To the Patrons of the Custom House Maritime Museum:

On the 9th of July 2020 the Custom House Maritime Museum will reopen its doors as outlined in phase three of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s plan. We are excited to share with you gallery revisions and museum renovations on which we have been hard at work during the period that we have been unable to open.

As we prepare to welcome the public back into the museum, we want to invite you to experience our new exhibition: Entertainment for Man and Horse: Victuals, Libations, and Distractions in an Early American Tavern. This exhibit is focused on the social role of the local tavern in early American history in places like Newburyport. The title of the exhibit comes from a common phrasing used on tavern signs in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. While perhaps sounding somewhat comical to modern ears, the word entertainment here means accommodation.

It is the desire of the Custom House to take a leading role in rebuilding confidence and community connections in this time. In so doing, we take inspiration from the tavern spaces of our history, embodying the social values of our time and central place in our community as a place of assembly, entertainment, education, and a destination to have some fun.

The CHMM looks very different, and will operate with a new truncated daily schedule of Thursday through Saturday 10:00-4:00 and Sunday 12:00-4:00.  Admission to the museum will be timed entry on the hour, similar to a historic house tour model. Tickets can now be purchased online in order to reserve your place for a tour or self-guided visit, and Newburyport residents are free with ID, but we still recommend that you reserve tickets. We can only accommodate six people per hour, and walk-ins will still be allowed as long as we have not reached capacity for that hour.

Please click here to reserve your tickets!

The CHMM board, staff, and volunteers have been taking all precautionary measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 and requests anyone entering the building to comply with these standards as well. Please do not plan to visit if you think you have been exposed, or show signs of illness. The revised tour practices will allow docents to interact with visitors while still practicing social distancing. Facemasks will be required for guests, staff, and volunteers in the museum in order to keep everyone safe. Training sessions and a soft opening July 7th and 8th with sponsors and special guests will help staff fine-tune our new procedures in advance of opening. Routine cleaning with approved products, the installation of sanitizing stations and modifications to the museum store have been made to ensure the safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff.

I hope that you will join us, as well as continue to engage with our ongoing virtual programs, as we reopen.

Joan Whitlow
Executive Director