By K. David Weidner, Ph.D., Executive Director
At this time last year, we were gearing up for a very exciting 2020. With the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing in Provincetown, and a season of great programs and commemorations planned, we never imagined the year that would end up unfolding. Despite not being able to have all the incredible events, I am grateful to say that the Pilgrim Monument continued to stand tall in 2020 and had a successful year despite the Coronavirus challenges that have shaken our world. On a bright note, here are some of our fondest memories from this past year.
The band played on
Our 2020 program began in February with the continuation of our popular Chamber Music for the Outer Cape concerts and the ‘American Voices’ series. Led by our Artistic Director, Craig Combs, DMA., the ‘America Sings’ program delighted attendees with music from the Outer Cape Chorale Chamber Singers; baritone John Whittlesey; and sopranos, Alisa Jordheim and Halcyone Hurst. It was a wonderful evening of music and song, but little did we know this would be the last group event held at the Museum in 2020.
The Chamber Music for the Outer Cape program stayed healthy this past year, producing virtual concerts in August and December.
Lifting our game
During mid-spring, we watched a more than 100 year-old vision become a reality. Construction crews broke ground and the inclined elevator that will extend PMPM’s front down to Bradford Street and Provincetown Center, began to take shape.
The Bradford Access Project is more than just an inclined elevator. It will provide a true economic link between High Pole Hill and our bustling town. The elevator will promote our message of inclusion by allowing everyone, regardless of ability, to reach the top of the hill with ease and enjoy our historic Monument and new exhibit. We cannot wait for it to open in late spring of 2021.
Standing bright for the community
In May, the Pilgrim Monument changed its colors to salute our front line workers. The Monument was bathed in red light, honoring workers from healthcare admins to nurses to doctors, the lifeblood of our health system. The topo loggia, the crown of the monument, was blue, to acknowledge appreciation to our first responders like paramedics, firefighters, police and others in public safety.
Those on the frontlines include a lot more than our brave doctors, nurses and public safety teams. We cannot forget grocery clerks, postal carriers and the service and hospitality industries who work hard to keep life “normal” for the rest of us. To everyone on the front lines, keeping our country moving, we say ‘thank you.’
Shining in darkness for justice and equality
On Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 8:46 p.m., the Pilgrim Monument, and other landmarks across the country, turned off their lights for nine nights, in honor of the last nine minutes of George Floyd’s life. We stood in solidarity with all who seek justice and equality and were grateful to see so many other monuments and organizations participating. Our mission as an institution is to advance education, learning and inclusion, and racism defies everything for which the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum stands.
Debut of Our Story
Certainly, a highlight of the year was the debut of our new exhibit – Our Story: The Complicated Relationship of the Indigenous Wampanoag and the Mayflower Pilgrims. Curated by Steven Peters of Wampanoag creative agency, SmokeSygnals, Our Story is the first permanent exhibit in the world to tell the story of the Wampanoag Nation’s history on Cape Cod, from the perspective of the Wampanoag.
The exhibit shows the accurate and transparent account of their time on Cape Cod, up to and including the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. Years in the making, we are proud to have the truth of Our Story in our Museum, as we strive to tell the accurate history of our region. We were very pleased by the overwhelming response from our patrons and members who raved about the new exhibit to the media. Our Story has been featured or mentioned in articles from our local Provincetown Banner, Provincetown Independent and Provincetown Magazine, to the Boston Globe, USA Today, TIME and Smithsonian. We hope you will see it for yourself in 2021.
Our digital transformation
Not only were we busy modernizing our facility this past year, but like the rest of the business world, we also participated in digital transformations. In addition to our chamber music concerts going virtual, so did our ticketing system, our Provincetown 400 gala fundraiser and the annual lighting ceremony.
We hosted our first virtual gala on Saturday, October 10. Friends and family of PMPM from around the world joined us for an evening of entertainment from musician, Zoe Lewis; a tour of Our Story with Steven Peters; and a live auction. The event was a huge success and a lot of fun!
Our final virtual event of the year was the annual lighting of the Pilgrim Monument. In honor of the 400th commemoration, we broke from the tradition of lighting the Monument the evening before Thanksgiving and did so on November 11th, which is the day the Mayflower Pilgrims noted in their diaries as having landed in Provincetown. They were still using the Julian calendar in 1620, which is the reason for the difference in dates.
We may not have gotten to do everything we had planned for 2020, but we still had a great year and we thank everyone who made it possible, from our patrons and members to our supporters and board of trustees. 2021 will be another great year for PMPM as we open our much awaited inclined elevator and continue to share Our Story with the world.
Many things will remain in 2021, like our online ticketing system which allows patrons to visit the Museum by appointment and our very strict standards for keeping the museum safe and clean for everyone. The Juried Art exhibition, produced with our friends at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) will continue to be on display in 2021 so that our visitors can enjoy the talents of our local artists.
We cannot wait to see you when we open next spring. Please continue to visit our website as we provide updates on our opening and the Bradford Access Project, new Chamber Music for the Outer Cape concerts and the exciting events we are noodling for 2021.
The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is reliant on the support of the community to provide a world-class institution that promotes our mission of truth, education, tolerance and inclusion. Please support PMPM during the offseason by becoming a member or making a donation. Thank you for your support in 2020! We can’t wait to see you this year!