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.

 Exhibits for 2018

A Cape Cod Pictorial and Harwich Artifacts

If you missed it last year, you have another chance to see the wonderful photos from our glass slide collections. By request, the exhibit is held over for another year.

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. 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!

This year in addition to the photographs, our exhibit features Harwich artifacts which relate in some way to the subjects of the photos: items salvaged from the Exchange Building, Eldredge’s Pharmacy, and more!

Playthings of the Past: Toys from a Mid-Twentieth-Century Childhood

The late Warren Hall was a HHS member and a collector of many things, including toys. The heart of this exhibit is Warren’s toys: trains, Plasticville houses, Roy Rogers memorabilia, and much more. We also have the loan of some girls’ toys from the time. How do you think they differ? How do they differ from kid’s toys today?

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.


A Captain’s Parlor: How Harwich’s Wealthy Lived

Our recreated Victorian-era parlor shows off our collection of late 19th-century furniture and china. What does it suggest about the people who owned and used these items?



Our Permanent Exhibit  

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.


Harwich Train Exhibit

Photo of an old trainThis past winter our long-running train exhibit came to the end of the line. We bid it a fond farewell as it was dismantled and taken back by the members of the Nauset Model Railroad Club. The good news is, the club may soon be gaining more space, which means they may be able to resurrect the exhibit in their club space in Orleans. We will keep you posted.

Meantime, plans are in the works to clean and repaint the room and mount a new exhibit to open in 2019 for the 175th anniversary of the Brooks Academy museum building!  (It seems like only yesterday….) The exhibit will focus on the schools of Harwich from past through present.



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.





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.