The Museum Galleries
The galleries and permanent exhibits on the ground floor of the Museum are shown below. Click on the floor plan image for a larger view. You can preview items from our galleries available on our Pinterest page.
The Old House
The Old House is the original Atwood house built in the 1750s by Captain Joseph Atwood. The house remained in the Atwood family until the 1920s when the Chatham Historical Society was formed and purchased the building. Explore with a docent or audio guide, the seven rooms on the ground floor containing objects from the 1700's - 1900's showing three centuries of family life on Cape Cod. An additional room, Marjorie's kitchen was added in the 1830s.
The Main Exhibit Gallery
Experience the history of Cape Cod through our newest exhibit, Main Street Cape Cod. In collaboration with 22 museums and historical societies across Cape Cod, the Atwood Museum invites you to journey the historic main streets of the each town.
The Joseph A. Nickerson Jr. Portrait Gallery
Join us in the Joseph A. Nickerson Jr. Portrait Gallery for two new exhibits! One is on the historic first transatlantic flight of the NC-4. This is the story of groundbreaking aviation history that involves the town of Chatham 100 years ago. The second exhibit in this gallery "Chatham Digs," showcases the findings from the archaeological dig that was done on the grounds of the Atwood property.
The Tool Room
A variety of tools, trade signs, and other artifacts make up the tool collection. These objects date from early the 1800s thru the early 1900s. Highlighting the Tool Room Exhibit is the restored Atwood Store Sleigh discovered in the basement of the Eldredge Garage before the building was demolished in March. The sleigh is about 150 years old and emblazoned with “Atwood Store” and “Groceries” in gold lettering on its dark green paint. It has a long, open bed to accommodate large, unwieldy loads, and iron runners that curve up at the front. As with the other parts of the Collection, nearly all items were donated by individuals with Chatham connections.
The Lighthouse Turret
From 1808 until 1923, ships in the Atlantic knew they were off Chatham MA when they saw the town’s famous twin lights. In 1857, the lights were equipped with Fresnel lenses so they would project the beam farther out to sea. Relocation to Atwood Museum was made possible by the daughters of Mrs. Fannie Lewis Shattuck. Restoration to the lantern room is a direct result of generous grants from Community Preservation Trust Fund & the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Charitable Foundation.
The Joseph C. Lincoln Room
Joseph Crosby Lincoln (February 13, 1870 – March 10, 1944) Although born in Brewster, Joseph Lincoln’s adopted home was Chatham, and many of his 50 books, including 38 novels and several collections of short stories, verse, and personal reminiscences of Cape Cod, were written in his home on Shore Road. Lincoln's works were bestsellers during the first half of the 20th century. Lincoln’s stories bring to life the people and the times of Chatham and Cape Cod during 19th and early 20th centuries.
This gallery was updated in 2018 and converted into a writer's den reflecting the author's inspirations and influences of today's local novelists.
The Durand Room
The Durand Room at Atwood Museum. Chatham Historical Society, Chatham, MA. This gallery was given in 1974 by Mrs. Samuel Durand in memory of her husband. It houses their collections of Parian Ware, threaded Sandwich glass and sea shells from around the world. Later their son, John Durand, bequeathed his valuable collection of 32 miniature carved birds by Elmer A. Crowell, the noted Cape Cod artist and carver of decoys.
The Stallknecht Mural Barn
Perhaps one of the most unique displays at the museum are these murals that provide a picture of a small town in the 1930s and 1940s. The murals were executed during that period by noted local artist Alice Stallknecht Wight. All of the people represented in the murals were residents of Chatham when Alice Stallknecht painted them.
The Nickerson North Beach Camp
This simple beach camp was used by the Joshua Nickerson family as a summer cottage. The building was located in Chatham in an area known as North Beach, a long point which once extended from Orleans to Chatham.
For many years, North Beach was a favorite place to get away from one's daily life and live more simply. When erosion threatened the camp, it was floated across the water in the spring of 1991, and given to the Museum by the son of Joshua Nickerson. The North Beach landmass continues change over time as the sands move rapidly along its coast. Currently it is divided by water (or breaks) in several places. Fortunately, the Nickerson North Beach Camp is now safely located on the Museum grounds.
The Spencer Y. Grey Maritime Gallery
“Double-Take: Historical & Current Panoramic Photographs of Chatham” features panoramic images of various locations and landscapes taken in the early 1900s and pairs them with photographs of the same places today. Visitors can view vistas like the iconic Twin Lights of the past next to the lighthouse today; Stage Harbor then and now; Mill Pond and more.
The exhibit was curated and sponsored by the Atwood’s Archivist Jean Young and her husband, photographer Andrew Young. Later in the season,more images from this series will be introduced. In order to support research, educational programs and more, custom prints and a coffee table book of images from this exhibit are available for sale through the gift shop.
The Wendy Wade Costello Gallery
The Wendy Wade Costello Gallery can be found on the lower level of the museum and is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4 pm by request. The gallery features a selection of nautical charts and other documents from our extensive collection that is representative of Chatham's maritime heritage.