De Hirsh Margules, Mother Ann Lighthouse, Eastern Point, Gloucester, 1946. Gouache on paper. Gift of Jean M. Horblit, 2002. [Acc. #2002.004.002]
A banner for the “Edward Hopper & Cape Ann” exhibition that has dominated the front of Cape Ann Museum on Pleasant Street all year came down Wednesday morning after the sold-out exhibition highlighting the Cape Ann works of one of the 20th-century’s most celebrated American artists closed on Monday, Oct. 16.
The scene on the banner, which borrowed a portion of the 1928 Hopper painting “Cape Ann Granite” had became a familiar sight to those visiting the area of City Hall since January.
About 9 a.m., a crew from Clay Sign Service of Rockport arrived to remove the banner. Owner Mike Clay and his helper, Tom Budrow, removed the wrought iron gate to the museum’s front courtyard with the help of the museum’s Grounds and Maintenance Manager Kennith Quesenberry.
They then raised the boom, swung close to the top of the banner and began undoing the metal fasteners that held the banner to the brick wall. At one point, the banner wound up draping over the two men as they worked.
Watching the men work was Oliver Barker, the museum’s director, who said the exhibition highlighting Hopper’s work and that of his wife, Josephine “Jo” Nivison Hopper, during their stays here starting in 1923. Hopper first came to Gloucester in 1912 with artist Leon Kroll and then returned in 1923, 1924, 1926 and 1928.
With the end of the exhibit, the museum was closed on Oct. 17-18 and set to reopen Thursday.
The special exhibition was presented in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, featuring works from the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, National Gallery of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. The museum has one drawing by Hopper, Barker said, and they were able to borrow 65 other works to mount the show.
The exhibit was a huge success, he said, and also broke the museum’s attendance records, attracting a total of 36,538 visitors during its 12 weeks starting on July 22, Hopper’s birthday. Barker said they had planned for 20,000 visitors to see the Hoppers’ paintings and drawings.
“So, that is wonderful because it shows that there were many people who wanted to come and see the museum before we opened the Hopper show,” Barker said. “There were many people that we couldn’t accommodate unfortunately to come and see Hopper but wanted to come and see the museum, anyway.”
Exhibit visitors understood the Cape Ann Museum had the context to show the works displaying ordinary scenes of Gloucester and Cape Ann from 100 years ago during Gloucester’s 400th anniversary year, Barker said.
“It was so exciting to people to take the handheld map we were giving out and go out and actually go to the end of the street and see the first scene that is two minutes away,” he said. “I think people really did buy into this special moment. The exhibition was 100 years in the making, and that these works haven’t been here in the last 100 years and it will probably be many years before they come back, and people really capitalized on that chance.”
Barker has spoken anecdotally to many business owners on Main Street and in the area “and everyone has said we’ve seen a huge rise in foot traffic, in some cases, you know, people have seen an uptick in their business, which is just wonderful. I love the fact that Hopper and the Cape Ann Museum has been a driver for local tourism and cultural tourism, generally.”
The museum’s next exhibition is called “Above the Fold,” looking at Gloucester Daily Times history and photographs from 1973 to 2005 that is opening on Dec. 2. The exhibition features the photographs of award winning photographer Charles A. “Charlie” Lowe, who worked at the Times from 1957 to 1981 before his death from lung cancer at age 49. The show will also feature the work of 13 other photographers.
The 13 photographers have all worked with the Times and live in Gloucester or the surrounding area and have been working with the collections team to develop narratives around the photos they took, Barker said. The exhibit will close out Gloucester’s 400+ anniversary year for the museum and run until March 17, 2024.
Ethan Forman may be contacted at 978-675-2714,or at [email protected].