Home

Plan Your Visit

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

What’s On

Explore our ongoing, upcoming, and online exhibitions

Become a member

Join our community of supporters and enjoy special benefits

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Jan 27, 2024 - Sep 8, 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.

READ MORE
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.

READ MORE
Apr 23, 2024 - Apr 20, 2025
The Saltzman Cabinet of Curiosities

Ferry Tales

In this exhibit, learn about the ferries that have gotten us here — from Abraham Chase’s sail ferry in the 18th century, to the elegance and grandeur of the White Fleet of propeller steamers of the 1920s, to the much beloved Islander which served the Vineyard for over 50 years. The exhibition features ship models, memorabilia, reproductions of historical documents and photographs, and a timeline that traces the history of ferry service to the Island from the 1700s to today. 

READ MORE
May 11, 2024 - Jun 22, 2024
The Adele H. Waggaman Community Gallery

Vineyard Scene: Portraits by Peter Simon

During his life, renowned photojournalist Peter Simon (1947 - 2018) captured portraits of famous musicians and political movements, but his heart was always here on the Island. For more than 50 years, Peter photographed the Island and its people in all seasons. Recently, the Museum acquired nearly 300 of Peter's candid portraits, taken during the 1990s. This exhibition features a selection of known and unknown faces, in the hopes that you can help us identify them!

READ MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

Mary Norton Sampler

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

LEARN MORE

Jagging Wheel

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

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

Violin

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

LEARN MORE

Sloop Drawing

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

LEARN MORE

Monohansett

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

LEARN MORE

Fall River Line Advertisement

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

LEARN MORE

“Enchanted Isle” Poster

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

LEARN MORE

Islander

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

LEARN MORE

Island Queen Advertisement

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

LEARN MORE

Provincetown-Boston Airlines Timetable

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

LEARN MORE

Islander and Island Home

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

LEARN MORE

Satinet Sample

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

LEARN MORE

Vanderhoops at Aquinnah Circle

Harrison and Selina Vanderhoop selling Wampanoag crafts at Aquinnah Circle.

LEARN MORE

King’s Paint Mill

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

LEARN MORE

Bricks on Pier

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

LEARN MORE

Erford Burt Bass Boat

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

LEARN MORE

Model of the SS Drottingholm

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

LEARN MORE

Dairy Cooperative Bottle

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

LEARN MORE

Chilmark Chocolates Sign

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

LEARN MORE

Black Dog Catalog

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

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

“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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

1938 Beach Road Flooding

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

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

EVENTS

Grease and Grit: A Female Mechanic’s Tale of Resilience

Join mechanic Andrea Dello Russo to explore how she persevered to do her job in a man’s world, with a woman’s touch. In addition to being a mechanic, Andrea is a mother, educator, motorcycle rider, and business owner who will share her automotive journey from being an uneducated female car owner to owning and running a successful auto repair shop.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

Related Through Rhythms – The Milokan Project

Join us for a cinematic adventure with Rick Bausman as he shares his film Bat Tanbou (meaning Beat The Drum in Haitian Creole) – about the origins of The Milokan Project in Haiti and its connection to Martha’s Vineyard. The film chronicles several long trips throughout Haiti, with lots of rarely seen footage of ceremony and drumming. All attendees will have a chance to participate in drumming and a discussion about Rick’s Rhythm of Life Project.

READ MORE

New Moon Naked Eye Stargazing

Join us on the Lewis Lawn for naked eye stargazing with Mark Alan Lovewell. Mark is an expert guide who will point out constellations and share the legends and lore of the cosmos. Spend the evening gazing upon the stars from the Museum’s beautiful lawn.

READ MORE

An Evening with Demola

Join ASALH (Martha’s Vineyard Branch) for an enchanting evening with Demola the Violinist. This event features the internationally acclaimed violinist as part of their 8th Annual Black & White Charity Fundraiser. Experience Demola’s unique blend of classical and contemporary music, which promises to captivate and inspire. This elegant evening supports ASALH’s mission to explore and celebrate African American history and culture. 

READ MORE

Sailing to Freedom: Recovering and Re-Centering the Maritime Dimension of the Underground Railroad

Uncover the maritime pathways to freedom with Dr. Timothy Walker in this captivating presentation about the little-known stories of freedom-seeking by sea and the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad. Dr. Walker will discuss the importance of enslaved African Americans’ labor in southern ports, focusing on African American agency, and how individuals managed escapes from the South to safe harbor in northern cities such as Philadelphia, New York, New Bedford, and Boston.

READ MORE

It Sounds So Sweet – The Sequel: Folk Music on Martha’s Vineyard in 1964 and 1965

Building on his highly successful presentation from last summer, which covered the early folk music scene on the Vineyard, Doug Thompson will dive into new information on the peak years of 1964 and 1965. During these years, folk music flourished at not one but three coffee houses on Island. Join us to learn about this transformative period in American musical and social history. Doug will share and discuss an extensive array of photographs, memorabilia, and snippets of recorded music to bring alive the events, the venues, and the musicians – both local and imported – who created the magic of “The Great Folk Scare” on Martha’s Vineyard.

READ MORE

VISIT OUR CAMPUS

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

LEARN MORE

OPEN 10 – 4
TUESDAY – SUNDAY
YEAR-ROUND

100,000+

ITEMS IN
OUR COLLECTION

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

LEARN MORE

2,500

FEET FROM THE
FERRY DOCK

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

LEARN MORE

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.

LEARN MORE

LEARN

We provide thought-provoking and engaging learning experiences for students of all ages.

DIVE INTO ISLAND STORIES

RESEARCH

We bring the Island’s history and culture to life through research and resources that encourage curiosity and compassion.

DEEPEN YOUR ISLAND KNOWLEDGE

SUPPORT & DONATE

Your support empowers us to continue inspiring, educating, and strengthening our community.

JOIN NOW

“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