The Newburyport Maritime Society (dba Custom House Maritime Museum) held its first Virtual Annual Meeting June 5 2020 due to Covid-19.

Doug Muir, outgoing Chairperson, highlighted the CHMMs success of the past year, beginning with:

  • The 10 day visit of the Nao Santa María during Newburyport Maritime Days;
  • The widely viewed Pottery Exhibit – the Museums first exhibit with loaned artifacts;
  • The hiring of Joan Whitlow as Executive Director, and Sean Palmatier as Assistant Director
  • The organization and protection of the collection;
  • The successful repair of the slate roof funded by the Newburyport Community Preservation Committee. 

Members were treated to an exciting drone video of the CHMM slate roof repair, narrated by Greg Colling, local historical architect from Merrimack Design Architects, PLLC, and Victor Wright, owner of Heritage Company.

The CHMM has a professional new brand – developed free of charge – by Matter Communications of Newburyport. Matters Rory Nolan, Ashkan Salehi, and Nik Barkley worked on the project and presented the final brand. Everyone is excited with the new look!

Joan Whitlow’s engaging highlight tour of the gallery renovations, which took place during the CHMM’s shutdown, was accompanied by a time lapse video of the Mosely Gallery renovations and new exhibits. Ms. Whitlow presented the new exhibit opening July 9th 2020 in the Bushee Gallery: Entertainment for Man and Horse: Victuals, Libations and Distractions in an Early American Tavern. 

The 2020 Board of Director Officers were introduced: Susan Bernhard, Chairperson; Jack Santos, Vice Chairperson; Mike Laureno, Treasurer; Bob Dignan, Clerk .

Each spoke of their respected fields: What is in store for the CHMM this year; virtual programming; the CHMM’s financial status; and election of directors.

Tribute was given to outgoing directors:  Thom Gould and Ken Jackman for all they have done for the museum during their 6 years’ tenure. Tom and Ken were instrumental for the many significant beneficial changes at the CHMM, including but not limited to: Newburyport Maritime Days; Sea-to-Table; engaging Frist Fridays; ownership of the building.

As goodbyes were given, the Board welcomed two new Directors: Jennifer Germaine and George Haseltine and the members voted second terms for Elizabeth Lorayne and Doug Muir.

Jack Santos reviewed the success of the virtual First Fridays and the lonely pirate video as well future digital program. Treasurer Laureno explained that in early March the BOD moved to a critical spend budget. The BOD made the decision to complete renovations and with the help of the Newburyport Bank applied and was approved for a payroll protection loan.

CHMMs vision for the immediate future, presented by Susan Bernhard, is the museum opening and providing its visitors, members and staff the opportunity to enjoy wonderful exhibits in a safe environment. The CHMM continues to apply for grants and sponsorships and promote memberships. The museum is thankful for all donations and hopes to conduct fundraising events, such as Sea-to-Table, as well as an exciting new holiday fundraiser, later this year.

All of these actions were taken to offset the revenue lost due to the pandemics cancelation of Newburyport Maritime Days, the museums number one fundraiser. Chairperson Bernhard asked the members to help with the membership promotion. If 10-20% of NBPT residents become members of the four cultural nonprofits: Custom House Maritime Museum; Fire House Theatre; Museum of Old Newbury; and Art Association, it would help each organization tremendously.

The evening closed with an appeal to past directors, members, and volunteers to share and record their Custom House Maritime Museum stories for future enjoyment.

The video of the annual meeting, slate roof drone video and the time lapse video of the Mosely Gallery can be viewed on the CHMM’s YouTube.