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A Cabinet of Wonders: Inside the Edward Gorey House

Quirky and unassuming, this is one of Yarmouth Port's best-kept secrets

One of Yarmouth Port's best-kept secrets, the quirky and unassuming Edward Gorey House, located just off Route 6A, is a house museum that celebrates and preserves the legacy of the famous illustrator Edward Gorey. Best known for his animated introductions to PBS Mystery! and self-authored and illustrated books like The Doubtful Guest and The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey pioneered a distinctive style of pen and ink drawings that is simultaneously comical and unsettling.

Gorey House

Fun for kids and adults alike, the House offers docent-led tours, family activities and events, and unique exhibits. “The Edward Gorey House is a very unique museum about a very unique artist,” explains curator Gregory Hischak. “Edward was a gifted writer and artist who tackled very dark subject matter in a very light and amusing way—which is exactly how we strive to make the museum feel.”

Edward St. John Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925. A child prodigy, Gorey began drawing at the age of two. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he contributed illustrations to school publications, art shows, and Chicago newspapers. After graduating from Harvard in 1952, he accepted a position with Doubleday Anchor in New York City and quickly became recognized as a major commercial illustrator.

Gorey’s first book, The Unstrung Harp, was published in 1953 and is considered a major precursor to today’s graphic novel. Over the course of his long career, Gorey wrote more than one hundred books, the last of which was published in 1999, only one year before his death.

In 1979, Gorey purchased a two-hundred-year-old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth Port, where he began to live year-round in 1983. The house became a museum after his death. “The museum, which was formerly Edward’s house, reinvents itself yearly, each time to show another aspect of Edward's body of work,” Hischak says.

The 2017 exhibition, Edward Gorey's Cabinet of Curiosities, explores Gorey’s massive personal collection of objects, ranging from potato mashers and graters to toys, antiques, and other oddities. “This year, we have turned the House into a Wunderkammer of Edward’s collections,” Hischak says. “Edward collected a lot of stuff.” A sixteenth-century forerunner to the modern-day museum, a Wunderkammer (“cabinet of wonders” or “cabinet of curiosities”) consists of a highly unorganized collection of oddities, antiques, natural objects, and more.

The House’s Wunderkammer explores the objects that Gorey amassed during his years on the Cape—objects he found interesting, that stimulated his imagination, and that brought him joy.

Plan to spend an hour exploring the House and its grounds. “The most surprising thing about the House, for those who perceive Edward as a dark, gothic recluse is how bright and airy the House is, and how fun it is,” Hischak explains. “Not just in the changing exhibit but in the docent-led tours and such delights as The Gashlycrumb Tinies Scavenger Hunt—murderous fun for all ages!”

Illustration from The Gashlycrumb Tinies | Courtesy of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust

FUN IDEAS & TRAVEL TIPS

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Five Family-Friendly Stops along Route 6A Bowling and Games at Ryan's Amusements Hidden Hollow and Family Fun Fridays at Heritage Family Fun at Wackenhammer's Shipwreck! Navy Submarine, S-19 Runs Aground on Nauset Bar in Eastham Shipwreck! Stockholm sinks Andrea Doria off Chatham Shipwreck! The Competitor Cape Cod Houses The Cape Cod Canal Mooncussers of Cape Cod What's Your Cape Cod IQ? Shipwreck! The Argo Merchant Six Fun History Stops on Cape Cod Glimpse the Nineteenth Century at Pairpoint Glass Four Tips for First-Time Birders Six Spots for Spectacular Cape Cod Birding P-Town Dune Shack Applications Available Gardens Aglow Lights up Cape Cod for the Holidays Four places to catch a ferry to the islands Head to Woods Hole for a Day of Ocean Discovery Writers on the Nature of Cape Cod Five Fun Things to do in October on Cape Cod Cranberries & Blueberries: Berry Interesting Cape Cod Shines September Festivals: Come Celebrate Cape Cod Lobster Roll Luncheons A Day at Hyannis Harbor: Summertime at the Artist Shanties Fishing for Flounder with Captain Chip Chatham goes "Back to the Future" in June Veg Out (and More) at One of Cape Cod's Farmers Markets An afternoon in South Yarmouth: Mini golf, ice cream & more Five Reasons to Add a Melody Tent Show to Your Cape Cod Vacation Itinerary Cape Cod Shipwreck: Elsie G. 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Daffodil Alert: Spring Has Sprung on Cape Cod Scuba Diving to Stand Up Paddleboarding The Great Fried Clam Roll Debate: Strips or Whole-Belly Cape Cod Vacation Must: Tantalizing Treats from the Raw Bar Three Tips for a Green Cape Cod Vacation A New Way to Explore: Rock Hunting on Cape Cod An Early Morning Walk--Cape Cod All to Yourself Ten Reasons Cape Cod is THE Destination for Your Next Vacation Kids: Catch Some Air at a Cape Cod Skatepark Grab Your Binoculars--It's Time to Go Birdwatching on Cape Cod Cape Cod Beachcombing: A Dozen Sea Shells You Will Surely Find The Delicate Art of Glass Blowing: Six Cape Cod Studios & a Museum to Visit Bowling, Burgers & Brew--the Lanes in Mashpee has it all All Things Aquatic: Five Cool Cape Cod Aquariums The Brazilian Grill in Hyannis: Not Just For Meat-Lovers Seven Sure Ways to Make Your Cape Cod Valentine's Day Romantic Brilliant Beacons: Take a Tour of the Cape's Many Lighthouses Brrr....Warm Up on Cape Cod with a Spicy Burrito Nine Cape Cod Courses Perfect "Fore" a Round of Golf Celebrate Cape Cod: Buy Fresh, Buy Local Say Cheese: Five Places to Take the Perfect Cape Cod Picture Go Back in Time at These Five Historic Cape Cod Homes Thick & Creamy, Loaded with Clams, How Do You Like Your Chowder? 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Washington Vintage Christmas at Strawbery Banke Nineteenth Century New England Christmas Somerville Chocolate Factory Life of a Sailor on Old Ironsides An In-Depth Look at Boston Duck Tours Citi Performing Arts Center Shapes the Boston Art Scene Inside Look at Cape Ann Whale Watch Touring the Dark Side of Boston Meet the Wolfman The Up and Coming Eateries of East Boston Three Top Maine Campsites Behind the Scenes of the Boston Tea Party Springtime Fun in Boston Itinerary for a Single Day in Salem Discover the best hiking trails in Massachusetts In a Jam in Sandwich Trains Trains Trains Zip Into Summer Ski Across New England Massachusetts Movie Moments Visit Historic Salem in Massachusetts Historical Fun in Connecticut Make it Count in Massachusetts History on Cape Cod Inspired Fun in New Hampshire Top Things to Do In Rhode Island See the Beautiful Berkshires Ship Up to Boston for Historical Fun
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WHAT'S NEARBY?

Massachusetts: Boston

Other States: Connecticut Maine Massachusetts New Hampshire Rhode Island

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