Exhibits & Collections

Welcome to the Exhibits and Collections section. The Society owns thousands of artifacts, including clothing and textiles, works of art and tools.

Additionally there are manuscripts, documentary artifacts, periodicals, photographs, a research library, and other resources available to the public.

The Society displays its collection through permanent and changing exhibits.


New Exhibits This Year

A Cape Cod Pictorial and the “Magic Lantern”

In the 1930s, two Harwich men travelled around the Cape to photograph its unique beauty. From Provincetown to Sandwich and Woods Hole, Lawrence B. Robbins and Allan W. Cahoon captured Cape scenes with the lens, photographing them onto glass slides. The photos were then shown to the towns people of Harwich using the latest technology–an early slide projector known as a “magic lantern.”  Harwich Historical society owns more than two hundred of these slides from the Cahoon/ Robbins collection and from the earlier Moody collection. Thanks to a generous grant from Harwich Community Preservation, we were able to digitize the slides so they are easily accessible. Our 2017 exhibit will feature a selection of prints from these slides and a display of magic lantern projectors!

From the photos we had we chose our favorites: street scenes, people at work, cranberry pickers, the Exchange Building, people enjoying a carriage ride, even beached whales!

Sketches of Old Harwich   

Reproductions of Lawrence B. Robbins’s sketches of Harwich circa 1930, done as a project under the WPA during the Great Depression.

How Harwich Did It:  Vignettes of Harwich everyday life from “back in the day.”

•  Remembering schooldays

•  A Captain’s Parlor: How Harwich’s wealthy lived

• Playtime in the past: An exhibit of toys and games


The Exchange in Art:  Original art by Monomoy HS students

   In the fall of 2016, Cape Cod Life magazine sponsored a contest for high school art students.  Students were given a choice of six historical topics, one of which was the Harwich Exchange Building. We are proud to present the art of eight students who chose this historic and iconic building (sadly, torn down in 1964).  Emma Starkweather’s lino cut shown below, was chosen as the winner for the Exchange Building category.

Our Permanent Exhibits 

Cranberry Culture

     The Harwich Historical Society at Brooks Academy Museum features Cape Cod’s largest exhibit dedicated to growing the first commercial crop of cranberries in the nation, and still today produces the finest cranberries on earth in its bogs.

The history of cranberry farming is documented here with photos, artifacts and hands-on activities.

Included is a diorama of a cranberry bog showing the history of harvesting techniques and built by students at the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School.


1983 Thompson’s Clam Bar Documentary

We have converted the first 9 minutes of an 8mm film, the 1983 Thompson’s Clam Bar documentary. Donate to help us finish the entire 36 minutes.

Harwich Train Exhibit

Photo of an old trainAlso on the second floor is an exhibit illustrating how the railroad influenced life in Harwich.

From fish to cranberries, and mail to tourism, train travel brought huge changes to Harwich and the Cape.

All Aboard the Harwich Railroad includes a working HO scale model layout depicting the railroad’s journey through Harwich and the surrounding area, built by the Nauset Model Railroad Club.


Photo Collection

People fishing at Bang’s Pond near Pleasant LakeA fishing party, c. late 19th century, enjoys an excursion to Bang’s Pond near Pleasant Lake.

The photo archive includes over three thousand photographs, chronicling Harwich people, places, industries, and events.

This collection can be researched year-round by appointment.

Please call or email the Society for information.