Ben Ridings, of Roebling, is Cape May MAC's Registrar, working behind the scenes on the organization's two-person curatorial team, under Curator Gail Capehart. As Registrar, Ben manages and maintains the organization's artifacts. Perhaps some might recognize him through his more visible role: portraying Dr Emlen Physick for visitors during Cape May MAC tours and events. As historical interpreter, Ben stays in character of Cape May's most prominent Victorian citizen throughout his intera
ctions with visitors, invigorating their experience at the estate.
"My favorite part of portraying Dr. Phy
sick is the interaction with the public," he said. "I have had fantastic banter back and forth with folks, even with children who couldn't be more than five years old. They were genuinely interested in the past, and we are continuing to find ways to engage with the public."
Since the COVID-19 crisis, Ben has been working from home and adapted and changed to adjust to the temporary closure.
"I've had to adapt quite a bit due to the COVID-19 virus. My primary job as Registrar is managing the artifacts at our historic locations. Working from home, I had to adjust. I started creating weekly short Cape May history videos, in addition to posting interesting facts about the Physick family, and our World War II Lookout Tower. I even created a presentation about the War Dogs of World War II."
Ben recently took on the role of Friends of the World War II Tower Coordinator, in addition to his other responsibilities.
"It has been a strange transition as the new Coordinator for the Friends of the World War II Tower, because of COVID-19. I look forward to finding ways to honor the brave men and women who served our country during World War II and beyond."
Working with the artifacts in Cape May MAC's three historic sites as Registrar can be a bit like tracking down clues and solving a mystery.
"As Registrar, I enjoy it when I discover a historical fact about the Physick family, Cape May, or a particular artifact that was previously unknown to us," he said.
Ben's family moved to the Cape May area after he graduated from high school. He and his wife and daughter now live farther north. His favorite part of the job is working with colleagues.
"I genuinely enjoy working with all of the wonderful people associated with Cape May MAC. It's the reason I continue, despite my two-hour commute."
Ben is a graduate of Stockton University with a degree in anthropology and sociology. His passion for history shines through all his roles.
"I have taken what I have learned and applied it historically," he said. "I am fascinated by the everyday lives of not just the Physick family, but their friends and servants."