The Martha’s Vineyard Museum celebrated its 90th birthday on Saturday by holding its annual Evening of Discovery gala on the grounds of its future site, the former Marine Hospital in Vineyard Haven. Three-hundred forty-two guests paid $200 to attend the event — the largest number of attendees since the museum’s summer dinners began 15 years ago.
David Nathans, museum director, welcomed the guests and Elizabeth Beim, the museum board chairman, announced the selection of the Boston architectural firm of Oudens-Ello to “adaptably reuse” the 118-year-old hospital and turn it into the museum, and the receipt of a $191,100 Massachusetts Cultural Grant to aid in that conversion. She said it was hoped that the new museum would be opened to the public in 2017. Oudens-Ello already has an Island presence as the designer of the new West Tisbury library, now under construction.
The event featured a video tribute to Sheldon Hackney of Vineyard Haven, longtime member of the museum board and its chairman when the decision was made to acquire the former Marine Hospital. A noted historian and educator, Mr. Hackney was formerly president of the University of Pennsylvania and Tulane University, and served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In keeping with the museum’s current major exhibit, A Taste for the Exotic: Mementos from Around the Globe, featuring items brought home to the Vineyard from sailors to the South Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic, the dinner menu had a taste of the exotic, too. There was roast pig in the South Pacific tradition, Japanese sushi and Chinese egg roll appetizers, among other items.
A silent auction preceded the dinner and included such items as a 1948 Saturday Evening Post cover, historic photographs of Paris, an 1862 Staffordshire platter, and a set of 19th-century Flow Blue dessert plates, as well as more modern items from Island shops and holiday trips to Belize, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia and Myrtle Beach, Fla.
Gail Farrish of the board of directors was in charge of the event. Music was provided by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School String Quartet.