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Provincetown :: Sunday, April 23rd 2017

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Interview with Jim Bakker

Director of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum

August 15th, 2010

I agreed to meet Jim at his new home, built in 1850. Brilliant dahlias fill the yard as he welcomed me. A recent move, packed boxes awaited his attention with curios and collections of old records and books already in place. We sat in two wing chairs and chatted about this elegant man’s life and passions.

''Napi Van Dereck asked me to do a benefit auction at PAAM in 1988. The rest is history.''

Q. You are an auctioneer, collector, painter and museum director. How did you get so involved in the arts?

A: My grandmother had a great collection of Chinese snuff boxes and paintings. She moved when I was a teenager and asked for my help. I labeled and catalogued all her work. It was my very first appraisal! Some of the work still has those labels on it.

Every weekend, I would take all my lawn mowing money and go to Skinners when it was still in a pasture. You could buy a box of stuff for three dollars. I would trade and sell and come out with more money and great stuff. Hooked, I left Harvard and became an auctioneer in 1979. It was the right move for me. My Boston based antique and painting auctions were very popular in the Eighties.

Q: How did you find your way to the Outer Cape?

A: A friend invited me to the ‘moonlight’ auction of Jimmy Simpson’s estate. I loved it. Napi Van Dereck asked me to do a benefit auction at PAAM in 1988 and the rest is history. Russell and I have lived between Provincetown and the Boston area ever since.

Q: Legend has it that Napi (Napi’s) and Reggie Cabral (A-House) used to come to your auctions and bid against each other.

A: That’s true. We all shared a great a passion for Provincetown art. The bidding was quite spirited when they attended.

Q: I bet! How did you become the executive director of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum?

A: In 1996, I was elected as a member of the board of the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association. By 2004, I was the Board’s President. When we started a search for a new executive director, it became evident that the candidates were hesitant to take the risk of moving to Provincetown. It made sense to have somebody that already had a footing here. I kept thinking, “Why not me?”

Q: After your huge success with the Rededication of the Pilgrim Monument, what is next for you?

A: We want to create a postage stamp of the monument and merge Napi’s art collection with the Provincetown Museum. That would be fantastic. Plus, I want to settle in and keep working on our house.

Q: Your gardens are fantastic! Are you the one with the green thumb?

A: No, that’s Russell. I’m the water boy.

Jim and I wandered around the house for awhile and ended up by the piano. He sat down and played ‘A Trip to Provincetown’ by E. C. Ackerman. We sang together, celebrating our great fortune to live in such an amazing place.

Columnist Laura Shabott loves to write about Provincetown and the people that make it so special.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
Fine Arts Work Center
Provincetown Art Association and Museum


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