Martha's Vineyard Museum Feasibility Study
Vineyard Haven, MA

Cultural   Planning

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum, formerly the Martha’s Vineyard Historic Society and an important island institution since 1922, currently occupies a small parcel in the center of Edgartown, it’s home since 1932. Current facilities are wholly inadequate for the display and storage of art and visitation is hindered by limited parking during peak summer months. With their functionality severely hampered, the museum has explored opportunities for relocation and growth over the last decade. To that end, Oudens Ello Architecture in partnership with South Mountain Company – a design-build firm based on the island – were chosen through an invited designer selection process in the fall of 2010 to evaluate a 5-acre waterfront property in Vineyard Haven, half a mile from the center of town and the island’s primary ferry terminal. Located at the center of this property on a promontory with commanding views of the harbor is a 10,000 square-foot historic marine hospital dating back to 1895 and used for the last 50 years as a school and summer camp. The goal of the three-month feasibility study was to test the appropriateness of the site for use by the museum, help the Museum’s Board make an informed decision about purchase of the property, and provide materials to support fundraising efforts.

OEA conceived of a design strategy for the new museum, which showcases this iconic building as the new frontispiece and visitor entry for an expanded museum, and itself an important “artifact” in the museum’s collection. To its side in deference to the old building is a new, two-story, 20,000 square-foot, state of the art exhibition and collections storage wing nestled against the wooded north edge of the site and defining one side of a large outdoor events lawn. The new wing allows the museum to effectively double their exhibition space and display and store artwork in a climate-controlled environment that meets the highest standards, increasing the institution’s borrowing and lending capabilities. Building on OEA’s relationship with an energy and sustainability consultant, now employed by South Mountain Company and currently supporting OEA’s efforts on another project on Martha’s Vineyard, the design team is committed to finding solutions that maximize building performance and minimize energy and water consumption.

The completed study was well-received by the institution, the Vineyard Haven community and island at large and following the museum’s recent purchase of the property, current efforts are underway to launch a capital campaign to solidify plans for the next phase of growth.

Study Completed 2011
30,000 square feet