Museum Pieces: Far-reaching exhibits

Connecting with the community through the varied offerings at the museum.

The whimsical art of Percy Cowan will be on exhibit. —Courtesy M.V. Museum

“I was put on earth to make people laugh.” —Art Buchwald

Why are we here? Who are we? Defining anything is incredibly hard. Think about how you would describe yourself or want to be described, and then about how a complete stranger would. We have layers, and we can’t express them all at once; perhaps that is why the strongest relationships are built over time. M.V. Museum’s most recent exhibit opening reception lifted me to a new level of joy and connection to this Island community. As a community museum, we explore what that means every day, and invite you to help us. “Clearly Misunderstood: C.F. Giordano,” open through May 5, was unlike anything the museum has curated before. It was so well-received and brought people from all over the Island, many of whom have never been to the museum. That is an essential aspect of our mission of being a community museum, and reveals another layer of how we hope you see us.

Soon MVM will be opening another exhibit, “Percy Cowan: My Dearest Jane” will run from March 2 through May 26, with an opening reception on Friday, March 1, from 5 to 7 pm. Folks who like WWII stories and love stories, or just want to see artwork that radiates hope, humor, and the human condition, will want to visit. Some may feel there is a whimsy lost in the world today. I’ve heard people say that they feel guilty laughing, feeling full at the end of a meal, or feeling safe walking down the street, when there is so much tragedy. A museum is a place where we can find examples of how other people overcame things, how they were able to be resourceful, how they expressed themselves, and any other thing we may be struggling with. The other day I was sitting just outside of the “One Island, Many Stories” exhibit, and felt a rush of comfort come over me. It was a supportive feeling, as if there were answers all around me if I was paying attention. That may sound far-reaching or heady, but it was a realization that someone has done this before, lived life, and there may be inspiration, lessons, or entertainment that can help me feel better, more confident, or empathetic. M.V. Museum is special, unlike any other museum I have been to. The staff is openhearted and ready to grow alongside this storied community, collecting every single story we can.

To look ahead, you will see a wide-ranging representation of exhibitions and programming that seeks to invite you into more and more of what we want for our next 100 years. Grab your teenager(s) and sign up to make a memory by attending the workshop “Draw Your Heroes or Other Characters,” with respected Illustrator Ryan Barr on Saturday, March 9. Sign your kids up now for this summer’s Discovery Days. Kids will get answers to questions like, How do lighthouses actually work? Where have all the whales gone? What creature made this fossil?

Bring them to our “Clifford” exhibit, up through July 14. In May, we will open the exhibition “Stunt Family”; in June, “Sailing to Freedom.” Save August 3 for our second annual Deco Dreams Gala. We will also be piloting a nighttime stargazing program to reintroduce the fascinating pastime of being able to name the constellations and talk about their legends and lore. In the meantime, come to our Friday Reset, every Friday through the end of Apri, from 5 to 8 pm, and play a board game, do a puzzle, listen to music, visit the craft table, or just have a conversation with friends, or friends you haven’t met yet. There are door prizes, coffee, cocoa, tea, and light bites for a suggested donation of $20, but don’t let that keep you from experiencing your community museum.

We hope you will help us peel back the layers of who we are, and be a place where we can feel something, see something, and learn something that builds the trust essential in any relationship.

Visit for more information about upcoming exhibitions and events. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, year-round. Regular hours are 10 am to 4 pm; 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.