The quiet season

January 24, 2018


I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that January is not my favorite month. Christmas, my favorite time of year, is just behind us, which means I have a long time to wait until that merry season rolls around again. Besides the cold weather, January means you have to make good on all those resolutions to lose the extra pounds delivered with the Christmas cookies, or clean the messy closet where you shoved all the Christmas leftovers.


Here at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) in Cape May, January is catch-up time for us, too. Time to give the Physick House a good, thorough cleaning. Time to get the trolleys serviced before Spring comes with more tours. Time to give all of us who put in countless hours on holiday tours and events a needed breather. And it’s a good time to take stock of how 2017 treated us.


One of the things that always heartens me is the continuing number of school children from throughout the county and local region who are able to experience our historic sites. In 2017, we reached  22,500 kids (an 80 percent increase over 2016), those who came through our doors at the Physick Estate, the Cape May Lighthouse or the World War II Lookout Tower, as well as those in classrooms who heard our stories thanks to our corps of museum educators. What makes this especially gratifying is that it all happened at no cost to the kids or the schools. Various fundraising events, most notably the annual Craft Beer & Crab Festival in August, make this possible.


The irony of my current association with MAC never fails to amuse me, since history was one of my least favorite subjects as a student. Just as I once did, I know that for most kids, a field trip here is a way to get out of classes and an in-class presentation about the Lighthouse beats a math or history lesson hands-down. Hopefully, though, some of them will take away the real lesson, which is about the amazing monuments to our past for which we at MAC act as caretakers. There aren’t a whole lot of towns that can take pride in the important historic sites we generally take for granted.


This is also our time for planning ahead here at MAC. What can we do better this year? What did we do last year that our visitors loved and what should we chalk up to experience and never, ever do again? I think if there were such things as patents for RE-invention, we would hold them all. While many of our tours and events are timeless and always popular, others come into and out of favor and those are the things we use our quiet season to tweak, polish and tune.


It doesn’t last too long, this quiet time of year. Before you know it, Presidents’ Weekend will roll around, which is when the house needs to be cleaned and polished and the trolleys tuned, as our schedule gears up once again. I like walking across the lawn and greeting visitors, or seeing the trolleys pull out of the driveway with lots of eager riders. . It’s nice to have this time for a breather, but I can honestly say that I’m glad it doesn’t last too long. I think even our resident ghosts get lonely in January.


-- Jean Barraclough is manager of publications & website at MAC