CAPE MAY – “Collecting History: Personal Collections of Cape May's African American Community” opens Jan. 19 on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., Cape May.

"Interesting" collections from many local individuals, including three elementary students, will be presented by the Center for Community Arts (CCA) in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC). The exhibit is open to the public through April 14. Admission is free.

"We've put together a variety of collections we thought would be interesting," said Hope Gaines, a member of the CCA's history committee who helped put the exhibit together. "Collecting is a lifelong passion for many individuals who hunt, preserve and curate items of importance and interest; it's not just the object that holds curiosity, but the story it has to tell."

Each year, the CCA presents an exhibit that highlights and illuminates African American life and history in Cape May and the surrounding region. This year's exhibit presents never-before-seen personal collections of African-American dolls, African stamps, postcards, hats, books, quilts, art and pocket watches along with artifacts from the collection of Cape May African American civic leader and teacher John Nash, according to Gaines.

Nash was a beloved community historian whose dedication to collecting Cape May's African American history formed the basis for CCA's John and Janet Nash African American History Archives. The exhibit will also display items from the African art collection of the late Rev. Robert Davis, who led Cape May’s Macedonia Baptist Church for over 40 years.

In addition, Gaines said CCA members asked students from the talented and gifted class at Cape May Elementary if there were any interested in participating in the exhibit and three students were.

The students, one in third grade, one in fourth and one in fifth grade, will display a collection of spinners, rocks and homemade bracelets. School Superintendent Victoria Zelenak's collection of petrified cupcakes will also be on display.

The public is invited to an exhibit-opening celebration Jan. 21 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) at 4 p.m. at the Carroll Gallery in the Carriage House on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate.

The exhibit is open to the public as follows: Saturdays, Jan. 19-Feb. 9, noon-3 p.m.; Feb. 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Feb. 17, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb. 18, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.; Saturdays, Feb. 23-March 16, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sundays, March 17-24, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., March 22, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and March 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit is open daily, March 25-April 14; hours vary.

CCA is a multicultural, educational, non-profit organization whose arts and humanities programs foster creativity, community-building, and appreciation for the rich diversity of our world. The Center’s Community History Program is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and celebrating Cape May’s African-American heritage through exhibits, tours, and its John and Janet Nash African American History Archives.

The Center runs youth arts programs and operates WCFA-LP 101.5 FM, a community radio station. For further information, call 609-884-7525 or access CCA’s website at www.centerforcommunityarts.org

MAC is a multifaceted, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all.

For information about the exhibit schedule, or MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s website at www.capemaymac.org

To contact Karen Knight, email kknight@cmcherald.com.

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