GLOUCESTER, Mass. (February 17, 2021) – March 10, 2021 marks a year since the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declared a State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cape Ann Museum, in partnership with the City of Gloucester and LuminArtz, is presenting a temporary public art memorial from March 10 – 14 to acknowledge this important anniversary and commemorate the 35 individuals from Gloucester, 55 individuals from Cape Ann, and over 2,000 individuals from across Essex County who have died from the pandemic.
The Cape Ann Museum COVID-19 Memorial is comprised of three parts: a video art installation from LuminArtz, the Cape Ann Cairns Memorial, and the Gloucester Memorial Quilt. These interconnected projects seek to simultaneously humanize the unfathomably large number of deaths in the past year, place the deeply felt local losses in the broader national conversation, and provide a space for visitors to take steps on the long process of grief and healing. In recognition that the pandemic still continues, this memorial takes place outside at the Cape Ann Museum Green and is a temporary installation.
On Wednesday, March 10 at 6:00 pm, the Museum is presenting a Live-Streamed Virtual Memorial Ceremony that can be seen live on Facebook and YouTube. This virtual ceremony will serve as an opening for the Cape Ann Museum COVID-19 Memorial and a vigil for those lost. Due to current gathering restrictions, visitors will not be allowed onsite during the ceremony. Instead, they are encouraged to watch from home and visit the memorial in person afterwards.
The virtual ceremony will be comprised of local political representatives, community members, and artists including Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Senator Bruce Tarr, poet Caroline Harvey, musicians Brian King and Nathan Cohen, the Associated Clergy of Cape Ann, and representatives from the Cape Ann Museum.
About the Cape Ann Museum COVID-19 Memorial
The three simultaneous projects that make up the Cape Ann Museum’s COVID-19 Memorial recognize the local, regional, and national realities of the pandemic in unique yet interconnected ways. Visitors can reserve free, timed entrance to see the memorial at the CAM Green from Wednesday March 11 – Sunday, March 14 between 12:30 – 8:00 pm.
The Gloucester Memorial Quilt was coordinated by the Cape Ann Museum and Roseanne Cody, Board Member on the Gloucester Council of Aging, at the request of Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. This quilt memorializes the 35 Gloucester citizens who died as part of the COVID-19 Pandemic, some remain anonymous and others are personally identified by request of the families. The names were embroidered by Monograms by Diane out of Gloucester and the squares were quilted together by Ingrid Schillebeeckx-Rice, a member of the Burlington Quilters Guild. There is a long-standing tradition of quilts used to memorialize and comfort, most significantly the AIDs Memorial Quilt which was displayed for the first time in 1987 and continues to this day.
To commemorate the 55 individuals lost from across Cape Ann, Miranda Aisling, CAM’s Education Manager, will work with volunteers to build 55 cairns out of Cape Ann Granite in front of the White Ellery house. By request, the Museum will put small markers in front of a cairn to designate it for a specific individual who died of COVID-19. Unless personally requested, the cairns will remain anonymous, holding space for all those who have been lost from the region. The Museum encourages visitors to bring tokens of respect, traditionally small stones or flowers, which can be left on the cairns.
The Cape Ann Cairns and the Janet & William Ellery James Center will be illuminated by LuminArtz, a nonprofit that brings art to light collaborating with local artists, businesses, and the community to transform streetscapes into vibrant installations. Pamela Hersch, a Boston-based, multidisciplinary artist originally from Mexico, will create a video art installation that places the local COVID-19 deaths within the regional, state, and national context.
“Observing social distance practices to keep each other safe has left many of us wondering how we can process and acknowledge the tragic losses experienced locally, regionally, and internationally this past year,” says Oliver Barker, Director of the Cape Ann Museum. “Art and cultural institutions, so devastated by this tragedy, have a central role to play as we reopen in telling these stories and providing ways for all of us to grieve, remember, and heal. It’s our sincere hope that this memorial will help start that long process.”
The Cape Ann Museum encourages anyone who would like their loved one to be memorialized in these projects, or who would like to take part in constructing the Cape Ann Cairns on March 5 and 6, to reach out to Miranda Aisling at by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-283-0455 x125. Family members and friends are asked to provide the name of the deceased as well as their town so that the Museum can make sure they are included in the applicable levels of the memorial.
For more information about the Cape Ann Museum Covid-19 Memorial, visit www.capeannmuseum.org/covidmemorial