Museum Pieces: Focus on environment

Coming up, meet folks from Island environmental organizations at the museum.


“The photographs I take on Martha’s Vineyard are taken because I feel something special. Nowhere in the world is there a place more beautiful than this.” —Alfred Eisenstaedt

The noted Life Magazine photographer made that statement during the summer of 1988, according to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. Martha’s Vineyard Museum is a place where we feel special things. If we’re paying attention, it can start the moment we turn up the hill and make our way to the grounds. Once we feel the earth beneath our feet, the energy takes hold. Built atop Wampanoag land in the area known as Nobnocket, the museum has created a responsive environment that encourages all ages to perceive special moments and bring them home to continue their work on us. It’s important to let a strong feeling be recognized, considered, and appreciated for what it is. That’s what affects positive change.

For instance, let’s say we attend “A Pond Point of View,” a panel talk coming up on Wednesday, April 24, between 5 and 6 pm. It’s quite possible that we learn something about our ponds that inspires us to take actions that make a big impact on their health, as well as aid in their preservation for future generations to feel the special moments that we have. The Great Ponds of Martha’s Vineyard are ecologically rare and culturally precious. They are fascinating bodies of water that have played a critical role in the lives of Island inhabitants for thousands of years. Director of Circuit Films Ollie Becker, Wampanoag Laboratory environmental technician Andrew Jacobs, and Great Pond Foundation executive director Emily Reddington will talk about the current challenges facing our Great Ponds, and how to protect them. Their insights will be accompanied by excerpts from Circuit Film’s acclaimed “Great Ponds” film series.

Another example is MVM’s “Transforming Beach Trash Into Treasure” program, on Thursday, April 25, starting at 5:30 pm. Laurisa Rich, founder of Beach Befrienders, a program of the Vineyard Conservation Society, will tell us stories about what she’s found on her beach walks while she leads us all through the creation of a beach treasure bag made from trash found while cleaning up our beaches. You can also choose whether you’d like to take your beach treasure bag home with you, or donate it for an Earth Day Festival prize. All the materials are included. But feel free to bring your own beach trash to work with. The Earth Day Festival is the following Saturday, April 27, from noon to 3 pm. After you finish the Vineyard Conservation Society’s annual Island-wide Beach Cleanup, you are invited to a celebration luncheon at the museum with loads of fun activities for all ages, including an Environmental Trivia Contest (with prizes), as well as interactive booths, ecofriendly crafts for kids, and a chance to meet the faces behind the Island’s leading environmental organizations.

And tomorrow night between 5 and 8 pm, bring your family and friends to hear Don Groover and Missis Biskis play some music while we fall under the spell of the hilltop view, busy our hands with a craft, or play cards. Donate what you can at the door so we can continue to have these great evenings. Whatever it is that brings you, we hope to see you at the museum soon!

The museum truly is like an Emporium of Wonders, with some exhibitions that are permanently on display, and others that periodically shift to telling new stories. What you see and experience at the museum — inside its walls and out — leaves adults and kids alike wide-eyed, mystified, and yearning to know more. Research librarian Bow Van Riper fields hundreds of questions each week from eager seekers. When I telI you that I am in a constant state of admiration for my colleagues, our board of directors, and our community, it isn’t mere hyperbole. There is so much wisdom to witness and absorb. So many smiling faces bursting with joy, laughs about spontaneously conceived ideas, and pensive postures searching for answers and understanding.

Here’s to hoping we all find and keep those special things in our life that make us feel!

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, 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.