Sometimes, you just sort of stumble upon things. I have been to Sandwich perhaps a dozen times over the years, but somehow, I never ended up at the Heritage Museum & Gardens (67 Grove Street, Sandwich). Looking back on everything, I can’t believe that I missed out. Sandwich’s Heritage Museum & Gardens has something for a wide array of tastes. There is a wonderful collection of antique automobiles, beautiful gardens, activities for kids as well as a carousel, and this summer, the museum also has an exhibit “Norman Rockwell: Beyond the Easel.”
For fans of antique cars, the museum’s automobile collection is housed in a replica of Hancock Shaker Village’s Round Stone Barn. The collection contains a wide range of cars, most from the first half of the twentieth century. Some of the most interesting of these include a 1909 White Steam Company car that was used by President William Howard Taft, a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Derham Tourster once owned by actor Gary Cooper, and a 1915 Milburn Light Electric car. There is also a 1913 Ford Model T that visitors can get into for a great photo opportunity.
The Norman Rockwell exhibit focuses on the models behind some of Rockwell’s most famous works. For example, two different versions of Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Runaway” are displayed in the exhibit along with a number of photographs of the three models: the state trooper, the runaway boy, and the man behind the counter. The exhibit helps show how a series of photographs evolved into the famous cover of The Saturday Evening Post. During the course of his work on the painting, Rockwell made subtle changes such as replacing both the man behind the counter as well as the background in the diner. In other works on display, Rockwell often exaggerated the facial expressions of his models for his works. The exhibit is a fascinating look into the work of one of America’s great illustrators.
The Heritage Museum & Gardens is open Monday through Sunday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm with extended hours on Wednesdays in July and August (10:00 am until 8:00 pm). For more information, please check out their website.