Lighting up the fall

Martha’s Vineyard Museum offers more programming to enjoy as the days get shorter.

Things are stirring up at that magnificent Martha’s Vineyard Museum on the bluff overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor. The transformed 1895 Marine Hospital serves the community in so many ways.

While the weather is still mild, the Museum is hosting a number of outdoor concerts as part of the Supporting Local Music Project. MVY Radio has a list of all the dates and artists. Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish play on Sept. 17, and on Sept. 24, Kate Taylor, Jemima James, Rose Guerin, and Barbara Dacey. The performances take place at 5:30 pm in the Bodman Courtyard. Tickets are available at mvmuseum.org/music. And the museum will continue to announce musical artists and bands through the end of October.

The museum has reopened its doors to the public with careful pandemic protocols in place, and there are two new exhibits opening in September and October. The first is an expanded, powerful exhibition by Steve Maxner, titled “But … Such Is War,” which will run now through Jan. 10, 2021. Maxner continues to process his traumatic experiences fighting in Vietnam through immensely intriguing and moving sculptures he creates from the shells, driftwood, claws, and other “gifts from the sea” that he collects on his daily walks along the Island’s shores, with each piece hauntingly representing a different memory or experience of his time during the war. Maxner’s stories and music accompany the works, giving us a glimpse at the horrors of war as well as a journey toward peace. For a sense of the power of his work and the story behind it, see our review of his previous show at bit.ly/MaxnerReview.

The upcoming exhibition “Votes for Women: An Island Perspective,” on view from Oct. 26 through Jan. 3, 2021, provides a unique lens to look at the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment as the culmination of more than 70 years of activism and advocacy that brought about women voting for the first time in national elections. It looks back at the long fight for women’s suffrage in America through the lens of the Island and the women who lived here. It touches on how the debate played out in Vineyard newspapers and parlor rooms, and features the stories of Lucy Stone and the Blackwell family, who helped lead the movement and considered the Island a second home.

Unfortunately, for the moment the pandemic has affected the museum’s ability to offer free Tuesday evenings. Fuller explains, “We haven’t done free Tuesdays since we reopened. They attract too many people, and we’re closing every day at 5 pm to give our cleaning crew more time to clean the building. I’m sure we’ll revisit when more normal times return.”

The good news is that the museum is part of the Institute for Museums and Library Services “Museum for All” endeavor, and recipients of SNAP benefits receive free admission for up to four people to the museum by showing an EBT card.

If you prefer to “visit” from the comfort of your own couch, there’s plenty on offer. For teachers and parents, or those who just want to have fun learning something new, there is an array of curricula and activities to do at home. You can investigate everything from the Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses to Grey’s Raid to the Legend of Moshup and more at mvmuseum.org/learn/home-learning/. For a range of great articles on everything you ever wanted to learn about the Vineyard, you can read past editions of the Dukes County Intelligencer and Martha’s Vineyard Museum Quarterly at mvmuseum.org/research/quarterly, as well as other past museum publications at mvmuseum.org/research/otherpublications, ranging from Dorothy Scoville’s “Indian Legends of Martha’s Vineyard” (1970) to Henry Beetle Hough’s “The Heath Hen’s Journey to Extinction” (1934). If you yearn for some auditory stimulus, then go to the oral histories at bit.ly/3k1Dq7E. And if you missed any of the museum’s programs, you can watch an array online, as well as other videos, at bit.ly/35rLSJl, which includes a favorite, #mymvmuseum — Your At Home Museum at bit.ly/3inZTLN, where every day you can learn about something intriguing from the museum’s collection, as well as clips recorded by people in the community and submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic about objects that are special from their own home “collections.”

The upshot is, Don’t let the pandemic keep you away from the museum, either in person or virtually.

For hours, and to learn about the protocols for visiting in person, see mvmuseum.org/faq.