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Discover, explore, and strengthen your connection to Martha’s Vineyard and its diverse heritage.

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Explore our ongoing, upcoming, and online exhibitions

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CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Jan 27, 2024 - Jul 14, 2024
The Hollinshead, Cox, and Fleischner Galleries

Clifford: Our Big Red Dog

Clifford the Big Red Dog has been delighting readers for over 60 years. This exhibit invites children and adults alike to play, explore, and learn about Clifford and the man who brought him to life, Norman Bridwell, who called the Vineyard home for over four decades.

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Feb 17, 2024 - May 5, 2024
The Adele H. Waggaman Community Gallery

Clearly Misunderstood: C.F. Giordano

The years of COVID were challenging, but for Islanders there were also moments of great creative expression. For some, it was a time for bringing to life projects that, under normal circumstances, would never have been imagined. This was the case for Charlie Giordano and the motorcycle he calls “Voodoo Doll.” Built over the course of two years in his West Tisbury shop, it is a love letter to art, motorcycles, and to perseverance.

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Mar 2, 2024 - May 26, 2024
The Grain Family Gallery

Percy E. Cowen: My Own Dearest Jane

Percy Cowen was an accomplished illustrator when he was sent overseas to serve in World War I. While at war, he wrote to his wife, Jane, at home on Martha’s Vineyard. Passed by the censors, but still illuminating, these letters were filled with drawings of Percy’s experiences. This exhibition features Cowen's correspondence, as well as his paintings and original illustrations for popular magazines of the day.

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COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

Woven Bag

Contemporary Wampanoag artists and artisans help us picture the world of their ancestors, the first inhabitants of this Island, by making objects using old and new materials while drawing on old and new techniques.

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Mary Norton Sampler

Mary H. Norton made this sampler in Holmes Hole (now Vineyard Haven) when she was around 12 years old.

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Jagging Wheel

Though most familiar in the form of whales’ teeth carved with pictures of ships, scrimshaw was an extremely varied art.

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Chappy

Mary Drake Coles learned to paint during childhood summers on Martha’s Vineyard, in her teens in Provincetown, and later at Smith College, in Paris, Majorca, Haiti, and New York.

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Zeb Tilton Portrait

Benton found inspiration on Martha’s Vineyard from his first visits to the Island in the 1920s until his death in 1975.

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Dancing Dolls (Brinquinho)

Mary Paiva Drouin, the daughter of a first-generation Portuguese immigrant family, recalls how her family’s cherished “dancing dolls” in traditional Portuguese dress were paraded through the streets of Oak Bluffs during the Holy Ghost Festival.

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Brickman’s Shirt

One of the earliest Jewish families to settle here, the Brickmans operated a shoe business on Main Street in Vineyard Haven that became Brickman’s department store.

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Dial Telephone Service Comes to Aquinnah

This photograph, staged in May 1955 to celebrate the introduction of dial telephone service in Chilmark and Gay Head, captures the tension between tradition and modernity.

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Gislaine Portrait

In 2017, the Museum exhibited photographer Mila Lowe’s “Local Immigrants Project.” Lowe undertook the project to document the wide diversity of recent  immigrants to the Island.

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Luce Dressing Box

Captain Richard G. Luce presented this box to his daughter, Abbie Bradford Luce, upon returning from one of his many long voyages.

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Life Preserver

Life preserver from the City of Columbus, which crashed on the underwater rocks of Devil’s Bridge in January 1884 when a gash was torn in the hull and seawater rushed into the steamer.

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Priscilla Pearl Necklaces

Manufactured in Hyannis at the Priscilla Laboratory, these glass and herring scale “pearls” were named “Priscilla Pearls” and sold around the country through mail order and at Lina Call’s Priscilla Pearl Shop in Edgartown.

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Violin

Owned by E. Gale Huntington, this violin was possibly carried around Cape Horn on a voyage by Menemsha fisherman Lyman Cottle.

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Sloop Drawing

A sloop: the backbone of Island ferry services before steam power.

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Monohansett

Monohansett (1862), depicted in this painting by J. P. Winegar, was the first reliable steam ferry to serve Martha’s Vineyard.

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Fall River Line Advertisement

Palatial “night boats” like Plymouth connected New York and Martha’s Vineyard.

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“Enchanted Isle” Poster

This 1934 travel poster promoted the Vineyard as a playground of the rich and stylish.

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Islander

Islander, which operated from 1950-2007, revolutionized ferry service to the Vineyard.

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Island Queen Advertisement

Summer “excursion boats” like the Island Queen carried day tourists to Oak Bluffs.

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Provincetown-Boston Airlines Timetable

Provincetown-Boston Airline was the Island’s leading air carrier for 40 years.

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Islander and Island Home

Islander (1950) passes her successor Island Home (2007) in Vineyard Haven Harbor.

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Satinet Sample

Hard-wearing satinet cloth: the West Tisbury woolen mill’s signature product.

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Vanderhoops at Aquinnah Circle

Harrison and Selina Vanderhoop selling Wampanoag crafts at Aquinnah Circle.

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King’s Paint Mill

Clay pigments from King’s Paint Mill in Chilmark tinted the houses of southern New England.

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Bricks on Pier

The signature product of the Roaring Brook brickyard awaits shipment to the mainland.

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Erford Burt Bass Boat

One of Erford Burt’s signature “bass boats” in the basin at Burt’s Boatyard on the Lagoon.

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Model of the SS Drottingholm

Van Ryper offered its customers affordable “models of ships on which you’ve sailed.”

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Dairy Cooperative Bottle

Martha’s Vineyard Cooperative Dairy helped the Island’s small farmers, but could not compete with mainland producers.

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Chilmark Chocolates Sign

Chilmark Chocolates was known for its delicious product, and its community spirit.

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Black Dog Catalog

The Black Dog began as a year-round restaurant, but became a lifestyle brand.

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Harpoon

The ancestors of the Wampanoag people who live here now fished using harpoons such as this one, which was found along the shore in Aquinnah.

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Joseph Belain Portrait

Over the course of 20 whaling voyages, Aquinnah-born Joseph Belain (1848-1926), served as harpooner, second mate, first mate, and twice as a replacement master.

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Whale and Porpoise Oil Samples

Beginning in the mid-19th century and ending in the 1940s, William F. Nye Company of New Bedford refined and processed whale and porpoise oil for various purposes.

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Nomansland Codfish Box

Salted and dried cod was sold to Fischer Brothers of Vineyard Haven, who packaged it in wooden boxes like this one and sold it locally as well as shipping it to New Bedford and Providence.

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Eel Pot

Before the 20th century, eels were caught and eaten in great numbers by islanders, who captured them in the fall and winter using pots like this one.

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Menemsha Swordfishing Fleet

Equipped by a tall mast for lookouts and a long narrow platform for the harpooner jutting out from the bow, “Sword boats” supplied a market in which swordfish was seen as a delicacy.

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“Dorothy and Everett” Weathervane

Using the vessels he knew as inspiration, local fisherman Jimmy Morgan made weathervanes and sold them in his small shop in Menemsha to supplement his income.

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Photograph of Fishermen

Fishermen could once make a good living selling the fish they caught in net traps along the northwest shore of the Vineyard.

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Chart of Holmes Hole

This view of Holmes Hole (now Vineyard Haven) harbor in 1781 looks familiar at first glance, but a closer look reveals unfamiliar features.

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The Harbor of Holmes Hole

Twelve years before this chart was drawn in 1847, the citizens of Holmes Hole blocked Bass Creek with a worn-out schooner filled with rocks, making way for Water Street and Union Wharf.

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Martha’s Vineyard Railroad Train on the Beach

The Martha’s Vineyard Railroad operated from 1872 to 1896, carrying passengers from the Oak Bluffs steamer wharf to the outskirts of Edgartown, then to Katama.

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1938 Beach Road Flooding

This photograph, looking down Beach Road toward Five Corners, was taken during the 1938 Hurricane.

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Bathhouse Debris on Oak Bluffs Steamer Wharf

Bathhouses were a fixture of Oak Bluffs — a monument to the social customs of a bygone era — until September 1944, when the Great Atlantic Hurricane struck the Island.

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Bunker on South Beach

This concrete structure, used to train World War II naval aviators, originally stood in the dunes behind the beach; by the late 1960s or early 1970s, it stood at the water’s edge.

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Moving the Gay Head Light

The brick tower of the current Gay Head Light was built in 1856, and by the early twenty-first century, erosion had left it dangerously close to the edge of the cliffs.

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EVENTS

The Perennial Women of Island Gardening

Martha’s Vineyard has long held a reputation for its incredible gardens. In honor of the beginning of spring, join MVM to explore the stories and experiences of some of the women who have been part of the Island’s gardening scene for the last fifty years. Peggy Schweir, Lynne Irons, Mary Wirtz, Abigail Higgins, Phyllis McMorrow, and Carly Look will share about the evolution and present state of gardening and dive into how to garden with consideration to climate change.

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Spring Break at MVM

Celebrate Spring Break at the Museum! Open from 10am to 4pm each day, we’re offering a host of spring-themed activities included free with your Museum admission. Discover hidden critters in the Rose Styron Garden with our Scavenger Hunt, create together at our Community Craft event in the Linneman Pavilion, and enjoy a leisurely Poetry Walk around our grounds.

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Kid’s Upcycling Workshop: Sea Creatures from Beach Trash

Join us for a unique spring break experience with our Kid’s Upcycling Workshops! Guided by Museum educator and artist Alia Munley, these sessions are all about transforming everyday trash into artistic treasures.

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Kid’s Upcycling Workshop: Colorful Mobiles Out of Recyclables

Join us for a unique spring break experience with our Kid’s Upcycling Workshops! Guided by Museum educator and artist Alia Munley, these sessions are all about transforming everyday trash into artistic treasures.

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Spring Break at MVM

Celebrate Spring Break at the Museum! Open from 10am to 4pm each day, we’re offering a host of spring-themed activities included free with your Museum admission. Discover hidden critters in the Rose Styron Garden with our Scavenger Hunt, create together at our Community Craft event in the Linneman Pavilion, and enjoy a leisurely Poetry Walk around our grounds.

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Stories of the Island’s First Earth Day

Wildlife biologist and forester, Bob Woodruff came to the Island in 1970 as the first leader of the Vineyard Conservation Society and creator of the Island’s first Earth Day. A respected conservation pioneer, he continues his work to this day. Bob’s son, Andrew Woodruff, is the owner of Whippoorwill Farm in West Tisbury and has served as Island Grown Initiative’s Regenerative Farming Consultant for the past several years. Join Bob and Andrew to hear about that first Earth Day and their ongoing conservation work.

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Kid’s Upcycling Workshop: Flower Pots from Old Cans

Join us for a unique spring break experience with our Kid’s Upcycling Workshops! Guided by Museum educator and artist Alia Munley, these sessions are all about transforming everyday trash into artistic treasures.

READ MORE

Spring Break at MVM

Celebrate Spring Break at the Museum! Open from 10am to 4pm each day, we’re offering a host of spring-themed activities included free with your Museum admission. Discover hidden critters in the Rose Styron Garden with our Scavenger Hunt, create together at our Community Craft event in the Linneman Pavilion, and enjoy a leisurely Poetry Walk around our grounds.

READ MORE

Spring Break at MVM

Celebrate Spring Break at the Museum! Open from 10am to 4pm each day, we’re offering a host of spring-themed activities included free with your Museum admission. Discover hidden critters in the Rose Styron Garden with our Scavenger Hunt, create together at our Community Craft event in the Linneman Pavilion, and enjoy a leisurely Poetry Walk around our grounds.

READ MORE

Kid’s Upcycling Workshop: Woven Art Using Fabric Scraps

Join us for a unique spring break experience with our Kid’s Upcycling Workshops! Guided by Museum educator and artist Alia Munley, these sessions are all about transforming everyday trash into artistic treasures.

READ MORE

A Pond Point of View

The great ponds of Martha’s Vineyard are ecologically rare and culturally precious. These fascinating bodies of water have played a critical role in the lives of our community throughout time. Join Ollie Becker, Andrew Jacobs, and Emily Reddington to learn more about the current challenges facing our great ponds and how to protect them. Their insights will be accompanied by excerpts from Circuit Film’s acclaimed Great Pond film series.

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Transforming Beach Treasure

Join Laurisa Rich, founder of Beach Befrienders, a program of Vineyard Conservation Society, for a lively discussion and workshop about the treasures to be found while cleaning up the Island’s beaches. As Laurisa speaks, create a beach treasure bag to take home with you. Or, you can donate it for an Earth Day Festival prize.

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Earth Day Conservation Festival

Throughout the year, many organizations work together to protect and sustain our Island’s precious waters, natural areas, and biodiversity. This Earth Day, they are gathering together again at the Museum to celebrate their conservation efforts and share their knowledge with the Island community. The festival will offer interactive booths, environmental trivia, eco-friendly crafts for kids, and a chance to meet the faces behind the Island’s leading environmental organizations.

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Ferries and Steamers: From Sailboats to Sidewheelers, 1700-1900

This four-part lecture series by MVM Research Librarian Bow Van Riper traces the story of Vineyard ferries from the early 1700s to the present day: from sail to steam to diesel, by way of storms, shipwrecks, and strikes. Join us for a deep dive into the history behind the ‘Ferry Tales’ exhibit.

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Ferries and Steamers: The Golden Age of Steam, 1900-1945

This four-part lecture series by MVM Research Librarian Bow Van Riper traces the story of Vineyard ferries from the early 1700s to the present day: from sail to steam to diesel, by way of storms, shipwrecks, and strikes. Join us for a deep dive into the history behind the ‘Ferry Tales’ exhibit.

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Ferries and Steamers: The Islander and the Authority, 1945-1973

This four-part lecture series by MVM Research Librarian Bow Van Riper traces the story of Vineyard ferries from the early 1700s to the present day: from sail to steam to diesel, by way of storms, shipwrecks, and strikes. Join us for a deep dive into the history behind the ‘Ferry Tales’ exhibit.

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Ferries and Steamers: From Nantucket to Now, 1974-2024

This four-part lecture series by MVM Research Librarian Bow Van Riper traces the story of Vineyard ferries from the early 1700s to the present day: from sail to steam to diesel, by way of storms, shipwrecks, and strikes. Join us for a deep dive into the history behind the ‘Ferry Tales’ exhibit.

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VISIT OUR CAMPUS

With an exciting slate of exhibits, guest speakers, and community events, there’s always something new to discover at MVM.

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OPEN 10 – 4
TUESDAY – SUNDAY
YEAR-ROUND

100,000+

ITEMS IN
OUR COLLECTION

Explore maps, manuscripts, objects, photos, oral histories, and much more.

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2,500

FEET FROM THE
FERRY DOCK

Our Vineyard Haven campus is just a 10-minute walk from the Steamship Authority terminal.

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100

YEARS OF SERVING THE ISLAND COMMUNITY

We are committed to collecting, preserving, and sharing all facets of the Island’s story, from the familiar to the untold.

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“We believe in the mission and vision of the MV Museum. We want our grandchildren to love and appreciate this Island’s history, art, and culture as much as we do, so it is very important to us that the Museum continues to grow and thrive!”

BARBARA COUCH