NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

May 12, 2011

Masters of the maritime: Custom House Museum opens Wednesday

The Custom House Maritime Museum just keeps growing.

Volunteers are spending their time setting up the facility for the season's opening on Wednesday — one that will include an ambitious slate of programs and exhibits, as well as inaugural joint efforts between the museum and other organizations.

It's a far cry from a few years ago when the museum was forced to close its doors for a period to tend to the aftermath of the Mother's Day storms in 2006.

Since it reopened the following year, museum volunteers have worked in full force to expand the role of the Custom House in the city.

This year is no exception.

For the first time in their combined history, the Custom House and the Historical Society of Old Newbury are partnering to host a joint exhibition and free walking tour.

The relationship between the two organizations is rich, Custom House member Michael Mroz said. When the Custom House first opened its doors, the Historical Society provided artifacts and materials for them to house.

Yet, the two entities never joined together on a program until now.

Starting later this month, Newburyporters and tourists can pick up a copy of a walking tour map at various retail shops and businesses throughout the downtown area.

The tour will take them across the neighborhoods of State Street, Fair and Fruit streets and High Street between the two museums, highlighting various landmarks and offering facts and trivia about the sites.

The purchase of one discounted admission will allow walkers into both museums to view two exhibits related to their joint history called, "Risk and Reward: Masters and Merchants in the Making of Newburyport."

"This is a landmark exhibition," Mroz said.

To launch the program, the two museums will each host an opening reception. The exhibit runs from May 25 through Oct. 30.

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