A plan by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum to relocate from Edgartown to Vineyard Haven has caused rumblings on the other side of the Island, where a number of people are now calling for the museum’s centerpiece, the original 19th-century lens that sat atop the Gay Head Light in Aquinnah, to return home.

Since 1952, the enormous lens, based on the work of Augustin-Jean Fresnel in France, has occupied a miniature lighthouse on the museum campus in Edgartown, occasionally illuminating the neighborhood through its array of glass prisms that bring to mind a beehive or some kind of extraterrestrial egg. It is among the oldest and best preserved first-order Fresnel lenses in the country.

Museum director Phil Wallis estimates that restoring the lens and its cast iron pedestal, and transporting them to the future site of the museum, will cost at least $100,000. A grant this year from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will cover most of the cost.

The museum formally launched an $18.5 million capital campaign in June for phase one of the project to renovate the former Marine Hospital building in Vineyard Haven. The museum eventually plans to relocate there from its longstanding campus in Edgartown — bringing the Fresnel lens to be housed in a gallery.

But Aquinnah residents have been dreaming of a homecoming for the lens at least since 2011, when the museum first unveiled its relocation plan. And a loosely-organized group now hopes the museum will reconsider its plan for the lens. The efforts are fueled partly by the relocation of the Gay Head Light last year and a flurry of planning surrounding the Aquinnah Circle, which was named a cultural district by the Massachusetts Cultural Council last winter.

Museum received a grant to cover most of the cost of the move to its new location. — Maria Thibodeau

“Lighthouses get people excited,” said Michael Stutz, an Aquinnah resident who is leading the efforts to bring the lens home. “They really arouse passion.” He said there is widespread support for the proposal in town, calling it “the elephant in the room” as the museum moves ahead with the relocation.

Two options are under consideration: bringing the original lens to the site of the Gay Head Light, or creating a replica for service in the lighthouse. The Aquinnah lighthouse advisory board discussed the matter for the first time on Thursday, agreeing that one or the other possibility could benefit the town, but also noting a lack of funding.

Mr. Stutz said the efforts are timely in light of the museum relocation, and hoped the town would pursue both options at once. “There is near-unanimous support amongst Gay Headers for this notion,” he said at the meeting. He plans to bring the proposal to the selectmen.

Lighthouse advisory board member Len Butler said he is open to the idea of a replica, but a long-term restoration of the lighthouse that began last year would take priority. “We still need to raise $1.3 million just to make sure the building remains standing before we think about the cherry on top, which is what this will be,” Mr. Butler said. “But this certainly would be something to put in our plans for the future.”

Lightkeeper Richard Skidmore, who also serves on the board, was intrigued by the proposal, at least in principle.

“They do produce a beautiful effect,” he said of the old lenses. He said when the lighthouse was completed in 1856, “it was like all of a sudden having Disney World in Gay Head.”

The proposal has the support of members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), many of whom recall the efforts of family members 64 years ago to retain the lens after the town became electrified and a lower-maintenance beacon was installed. A last-minute effort at the time gained wide support in town, but failed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard, which stood by its original decision to give the lens to the Dukes County Historical Society (now the Martha’s Vineyard Museum).

“I think it was always on a lot of people’s minds that they wanted the lens here,” tribal elder Bettina Washington said. “Those of us of my generation would definitely remember their parents or their grandparents talking about it. I think it would be such an addition to the Circle area and what we’re trying to build upon up there.”

Coast Guard regulations prohibit the original lens from ever returning to service in the lighthouse, although it could be installed in a separate building nearby. Jim Woodward, an expert in Fresnel lenses who will oversee the restoration and relocation for the museum, cautioned against operating the old machinery in any location. “No matter how good your intentions are, you are going to damage it,” he said of the lens.

A replica would come at a much higher cost, and installing it in the lighthouse would need federal approval. The town of Aquinnah acquired the light prior to its relocation last year, but the Coast Guard still maintains the beacon as a federal aid to navigation. It is not clear how a replica project would be funded.

Dan Spinella of Artworks Florida, perhaps the only company in the world to reproduce Fresnel lenses, has told the museum that a replica first-order lens such as the one on the Vineyard would cost between $750,000 and $1 million, given its solid brass framework and 1,008 hand-machined prisms. Mr. Spinella has recreated smaller models, he said, but never a first-order lens. (The Fresnel orders range from one to six, with one being the largest). He said using acrylic instead of glass for the prisms could reduce the weight by several thousand pounds.

Federal approval would possibly depend on the Coast Guard transferring the lens to a private entity, Mr. Spinella said, since the Fresnel lenses require heavier maintenance. “They really don’t want them in their inventory to take care of,” he said.

Many would likely welcome the return of the light’s original signal of three white flashes and one red, which changed in 1989 with the arrival of the current double-barrel spotlight that creates a simple red-white signal.

Mr. Wallis said his discussions with various groups in Aquinnah are just beginning, and he appeared to favor the idea of creating a replica, rather than returning the original. “I would just be joyful,” he said of the possibility. “But that’s going to take some work.”

Selectman Juli Vanderhoop, whose family has done business at Aquinnah Circle for generations, and whose great uncle Charles W. Vanderhoop of Gay Head was the nation’s first Native American lightkeeper, said the discussion has been stirring for some time. “It was rightly Aquinnah’s or Gay Head’s in the first place, so we would love to see that come back to the town,” Ms. Vanderhoop said of the lens. “And I can’t see why we wouldn’t want it except for the cost.”