Collection Development

The objects collection at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, donated or purchased over the past 80 years, includes over 30,000 items relating to all aspects of life on Martha’s Vineyard. Specific collection categories include:

  • Agricultural Tools
  • Archaeological Material
  • Armament
  • Baskets
  • Coins
  • Costumes
  • Decoys
  • Ethnographic Material
  • a Fire Engine
  • Fossils & Botanical Samples
  • Fresnel Lens (Gay Head, 1854)
  • Furniture & Household Equipment
  • Guns & Swords
  • Hunting & Fishing Tools
  • Maritime Tools
  • Medical & Scientific Tools
  • Musical Instruments
  • a Nomansland Fishing Boat
  • Paintings & Prints
  • Sailor’s Artwork including Scrimshaw
  • Sculpture
  • Ship Models
  • Shipwreck Salvage Materials
  • a Sleigh
  • Toys
  • a Wagon
  • Wampanoag Tools
  • a Whaleboat
  • Woodworking Tools

The library and archive collection spans every period of the Island’s history. Beyond the 5,000 books in the research library, the Museum’s archives collection contains materials from the 17th century through the 21st century. These collections include such items as:

  • Business Account Books
  • Family Correspondence
  • Legal Papers and Land Deeds
  • Manuscripts
  • Oral History
  • Organizational Records
  • Postcards
  • Scrapbooks
  • Ship Account Books

Additionally, the library holds 500 Island maps, 400 nautical charts, and an extensive photo collection of historic images of Vineyard tourism, homes, individuals, and communities.

Make a Donation to the Collection

The Museum welcomes and encourages the donation of materials that relate to Martha’s Vineyard history. If you are interested in donating an item, we encourage you to look at our Collection Management Policy, which describes the types of materials we seek and the process we use to acquire objects. We recommend that potential collection donors contact Curator Bonnie Stacy directly at 508-627-4441 x111 for three-dimensional objects, paper objects, and photographs.

A donor form is completed for every donation to the collection. The donor is responsible for providing an appraised value, which will be included on the donor receipt and used as a tax deduction. The Museum is legally prevented from appraising items.