A LOCAL GEM: Cape Ann Museum’s “The Porch-Rait Project”


Last spring, while people were trying to adjust to a whole new way of living and relating to each other with everyday changes brought about by COVID, four photographers—Jason Grow, Bill Sumner, Paul Cary Goldberg and Shawn G. Henry—began shooting intimate portraits of families around Cape Ann in front of their homes, and on their front porches. 

And for the last month, as part of the Cape Ann Museum’s debut of its Green campus, an expansive, modern museum annex off Washington Street in Gloucester, these photographs have been on exhibit as part of “The Porch-Rait Project.”  Originally the idea of photographer Bill Sumner, it features a series a framed and digital gallery of 245 images of families from Essex, Manchester, Rockport and Gloucester, all striking and personal. 

“As a whole, the images make us feel good about who we are and remind us of the comfort and familiarity of home. But the photographs do not show us everyone, and they remind us of the disparities that exist among the many households that make up our beloved community,” said Oliver Barker, executive director of the museum. 

The exhibit is in the museum’s Janet and William Ellery James Center, a contemporary structure designed for exhibits like this one, and large enough (especially with its giant industrial levered glass doors that can open to the expansive green quad) for events.  The center also has a state-of-the-art storage system to handle the museum’s growing archive and properly process and maintain important art that might come on loan from other museums.

“The Porch-Rait Project” was a partnership with The Open Door, a nonprofit agency headquartered in Gloucester that helps those in need.  Grow, Sumner, Goldberg and Henry all donated their time, and over the course of a few short weeks, they captured hundreds of images and raised just over $30,000 for The Open Door.

The CAM Green campus is open on limited hours, and reservations are required.  Check the museum’s website for details.  This fall, the Cape Ann Museum is hosting a series of outdoor walking tours that blend history, art, and a brisk walk (or a stroll … it’s up to you).  Enjoy.