Atwood Museum

Bringing History to Life!



Atwood Museum
347 Stage Harbor Road
Chatham, MA
Phone: (508) 945-2493
The Atwood Museum at 347 Stage Harbor Road is owned and run by the Chatham Historical Society. The original part of the museum is a house built in the 1750's by Captain Joseph Atwood when he was a subject of George II of England. Because the old house was occupied by the Atwood family until 1923 and acquired by the Historical Society in 1925, it has remained unchanged since the time it was built. It therefore provides an excellent view into the way of life during the 18th and 19th centuries in New England.

To house the Historical Society collections, several wings have been added to the original structure, with the latest expansion occurring between 2003 and 2005, Today there are eight spacious galleries housing art, artifacts, and decorative arts portraying life on Cape Cod since the 17th century. Illustrating Chatham's seagoing experience, there is a portrait gallery of notable sea captains of the 19th century and a maritime gallery featuring paintings of Chatham ships, as well as nautical equipment. One of the highlights of the museum is the mural barn that houses the nationally known portraits of 130 townspeople painted by Alice Stallknecht between 1932 and 1945. Capturing the life and struggles of town residents during that period, a guide relates many fascinating stories about those portrayed. One of the newest galleries is devoted to the history of fishing in the Chatham area and traces the evolution of the fishing industry on Cape Cod through objects, paintings, and photographs. Of special interest to many are the cranberry growing, salt works, and other trades. Also on the grounds is the Nickerson North Beach Camp built in 1947 that was moved, with all of the contents intact, to save it from being washed into the sea as the beach eroded, and the working lighthouse lantern room, of one of Chatham's last twin lights, with its original Fresnel lens.

Hundreds of interesting antiques are displayed in the 17 display rooms, providing something for all art lovers, history buffs, students, and lovers of Chatham and Cape Cod, no matter what their age. Although a complete visit requires about two hours, those with less time can enjoy selected sections of the museum. There is also a book and gift shop, stocked with items relating to the museums' collections.

As stewards of the region's history and culture, the Chatham Historical Society strives to educate, inform and enlighten the public, and bring enthusiasm to the Cape Cod Community. The Atwood Museum exhibits are open from May to October. The research library and special programs are available year round. For schedules and information, visit the museum website using the link on this page, or call 508-945-2493.