Visitors to this museum will get an up-close look at 17th-century Pilgrim culture. Exhibits are housed inside a grand Greek Revival building, where architecture and artwork reflect successive periods of patriotic fervor in the United States.
Among the artifacts on display are William Bradford’s Bible, a 1651 depiction of Edward Winslow, a cradle from England that belonged to Mayflower-born Peregrine White, and numerous tankards, teapots, porringers, and other household items from the 1600s.
The Pilgrim Society, incorporated in 1820 to “perpetuate the memory of the virtues, the enterprize, and unparalleled sufferings of [the Pilgrims],” opened the museum in 1824. A sturdy McKim, Mead & White granite temple portico, a gift from the New England Society in New York City, was added to the facade in the 1920s.
Immense paintings on the gallery’s walls reflect the nostalgic impulses of the 19th and 20th-centuries, when the Pilgrim story was promoted as a dramatic saga of bravery and perseverance. Recent exhibitions and programs relay a more complex reality. They examine settler contact with the enduring indigenous Wampanoag people and uncover the experiences of women at the colony.
The museum contains manuscripts that detail firsthand accounts of what actually happened at that gathering in 1621. There are also online resources on topics such as the evolution of the Thanksgiving holiday from three separate traditions. A non-lending library is open inside for researchers by appointment only.
Know Before You Go
Located on Route 3A. Open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, including Thanksgiving Day.