AROUND CAPE ANN: Hammond Castle opens with new offerings | Lifestyle

Hammond Castle Museum will open for its 47th season on April Fools Day, Friday, April 1.

And it’s no joke that Gloucester residents will be able to take free self-guided tours on “Gloucester Gratis Days” on Tuesdays beginning in May when the castle will be open daily. For April, hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

“So many in the community visited the museum as children, but maybe have not returned since their childhoods. As one of their community museums, we want our neighbors to feel a sense of belonging here,” said Linda Harvey, executive director. “We hope to better engage our community through the Gloucester Free Days. We are not the same museum we were years ago.”

Over this season, Hammond Castle Museum will offer nearly 70 educational and community programs, including candlelight and spiritualism tours, movies on the back lawn, and Arms & Armor presentations. Some new programs are a day of puppetry with Vaudeville Puppets, an animal adoption day with Cape Ann Animal Aid, and a New Year’s Eve Ball.

Self-guided tours require registration, which can be made online at

The museum also announced it is embarking on a multi-year digitization project through new labels utilizing QR codes to offer a more in-depth look and more details about its expansive collection.

The ongoing effort seeks to digitize founder John Hays Hammond Jr.’s personal effects, items related to his scientific career, and his extensive collection of historical artifacts that span centuries. The museum will begin to implement this new signage and labels on all display items.

The phased rollout of QR codes will offer guests an immersive experience by providing expanded information, images, videos and audio clips. The first exhibit to offer the digitized content is “Hammond the Explorer,” which focuses on Hammond’s travels throughout Europe, the Caribbean and Canada. This new exhibit for the 2022 season will be available starting on April 1. This exhibit also offers a multi-sensory experience of artifacts and sounds relevant to Hammond’s travels from him.

Since stepping into the role of curatorial director at the start of 2021, John Leysath has spearheaded this effort to modernize the collection’s catalog as well as the way in which the collection is presented to the public.

“As a result of the digitization process and reorganization of our collection, which quietly began nearly a year ago, new details have emerged about Hammond, his life and his work, and we are able to piece together a more complete picture than ever before, said Leysath. “This is just one piece of how the museum is continuing to evolve.”

The museum, a non-profit organization, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Children’s gardening book event

Local author and illustrator Kari Percival will hold a reading and signing for “How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside,” her debut picture book for gardening toddlers and preschoolers. The event takes place at Backyard Growers Seed Giveaway and Swap on Saturday, April 2, at 11 am, at Burnham’s Field in Gloucester.

Percival, an environmental educator and Backyard Growers illustrator, had a hunch that anyone who is big enough to stick their hands in the dirt is big enough to give gardening a try, according to a press release. This picture book is an introduction to the wonders of gardening for toddlers and preschoolers.

“In this deceptively simple, sparkling debut, a group of young children plant a garden in raised beds and watch it grow. Percival shows rather than tells, deploying a Q&A format that involves the children’s exclamations as well as conversational instructions,” according to a Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf starred review.

The book can be ordered at; and the purchase will support the nonprofit’s garden revolution. Percival is known locally for her her illustrated Backyard Growers program posters over the years. To view these works, visit:

The book was inspired by the Early Birds Garden Club, which Percival founded with her small children in Malden. They gathered in a neighborhood garden with other families to learn how to grow strawberries, plant peas and “meet worms.” Toddlers learned about scientific inquiry and began a journey related to healthy eating. The book shares tips on meeting ladybugs and the joys of mud-making. The book is a new release from RISEx Penguin Workshop, a new imprint dedicated to the empowerment of children ages 0 to 5.

An award-winning artist and former Gloucester resident, Percival studied environmental science at Antioch University New England, before teaching inquiry-based middle school science in Boston-area public schools.

Local Colors April Artist

Local ceramic artist Peter Black will be the featured artist at the Local Colors Artists Cooperative during April. Black will display his imaginative ceramics which include planters, vases, bowls, and one-of-a-kind serving dishes. Black works with different clays, including porcelain, earthenware and stoneware. The pieces are constructed using many combinations of clay work, including wheel-throwing, hand building, and slipcasting to create his unique and functional designs from him.

Black describes his work as works “conceived and created to serve as objects that can be used and also serve as decorative statement pieces in any living space.”

“Local Colors is my year-round home for displaying work and this month I’m happy to be able to accent my works with spring in mind,” said Black, a Gloucester resident.

The gallery is at 121 Main St. in downtown Gloucester. For more information, visit:

New experimental art show opens

The Experimental Group opens its 17th group exhibition, “Unexpected No. Seventeen,” at Jane Deering Gallery, 19 Pleasant St., Gloucester. Works on view in the exhibition include paintings, mixed-media, graphics, sculpture, digital art and photography. The exhibition runs April 2 to 30. Gallery hours are Friday and Saturday, from 1 to 5 pm; and Sunday, 1 to 4 pm, or by appointment at 978-886-4582.

The Experimental Group, supported by the Rockport Art Association & Museum, is a creative forum with a goal to increase public awareness and foster self-expression by bringing artists together to share ideas. For more details, visit:

Around Cape Ann is a column devoted to events happening on Cape Ann and artists from Cape Ann performing elsewhere. If you would like to submit an item, contact Gail McCarthy at 978-675-2706 or at least two weeks in advance.


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