The Martha’s Vineyard Museum hosted its 20th annual Evening of Discovery fundraiser event Saturday night at the former Marine Hospital. In what museum board chairman Stever Aubrey called their “biggest turnout” yet, with just under 500 guests, the evening was filled with glam, champagne, and most importantly, hope for the future.
Donors, prospective donors, board members, community members, museum staff and everyone in between were welcomed to the “Golden Age of Hollywood” themed event at the museum’s new Vineyard Haven campus. The former Marine Hospital is still an active construction site, but it was open for guests to tour and see the progress first hand.
“We’re at a phase where this thing that was a dream for years and years is now a reality,” Aubrey told the Times. “I see a lot of excited people here that in the past we’ve promised a lot to, and were fulfilling our promise.”
After years of fundraising, grants and donations, plus the $250-a-ticket evening and more than 50 silent auction items, the museum’s executive director Phil Wallis announced in his welcoming speech that as of that night, the museum has raised 77 percent of its $31 million goal, with “only $7 million to go.” Wallis added, “this project has been nothing short of a symphony — with 86 contractors, 18 staff members, 30 board members and hundreds of donors.”
During his speech, Wallis asked the audience, “Does a museum matter on Martha’s Vineyard?” He paused, and soon countless echoes of “Yes!” flooded the tent. “After years of immersing myself in this work, I know the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’” Wallis said.
After years of planning, the new museum has finally taken shape atop the hill with postcard views of Vineyard Haven. Old paint has been stripped, fresh cedar shakes are up and new foundations have been poured. So, what’s next?
“The focus has been on building,” Aubrey told the Times. “Now, we’re really focused on what’s going to happen [next]. What does it mean to have this building here? What’s going to happen inside? What’s our programming going to be? What are the exhibits going to do? Are we going to be talking about the past, the future? What are we going to do with this wonderful lawn?”
To these questions, he posed endless possibilities to the guests during his speech, which included changing exhibits, music, poetry, and even sunrise yoga on the front lawn. “We will welcome all to convene and collaborate as diverse communities to enjoy each other’s company and learn from each other,” Aubrey said during his speech.
Aubrey told the Times, “This Island gives so much to us, it’s time for us to give back to the Island.”