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cARTography: Envisioning Cape Cod

June 30 - October 3, 2021

cARTography: Envisioning Cape Cod

is a multi-faceted exhibition orchestrated around the theme of "VOYAGE". The word voyage encompasses the past, present and future and serves as a metaphor for the journey the Cape Cod Museum of Art has traveled as we celebrate our 40th anniversary.

cARTography was designed and curated in collaboration with Samuel Tager.

There are four distinct components to this cARTography exhibition:

• Historic Maps of Cape Cod dating from the 17th century to the early 1900s from the collection of David Garner

• "Our"Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History - an interactive exhibit created by Paula Peters and SmokeSygnals with the support of Plymouth 400, Inc.

• Two historic art Deco murals depicting a voyage, recently restored,

from the collection of Jon and Eliza Lewis

• Landscapes and People of the First Light, 11,000 Years Ago on Cape Cod

An immersive installation by Mark Adams, artist and cartographer for the national seashore.


Historic Maps of Cape Cod from the collection of David Garner

Maps appeal to our eyes and orient us in time and space. They evoke memories of places we cherish and summon us to enter worlds that are both familiar and foreign.

For those of us who inhabit Cape Cod in our daily lives or in our imaginations, we feel a personal connection to its land and a tidal attraction to the sea. These terrestrial and maritime realms are intimately linked, dynamically interacting, season after season.

For centuries, mapmakers have been engaged in efforts to measure the breadth and depth of Cape Cod, plot its transformations, and assist us in planning our journeys through and around it. In this exhibition, we will sample some of the treasures of our cartographic heritage. Each map or chart is an artifact of its time and place. They reflect the prejudices, preconceptions, and preoccupations of their creators and intended audience. It may offer a snail’s-level perspective or a bird’s-eye view of the terrain. It may provide a snapshot or a panoramic vision. But we need not be passive observers. These maps and charts invite us to ask our own questions and draw our own conclusions.

The exhibition features maps from the collection of David Garner, who has pursued his enthusiasm for all matters cartographical over the course of four decades. His passion for maps reflects his deep love of Cape Cod and its rich history. And he takes this opportunity to share it with us.

- Joseph Garver, Curator Emeritus, Harvard Map Collection


“OUR” STORY - 400 Years of Wampanoag History

The unprecedented Plymouth 400 exhibit, “Our”Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History was conceptualized, researched, and produced by SmokeSygnals Marketing and Communications and The Indian Spiritual and Cultural Training Council Inc.

“Our”Story reveals little-known historic and cultural realities of the “people of the first light.” The Wampanoag have lived in southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. They are the tribe first encountered by Mayflower Pilgrims when they landed in Provincetown harbor and explored the eastern coast of Cape Cod and when they continued on to Patuxet (Plymouth) to establish Plymouth Colony. The 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony is a story that cannot be told without the perspective of the indigenous people who were here as that ship arrived and who still remain.

Presented by Plymouth 400, Inc.


Art Deco Murals

from the collection of Jon and Eliza Lewis

The murals you see suspended at each end of this gallery were designed by William Riseman and Alexander Lercari, of the Boston area interior decorating company Riseman & Lercari, circa 1930s. The paintings once adorned the walls of a theater in Hyannis.

When Jon and Eliza Lewis purchased the murals from Eldred’s Auction House in Dennis (about 3 years ago), the paintings were in rough shape. Cape Cod Picture Framing & Restoration of Dennis was contracted to repair and restore the art deco style murals to their original beauty.

According to art restorer Tracy Nee, both murals feature a silver sunburst made of real silver, and the stars are made of real gold. Each mural measures 10 feet high and 18 feet wide and weighs approximately 300 pounds.

This is the first time in fifty years that the two murals are on display for the public to see.


Landscapes and People of the First Light, 11,000 Years Ago on Cape Cod

Installation in the Ocean Edge Gallery

The finely made historical maps that hang in the cARTography exhibition portray the Cape and Islands from the traditional viewpoints of European cartography. The accompanying installations add perspectives and history left out of colonial histories.

This installation by artist and National Seashore cartographer, Mark Adams, visualizes how First People encountered a land shaped by geology and oceanography in the millennia before European contact.

Native traditions and histories parallel the processes of geology. Geology and sea level changes shaped landforms in the period after the last glacial retreat. The Wampanoags - the People of the First Light - were witnesses to these landscapes as they were weathered and transformed for more than 12,000 years, seeing a world that modern scientists struggle to reconstruct.

Sea floor mapping offers clues to the expanses of land and shoreline they encountered: vast woodlands of the coastal plain that extended across Georges Bank and the Nantucket shoals. A different climate fostered forests and wildlife that appear in Wampanoag histories, and in the archeological evidence catalogued in their middens and artifacts. Seafloor bathymetry has been mapped by oceanographers in recent years revealing the submerged lands that would have been inhabited when sea level was 140 meters lower. Wampanoag people had to be skillful navigators to prosper on this coastal landscape.

In this immersive installation, Adams transcribed navigation maps and rendered the depths with colored ink on mylar film, accompanied by star maps and imaginings of native wildlife that would have been important to the culture and survival of the First People.


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