Deborah Griffin Scanlon, Executive Director
Susan Fletcher Witzell, Archivist
Laura M. Reckford, chairman
Peter K. Simonds, vice chairman
Kathy Denham, secretary
Donald Aukamp, treasurer
Board of Directors
Becky Sue Epstein
Beth Ready Liles
In addition, a member of the Board of the Woods Hole Public Library represents the Library on the Museum Board.
The Woods Hole Historical Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation and celebration of the area’s unique and colorful past and present, beginning with its farming and fishing roots and wending through centuries of adventurous maritime enterprise, world-renowned scientific exploration and achievement, and the parallel history of summertime recreation that has transformed Cape Cod. This history is brought to life throughout the year with a roster of exhibits, talks, multimedia presentations, special publications, archival resources, as well as with the hands-on living history of our wooden boat-building and restoration programs.
A Brief History of the Museum
The Woods Hole Historical Collection was founded in 1973 as a sub-committee of the Woods Hole Library. In 1976 it moved into its own building, Bradley House, next door to the Library. By 1995-1996, two more buildings had been moved to the site: the Yale Workshop and the Swift Barn housing the Small Boat Museum, and the name of the organization was changed to the Woods Hole Historical Museum.
The Woods Hole Historical Collection continues as the Archive portion of the Museum, as well as in the publishing of books and the journal Spritsail.
The Museum Archives (also known as the Woods Hole Historical Collection) are open for research year round on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM to 2 PM and by appointment.
The Museum Galleries and buildings are open from mid June to mid October, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM. The Museum galleries are closed from mid October to mid June.
A guided Walking Tour of Woods Hole is featured every Tuesday at 10 AM during July and August.
Directions to the Museum
Directions to the Museum
The Woods Hole Historical Museum is located at 579 Woods Hole Road in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Woods Hole is a part of the town of Falmouth.
From the Cape Cod Canal, follow Route 28 south. Entering Falmouth, follow the signs for the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. From Falmouth, it is approximately 4 miles to Woods Hole. You will go through a traffic light at about 2 miles. One mile after that there will be a flashing yellow light for the fire station. Just before the village of Woods Hole, Little Harbor appears on your left, and, on the right, you will see the sign for the Museum. The Museum campus is on the right, next to the Woods Hole Library, and, just before the left hand turn for the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry. We have a small parking lot for our patrons but you may park, if necessary, at the Library next door when it is closed.
We welcome bicycles! We are at the Woods Hole end of the Shining Sea Bikeway. The Bikeway ends in the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry parking lot. Turn right and go up the hill on Railroad Avenue, cross the street to the Woods Hole Library (a fieldstone building) and we are right next door. A bike rack is available near the front door.
Allow at least 45 minutes for your visit.
Built around 1804, Bradley House was bought by Captain William H. Bradley at auction in 1821 for $339. It was home to the Bradley family for many years. Joseph Story Fay bought it from the widowed Mrs. Betsey Bradley in 1871 with the proviso that she could live there for “the balance of her natural life.” In 1902 it was moved by the Fay family to its present location, a few hundred feet west along Woods Hole Road and turned 90 degrees. It was rented to many tenants over the years. In 1948, it was donated to the Woods Hole Library, still rented out and also used as a doctor’s office. It was restored and made into a museum in 1976.
Bradley House contains three galleries. Two galleries show exhibits that generally change each year. The third gallery contains a permanent scale model of Woods Hole, circa 1895.
The Archives (Woods Hole Historical Collection) and the offices of the museum are also in Bradley House.
The Woods Hole Historical Museum Shop is also located in Bradley House. The shop offers a wide array of interesting and unique gifts for all ages.
The Small Boat Museum
The Swift Barn was built in 1877 by E. E. Swift for $80.71, labor and materials. It now houses the Small Boat Museum. Displays include an 1890s Woods Hole Spritsail boat (SPY); a Herreshoff 12 1/2, a Cape Cod Knockabout, a Mirror dinghy, a 1922 Old Town canoe, a Woods Hole Chamberlain dory and many boat models and maritime artifacts. Other small boats on the campus include two more Cape Cod Knockabouts, two Beetle cat boats under restoration and our latest gift: a 1905 Spritsail boat.
Be sure to go around the far end of the Swift Barn to see the children’s inter-active exhibit. There kids can climb aboard the Cape Cod Knockabout Penguin and sail the Sound in their imaginations. People can try their hand at tying knots: the bowline and the clove hitch, and feel the Power of Pulleys.