For fans of Edward Gorey, a trip to his former home turned museum in Cape Cod, MA is often an opportunity to feel like they have gotten to know the artist on a whole new level. Even visitors who do not know too much about the man or his art will gain a whole new appreciation of Gorey.
When he died (in 2000), the house was reopened as a museum to honor his work, his life, and his focus on animal welfare (Gorey devoted a large amount of time and money to many animal related charities throughout this life). Gorey was well known for his prolific and diverse works, writing more than one hundred books.
The Edward Gorey House features a wide variety of exhibits, both permanent, traveling and rotating. Check with the house before visiting to see what is on display as exhibits can change frequently.
Cabinet of Curiosities - Throughout the years that Gorey lived on the premises, he collected a unique variety of objects that he thought were curious and interesting. This collection highlights a few of his more prized possessions, which vary between expensive lithographs and art that he found at yard sales. Gorey was not particular about what he would collect, and would pick up almost anything that he through contained value (which was not always just monetary).
He kept the majority of these collectibles in a room that some modern people may say looks like a hoarding situation, although it has affectionately been called a Wunderkammer (a rough translation would be Cabinet of Curiosities, hence the name of this exhibit). However, the current exhibit has some of the more interesting curiosities arranged in a more visitor friendly way. Although some of the object may not look like much (for example, a potato masher is featured prominently), they were all very important to Gorey.
Artifacts from Gorey’s Archives - Another recent exhibit was a collection of artifacts from Gorey’s archives. Featuring drawings that go back all the way into his childhood (Gorey started drawing at age 2) and progressing through his teenage years (which were preserved by his mother, Helen) and into adulthood, this collection is a great, rare look into the development of a mind that became one of the most well-known and unique artists of this generation. Most of the artwork have dates on them, although some are labeled only with an estimated guess. There are even a few only recently published works from some unfinished projects that were closer to Gorey’s heart (The Angel, for instance, and a work called Poobelle featuring a guinea pig) for visitors to check out.
Etchings - This collection is a special look at some original etchings, printmaking plates, sculptures and collagraphs (which is a collage assembled on a printing plate) from Gorey, with a specific focus on his love of elephants and other animals (including some that exist only in his head).
The Gorey House participates in the statewide Free Fun Friday program (along with over 70 other museums in the state), which is a day of free admission on specific Fridays in the summer. Check the website for more information on what days this will be offered. Who does not love free admission?
Another more unique offering is the Fantastagorey event, an annual event at the museum featuring a full afternoon of activities for children like storytelling, face painting, scavenger hunts, tarot card reading, and animals… all with that specific Gorey twist. The museum also offers free admission on that day, as well as a few complimentary beverages and snacks for guests to enjoy. Come teach a new generation about the gift that is Edward Gorey, for free!
Commons Day is another annual free day (generally in September), this time featuring three other properties in the area (New Church, the Crocker House, and the Hallet House) as well. Check out the local museums for free and learn about the Yarmouth Port area. Make a day of it!
There is a small gift store on the premises offering a variety of special Edward Gorey themed gifts like jewelry, mugs, umbrellas, and more. There is an even larger selection online, featuring phone cases, soap, and shower curtains with shipping. There are also seasonal offerings like holiday cards for Christmas.
Edward Gorey House, 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth Port, MA, 02675, Phone: 508-362-3909