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Exhibitions Opening Reception

  • Museum of Old Newbury 98 High Street Newburyport United States (map)
A Call to Arms.PNG

The Museum of Old Newbury is pleased to announce the opening reception for two new exhibitions, A Call to Arms: Newburyport Defends the Nation and Space, Light, and Ornament: Early Meetinghouses of Old Newbury.  The reception will take place on Thursday, July 11 from 5:30-7:30pm, and light refreshments will be served.  RSVP to or 978-462-2681.

A Call to Arms focuses on Newburyport’s role in the American Revolution and Civil War.  With rich collections in these subject areas, the exhibition highlights important people and events during some of the most volatile times in our nation’s history.  This exhibition is supported by grant funding from the Essex National Heritage Commission and the Edmund & Ruth Burke Educational Foundation.

During the American Revolution, Newburyport both embraced and helped to establish the new identity of an independent America.  Newburyport men volunteered for the militia, sailors became privateers, and a local Committee of Correspondence communicated regularly with surrounding com­munities about their plans and actions.

Nearly a century later during the Civil War, Newburyport men were quick to enlist in the Union army, with some landing in a New York regiment after local quotas were met.  Still, the city remained ambivalent regarding slavery, the central issue of the war.  In the interest of the local economy, reliant on shipping from slaveholder states and nations, many local residents did not openly support abolition. 

A Call to Arms explores these defining moments in American history, and how Newburyport both influenced and experienced them.  Fascinating objects on display include a waistcoat belonging to Patrick Tracy, a member of Newburyport’s Committee of Correspondence, and a flame-stitched wallet belonging to Dr. Eliphalet Emery, a surgeon aboard a privateer.  From the Civil War era, visitors can learn about Robert Boody, a local Medal of Honor recipient, and view the death mask of famed abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. 

Space, Light, and Ornament: Early Meetinghouses of Old Newbury reveals the essential role of meetinghouses in the civic and spiritual lives of the local community in the 17th to 19th centuries.  Objects from the museum’s collections include portraits, archival documents, church adornments, and other artifacts belonging to early ministers from the First Parish of Newbury, the First Religious Society, St. Paul’s Church, Old South Church, and Byfield Parish Church.  A focal point of the exhibition is a gilded cock weathervane attributed to Shem Drowne, circa 1725. The acquisition from the First Religious Society was made possible by a grant from an anonymous donor.

This exhibition is supported by grant funding from the Institution for Savings, the Rodigrass-Weare Foundation, and the H. Patterson Hale, Jr. Charitable Foundation.

Earlier Event: June 30
Reading Frederick Douglass
Later Event: July 25
Newburyport and the Triangle Trade