Art Matters: Staying Local To Support The Arts

Joanne Briana-GartnerENTERPRISE FILE PHOTO - Joanne Briana-Gartner

On December 31, the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester closed its doors for good.

Given that the museum's collection of arms and armor from all over the globe will be moving to the Worcester Art Museum one might think, "no harm done there, people can still see the pieces." But what someone who has never been to the Armory (perhaps because one is not the mother of four sons who revel in all things weapon-related) might not realize is that the art-deco building the Armory was housed in was built by John Woodman Higgins in the late 1920s specifically to house his collection. The building itself is a work of art, created on the inside to mimic a medieval castle complete with a Great Hall, high ceilings and gothic arches. So you can move the artifacts but you may not be able to recreate the atmosphere in which they were once housed. And if you think there's something sad about that, then you and I have a lot in common.

Something like the closing of a boutique museum couldn't happen here on Cape Cod, right?

Here on Cape Cod we may not have an eclectic subject-specific museum dedicated to swords, shields and armor but we do have a museum devoted to glass and another that houses antique cars in a reproduction Shaker Round Barn. Farther down Cape we have a museum devoted to wireless communications, one to the Cape's maritime history and another to the Coast Guard. Just over the bridge are gems such as the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Plimoth Plantation, institutions that attract visitors from all over the globe—but when was the last time you made the 45-minute drive?

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All of these museums vie for our attention and much-needed admission dollars. Some of these museums you may have visited once, on a school trip or when company was in town, but all of them, down to the smallest historical society, mount changing exhibits every year, so really you owe it to yourself to visit annually.

A lot of people have taken the "Shop Local" campaign to heart, realizing the importance of patronizing their local main street businesses. It's time to remember the shop local mantra when it comes to the arts as well.

If you haven't already made a New Year's resolution, why not resolve to visit a local museum; one you've never been to before or one that you haven't frequented in a long time?

While I think my own record is pretty good, I'll confess that I've never been to the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum in Bourne although happily my kids went with their preschool class. So let me drop the gauntlet; I resolve to get there in 2014.

Where will you go?

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