Custom House Maritime Museum Receives Education Grant

Programs will benefit Newburyport Public School students

The chairman and directors of the Custom House Maritime Museum announced at a First Friday event that the organization had received a generous education grant from the Edmund and Ruth Burke Education Foundation and Kennard L. Bowlen Charitable Trust that will fund lectures, displays and field trips for Newburyport Public School students and teachers to expand awareness of the Port’s maritime relationship with American history.

“The Custom House Maritime Museum contains a wealth of artifacts, memorabilia, art and models representing Newburyport’s three centuries of rich maritime history,” said museum Chairman Mark Guay.

RIGHT : Bob O’Brien, CHMM Education Committee Chair, announced the grant at the May First Friday reception.

First to take advantage of the Custom House Maritime Museum program will be Grade 3 and 4 students at the Bresnahan Elementary School who will benefit from a Maritime Adventure Walking Tour focused on key sites such as shipyards, captain’s houses and the U.S. Coast Guard station as well as artifacts and monuments throughout Newburyport that tie to the region’s maritime history.

During Friday’s event, Jim Connolly, of Connolly & Connolly, who represents the Burke Foundation and Bowlen Charitable Trust and was instrumental in arranging funding was presented with a proclamation from Bob O’Brien, Education Committee Chair, expressing the museum’s gratitude.

O’Brien, who will manage and direct the grant funding, stated: “The museum’s longer-term goal is to invest in the educational infrastructure and support systems necessary to improve our outreach to the community and to make the community aware of the rich history housed within our walls.  Engaging our citizens when they are young helps us to spread the word and to make our history a lifelong learning experience.”

LEFT: Jim Connolly, of Connolly & Connolly, representing the Burke Foundation and Bowlen Charitable Trust receiving the CHMM proclamation from Bob O’Brien.

The overall program will use retired educators, assisted by high school National Honor Society students and other groups, to research projects, collect artifacts, prepare exhibits and make formal presentations.  While the development of the program begins with cooperation from educators in the Newburyport schools, the intent is to include participation from other schools throughout the Merrimack Valley using both physical visits as well as technology deployment.

Besides the walking tour, other elements of the program include a Black History Month project to uncover the roles played by African Americans in Newburyport’s maritime history, a ships model exhibit exploring the role these ships and their builders and crew played in our history, exploring the architectural significance Robert Mills played throughout the United States, and the benefits to be derived from a museum. The final undertaking will be to establish a learning kiosk in the museum that will allow visitors, students and educators to access materials digitally.