May 12, 2020

Julie LaFontaine, President and CEO of The Open Door, expresses her gratitude to the Cape Ann Museum membership during a video interview with Oliver Barker and videographer Jeff Barrows.

The Open Door works to alleviate hunger in Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham and Topsfield. Requests for their services have grown by over 40% since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The Cape Ann Museum membership has responded to our “Storms Rage” mailer by providing meaningful support to this vital community resource in need.

The Open Door - Gloucester

“The Cape Ann Museum is a community partner in every sense. The "Storms Rage, Gloucester Endures" banners are amazing and embrace our local culture in solidarity. Each and every one of us in Gloucester has weathered storms and can truly relate to that message. It is a powerful reminder that we will pull through and emerge stronger than before with a profound appreciation for our community, its history and the beauty behind every storm. We all look forward to celebrating those sentiments soon, together, at the museum.”

Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

Photographer Frank Robinson shot this picture of the “tent hospital” set up outside the Addison Gilbert Hospital in September 1918. The photograph was donated to the Museum by Harry Merchant in 2010.

This painting by Emile A. Gruppe (1896-1978) is owned by VNA Care and is currently on deposit at the Cape Ann Museum. It shows a thoroughly competent young nurse, ready to serve her community, standing at the top of the stairway that joins Friend and Main Streets.
Epidemics have a long history on Cape Ann, from diseases which decimated the Native American population, through waves of smallpox, to the present. In 1918, influenza swept through Cape Ann, sickening thousands and taking the lives of hundreds. Lydia Florence Griffin (1882-1966), head of the Gloucester District Nursing Assoc. during the crisis, summed it up this way:

We are now in the midst of this terrible epidemic. The whole city is stricken … The situation is critical, the hospitals are filled, the doctors are ill, and the District Nursing Association and the few nurses and doctors (are working) in relays… 

Happily, we are a rugged and resilient lot here on Cape Ann and emerged from the “terrible epidemic” of 1918 a stronger community. 

To learn more about the 1918 crisis and the community’s response to it, visit these sites:

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 on Cape Ann

Boston Epidemic Articles from 1918-1919

“In Gratitude”, the inaugural contemporary art installation at the newly named Cape Ann Museum Green, located at Grant Circle on Washington Street in Gloucester.

CAMContemporary: In Gratitude

This powerful illumination, set against the historic backdrop of the White-Ellery barn (1740), conveys a message of hope and gratitude to all frontline workers throughout the Cape Ann community and beyond. The message appears in English, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish and is dedicated to all those who work to keep our community safe and cared for during the COVID-19 crisis. This dedication includes all doctors, nurses, janitors, hospital staff and administrators, delivery drivers, grocery workers, teachers and emergency personnel as well as those within our community who are working to help one another.

This project was created by third generation Cape Ann artist Stephanie Terelak Benenson of Harbor Voices and LuminArtz.

“Art has the ability to connect people and create a sense of belonging. This simple visual gesture of appreciation is meant to celebrate the diverse group of essential workers operating at the frontline of this crisis and those working for the sustainability of our local businesses and the safety of each of us and our loved ones. This projection is meant to show our gratitude for their sacrifice and efforts on our behalf.”

Stephanie Terelak Benenson
Harbor Voices