapes’ reflected in the variety of artwork and objects preserved in the Cape Ann Museum collections. So, it’s no surprise when she says her favorite oil painting is Fitz Henry Lane’s “The Western Shore with Norman’s Woe”, 1862. The calmness, shimmering twilight and empty beach set off by the glow of the small island of Norman’s Woe in the distance reflect a peacefulness that she imagines the artist felt in this “twilight” period of his life.
Being a CAM docent fuels Bonnie’s desire to meet new challenges and find new things to learn and share with others.
Ann-Seymour St. John
-Ann-Seymour loves Cape Ann’s history, and culture, and art (and what a nice coincidence those are also the Museum’s “subtitle”!), and that it looks not dissimilar to Maine. She thinks our museum is unique because it’s the home of locally-made art, in a setting of engaging cultures and gripping history (James Connolly’s 1903 Gloucestermen still! has a firm hold on my imagination, after reading those short stories at ages 10, 25, 45…).
-For Doug, Cape Ann is to coastal Massachusetts what coastal Massachusetts is to the rest of the country: historic, scenic, surprising, quirky. The Cape Ann Museum has its own share of delightful quirks. His favorite: the statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage cradling a schooner instead of the baby Jesus. Where else but Gloucester? Fun fact: Doug wrote a nonfiction book in 2010 about a notorious 18th century forger, The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly.
-For Miriam, the docent program feels like a homecoming—combining art, local knowledge, and an urge to present human stories. One of the great things about CAM is that it is on such an upward trajectory: community involvement and world class art. Every one of Miriam’s tours include the Lane painting of the Babson house. You can feel the ache of the sisters who carried it with them all the way to California.
-Sarah was excited to take advantage of the most recent docent training offered at CAM. She has always been interested in the arts, especially all that is and has been offered at the Museum over the years. Being a docent provides her an opportunity to give back to our community, as well as to become more a part of it; and to continue to learn and share the wealth of history and art unique to us here on Cape Ann. Jim McCarthy and Sarah met on Bearskin Neck in Rockport even though they both grew up in Canton, Ohio. They married and have one grown daughter, Elizabeth, now residing in Cortland, NY. Sarah and Jim still live in Gloucester.