After nearly a decade of planning, two years of construction, over $30 million raised, and the restoration of exactly 1,008 refractors on the Fresnel lens, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is open to the public in Vineyard Haven.

Permanent exhibits highlight history of the Island. — Noah Asimow

At a members-only preview Tuesday night, museum employees and excited patrons shared in the reverie of a project finally coming to fruition.

“Look around. Can you believe it?” museum executive director Phil Wallis asked the crowd of about 200. “This is a dream come true.”

The facility opened to the public the following day.

The museum bought the former marine hospital overlooking Lagoon Pond in Vineyard Haven seven years ago. Since then, the organization has undertaken a massive capital campaign to convert the 10,000-square-foot, 29-room building from an 1895 medical facility for wounded mariners to a glistening 21st century museum.

On Tuesday, that museum was on full display, with exhibitions lining walls once dotted with hospital beds, galleries where there were once wards.

Patrons were encouraged to explore.

“It is beautiful,” future docent Faith Laskaris said. “It’s been amazing to watch the whole process, them just pushing along with it.”

Ms. Laskaris has worked for the museum in Edgartown, helping with events for seniors and community engagement. Walking around the second floor of the new Vineyard Haven location, she began to imagine tours of the new facility.

“This is really a different experience,” she said

The new Martha's Vineyard Museum opens its doors to the public at 10 a.m. Wednesday. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Restored 1895 windows allow light to shine on a newly organized collections. Permanent exhibits offer a thematic history of the Vineyard — from fishing, to voyaging, to belonging — using time capsules filled with artifacts instead of timelines stuffed with dates to tell the story of the Island, from the Wampanoags until today.

“We were looking at the intangibles; the things people could really connect with rather it being 1742 this happened, in 1842 this happened,” exhibits and programming manager Anna Barber said. “The story of the Vineyard just continues and continues and continues and we wanted to show that continuity

, so we’re weaving a lot of stories from the past and stories from today in the gallery.” Upstairs, three rooms of gallery space house rotating exhibits. One includes a history of music on the Vineyard — from sea shanties to Carly Simon to the Dock Dance Band — with artifacts like original organ from the first black dedicated church in Oak Bluffs and audiovisual features that allow visitors to listen and watch famous Vineyard performers. Curatorial assistant Nate Luce said the museum is planning concerts to pay homage to each of the six musical eras highlighted in the exhibit.

And come summer, the gallery will showcase an artist of a different kind, displaying a broad collection of Vineyard works by the storied American painter Thomas Hart Benton, formerly a longtime Island resident.

“We were able to get Benton loans that were unreachable before, just because of the new space,” museum operations director Katy Fuller said.

A gallery informally called “the jewel box” has darkened windows and allows the museum to spotlight one item from its collection at a time, while another has bright walls to hang art and other collection oddities that have spent most of the last century in storage.

“We can certainly show a much larger portion of the collection, and a much better portion of the collection,” curator Bonnie Stacy said, standing in front of a case that held the bony dentition of a babirusa boar and an invitation for Lucy Smith to attend the coronation of the King of Hawai’i.

“These little galleries give us a chance to say, you haven’t seen this before. Let us share our collection with you,” Ms. Barber said.

The highlight of the new space is the fully-restored Fresnel lens from the Gay Head Light, which serves as a brilliant and historic candelabra in the center of the museum’s western pavilion and cafe. Beneath it, wrapped around the light, is a permanent exhibit about shipwrecks on the Island. Behind that is an interactive exhibit called Hands-on-History, where children can explore a fishing shack, a whaling ship, and row boat — all without the fear of capsizing either themselves or a priceless artifact.

As dusk fell over the Vineyard Haven Harbor outside the new museum Tuesday evening, inside, the space drew rave reviews.

“I love it,” said Kim Manter Cottrill. “I grew up here and it’s great to see all the stuff I wish I remembered from childhood.”

For some at the event Tuesday, the museum had special significance. Docent-in-training Wendy Andrews had been to the building before, not as a museum patron, but to visit a patient.

“I remember coming in at five years old with my grandmother and wondering why all the men were in their pajamas and bathrobes,” she said. “I’m so excited because my relatives are featured here. It makes it feel like this is my museum.”

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and Islanders. Children six and under are free; children 6-17 are $5. The cafe is open to the public and accessible without an admission ticket.

“This has been a long time coming for the Island,” operations director Katy Fuller said. “And this is our museum. Enjoy it.”