Nancy 3. Hoffman put down her Serenelli accordion. “I’ve been trying hard to learn when people are smiling,” she said. As the curator of the world’s only umbrella cover museum, she ends each tour with a song about the beauty of the mundane.
“I could tell you were smiling, thank you,” she told us.
Past the flurry of travelers arriving from the ferry, Nancy’s museum is an unassuming white building; a blandness Nancy counteracts by enthusiastically playing her accordion while wearing a vibrant umbrella-shaped hat to entice wandering mainlanders inside.
It takes someone beautifully eccentric to devote over twenty years of their life to the mundane. Her yellowed accordion keys marks those countless summers performing for her guests. What will bring you back is Nancy’s delightful personality, bursting with joie de vivre. Her dedication to the mundane both provides a flash of entertainment but is an experience that grounds you. People around the world felt a similar appreciation for her passion, gifting over two thousand orphaned umbrella covers to the museum spanning seventy-one countries. Back in 2012, her museum got further recognition by a Guinness World Record plaque for the most umbrella covers — though they held no such record prior. She still holds her title to this day.
The pandemic forced the museum to become open-air, condensed to two small tents on a dirt path off the main road. The tent sports a limited selection of umbrella covers which line the parameter with string and clothespins. In an almost humorous juxtaposition, Nancy dons a plastic face shield with the museum’s catchphrase “Celebrate the Mundane”. She no longer guides you through her collection, but watches from an enclosed area outside of the tent, ensuring six feet of space from her guests. The pandemic has stripped any remaining normalcy in viewing her umbrella covers; however, that only increases the value in keeping this museum open. In a time where leaving the house is an infrequent occurrence, Nancy’s museum encourages people to take appreciation in the little things.