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History & Mission

Our mission is to inspire appreciation, understanding and stewardship of our natural environment and wildlife through discovery and learning.

The Thornton W. Burgess Society/Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History have entered into serious discussions about joining together to become the Cape Cod Museums of Natural History, a coalition of nature centers from Sandwich to the outer Cape. The coalition will maintain the identities of both organizations with a common vision and with the potential to expand, enrich and integrate programs on both the East Sandwich and Brewster campuses.

With an eye toward a balanced operating budget and financial security for the future, the mission of the Cape Cod Museums of Natural History will be to “inspire appreciation, understanding and stewardship of our natural environment and wildlife, through discovery and learning,” and to preserve and promote the legacies of naturalists Thornton W. Burgess and John Hay.

Co-founded by naturalist and author John Hay early in 1954, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster offers a variety of year-round programs and exhibits to fulfill the mission of the organizations. The late John Hay, author of 18 books, is considered among the top nature writers in America, along with Thornton W. Burgess, the author of more than 70 children's books including Old Mother Westwind and The Adventures of Peter Cottontail. A Sandwich native, Burgess was also an influential presence in the early 20th century conservation movement. During the earliest days of radio, he used his Radio Nature League program to create bird and wildlife sanctuaries, promote legislation to protect migratory birds and advance the work of prestigious scientists and researchers.

Under this union, successful programs and exhibits at both organizations will be sustained, along with the historic Green Briar Jam Kitchen. The Cape Cod Museums of Natural History will engage children and adults in high quality programs, classes, lectures, panel discussions, workshops, films, walks, field trips, traditions, and interactive exhibits. Through these activities the many facets of the natural world and the reciprocal impacts that humans and nature exert on each other will be emphasized. We will also explore our potential as centers for developing and motivating citizen scientists and amateur naturalists in the spirit of both noted authors and conservationists. The Museums will be venues for discussion of important issues related to the natural world, especially on Cape Cod.