Museum Pieces: Building community

Celebrate our differences by better understanding one another.


“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” —P.T. Barnum

We are different for a reason. Humans have such a complicated relationship with standing out, whether it be a physical characteristic, idea, or behavior. Should we admire them or shame them? It is probably fair to say that all of us have experienced being misunderstood, and felt the heat and flush of shame rush into our cheeks. Is it possible to gain comfort with being misunderstood? M.V. Museum invites us to explore this question with an exhibit called “Clearly Misunderstood: C.F. Giordano.” What if we paused our knee-jerk assessments and heard someone out, or asked questions that could lead to a great story, and deeper understanding? It’s clearly more fun to be interested in someone’s differences than to fear them, and bench the idea of self-expansion.

Asking questions is how we learn, and a visit to a museum leads us from one to the next, in a safe zone of nonjudgmental information-seeking. If you ask artist, motorcycle builder, musician, and boxer Charlie Giordano, there is a huge faction of the Island’s art scene that has yet to be given its due credit for adding to the mystique of our beloved home. Charlie went through a creative explosion during the years of COVID, took the challenges and transformed them into creative energy, as many Islanders found themselves doing. It was a time of deep reflection and rediscovery that produced some amazing things. For Charlie Giordano, it was the motorcycle he calls “Voodoo Doll.” Built over the course of two years in his West Tisbury shop, Giordano calls it “a love letter to art, motorcycles, and to perseverance.” When he emerged from this creative binge, he saw things with a new perspective; he looked around and didn’t see this very different, underground part of Island art he springs from represented anywhere in the community, so he decided to approach the museum and pitch his ideas. Over the ensuing year, our curator of exhibitions, Anna Barber, worked with Giordano on his vision of how to bring it to the Adele H. Waggaman Community Gallery. The exhibition “Clearly Misunderstood: C.F. Giordono” opens on Saturday, Feb. 17. This exhibition follows Giordano through his journey of building “Voodoo Doll,” and includes tools, video, drawings, and photography. Join us for an opening reception on Friday evening, Feb. 16, from 5:30 to 7 pm. There will be live music, refreshments, and a brief introduction to the exhibit for a $10 suggested donation.

The museum feels a duty to stand out, in, and up for this Island community, and invites you to attend one of our openings, come and see what the Friday Reset is about, a storytime with Weezy, a lunch lecture, or coming this summer, a series of Garden Lunch Lectures at the Cooke House in Edgartown. We are piloting ways of making you feel welcome and part of this museum. Keep checking our website for details. There are endless ways for you to engage. Send me an email at if you have questions, ideas, and feedback on your experiences at MVM. With your participation, we can build the community museum we all dream of.

This week, the Friday Reset will be pre-empted by the opening reception for “Clearly Misunderstood,” but it will be back on Friday, Feb. 23. If you have young kids, join us for “Storytime with Weezy” on Saturday morning, from 10:30 to 11:30 am. Coming up in March, save the date of Saturday, March 9, from 2 to 4 pm, to grab your teens and come draw with Illustrator Ryan Barr. You will walk away with a treasured memory and drawing as a memento.

We live on an Island that attracts many different kinds of people from very different backgrounds. It’s our own little world of curiosities. Let’s be confidently different and cheer on our fellow humans for being different. There is nothing more interesting or impactful than that.

Visit for more information about upcoming exhibitions and events. The Martha’s Vineyard Museum inspires all people to discover, explore, and strengthen their connections to this Island and its diverse heritage. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round. Regular hours are 10 am to 4 pm, and summer season hours are 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free to members; admission for nonmembers is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $5 for children 7 to 17, and free for children 6 and under. Islander rates are available.