Bronze Door Society

Bronze Door Society logo


The Bronze Door Society is the oldest and only member-managed adjunct organization of The Mariners’ Museum. and is an active group of Museum members who gather regularly for lectures, behind-the-scenes tours, and social events in order to:

  • Encourage an in-depth understanding of the Museum’s collections
  • Support the Museum’s mission and programs by funding acquisition, conservation, management, and exhibition of artifacts and works of art
  • Provide educational programs for the community
  • The society is named for the spectacular set of maritime-themed bronze doors that were commissioned by Museum co-founder, Archer M. Huntington, and created in the early 1930’s by renowned American sculptor, Herbert C. Adams, specifically for the Museum’s original entrance.

The society is named for the spectacular set of maritime-themed bronze doors that were commissioned by Museum co-founder, Archer M. Huntington, and created in the early 1930’s by renowned American sculptor, Herbert C. Adams., specifically for the Museum’s original entrance.
See an interactive display of the Bronze Doors


With a minimum gift of $1,000, you can enjoy membership in a unique and historic donor society.

Membership includes:

  • Bronze Door Society affiliation for two household members
  • Mariners' Museum Annual Membership level of your choice*
  • Voting privileges on the selection of projects for the Bronze Door Society
  • Opportunity to join The Bronze Door Steering Committee
  • Opportunity to volunteer for the International Wine Classic, sponsored by The Bronze Door Society
  • Recognition on the Museum's Donor Board
  • Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes tours of the Museum collections and newest acquisitions
  • Exclusive members-only receptions and events
  • Subscription to our quarterly newsletter Ahoy!, and email announcements of Museum events

*Your donation to the Bronze Door Society is fully tax-deductible, less the amount of the General Membership Level selected.


Bronze Door Society images

2016 Annual Bronze Door Society Project Selection Dinner

Friday, October 28, 2016

Each October, Members of The Bronze Door Society are invited to cast their vote for a range of projects developed and presented by the Museum staff. In 2015, $65,800 was awarded to fund a variety of projects. With the resounding success of the 2016 Bronze Door Society International Wine Classic, The Bronze Door Society is poised to continue its mission to designate funds in support of The Mariners' Museum and Park through the selection of proposed projects at this annual event.

Proposed projects:

Presented by Bill Barker, Archivist

I respectfully request $10,000 for the conservation of the Papers of Samuel Hartt Pook, ca. 1869-1888.

Samuel Hartt Pook was born in Brooklyn, New York, 17 January, 1827, was graduated at Portsmouth academy, New Hampshire, in 1842. After graduation he became a naval architect, working directly under his father, Samuel Moore Pook. From 1850 to 1866, Samuel H. Pook was designing clipper ships in Boston, Mass. Among his more famous designs were the Red Jacket, Game Cock, and Northern Lights.

In 1866, he was appointed an assistant naval constructor in the United States Navy. For the next 23 years Pook ascended through the ranks, retiring in 1889. He was responsible for numerous designs during his tenure with the Navy.

The museum is fortunate to own several objects relating to Samuel M. Pook and Samuel H. Pook. Recently, the archives accepted a collection of correspondence and orders relating to Samuel H. Pook’s service in the Navy. Dampstained and soiled, the papers are in dire need of conservation in order to preserve them for posterity.

Presented by Rachel Conley, Collections Management Specialist

I respectfully request $13,465 for the conservation of the oil painting Kaiser Wilhelm II in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

The painting of Kaiser Wilhelm II in front of the Pyramids is a unique and symbolic view of the steamship. As the New York Times posted in 1903, “this ship is a feat which but a few years ago was beyond the range of human imagination.” The Pyramids stand as a testament to the greatness mankind can achieve, just as Kaiser Wilhelm II did in his time.

Because the piece is in such poor condition, we are currently unable to display it and another institution passed on borrowing it for a major exhibition about steamship travel. It is a fascinating image that captures the imagination of all who see it and could be used in a number of different exhibitions.

Presented by Hannah Piner, Coordinator, USS Monitor Center and Foundation

I respectfully request $7,800 for the purchase of 3-D Modeling Equipment for the USS Monitor Center.

Using 3-D photo-modeling technology, USS Monitor Center staff can share the compelling stories of artifacts still in conservation or too fragile to display; can show details without the need for a magnifying glass; and can track changes, take measurements, and make interpretations before conservation is complete. This gives the Museum the opportunity to better tell the story of the USS Monitor, both on-site and online, even though the objects will still be actively undergoing conservation for approximately 15 years. Photogrammetric modeling allows researchers to create highly accurate, interactive 3-D models of every artifact from the 21- by 9-foot iconic turret to a button only an inch in diameter. With this technology, staff can reconstruct and study parts of the ship and parts of the daily lives of the men who served onboard the Union ironclad to share with visitors and scholars alike.

Presented by Marc Nucup, Curator

I respectfully request $35,000 for the purchase of a Viking sword, ca. late 9th century.

The Mariners’ Museum and Park has identified exploration, commerce, and conflict as core maritime concepts. Few cultures personified these concepts as well as the Norse of Scandinavia. For 300 years (the 8th until 10th Centuries AD), Norse mariners went a-viking, conducting voyages that were mixed parts exploration, trade, and raid. These exploits would result in the settlement of Iceland, founding of Russia, conquest of Normandy, and first abortive European settlement in North America. Vikings are a microcosm of maritime history.

For the consideration of the Bronze Door Society is an iconic piece of Norse culture: a sword dated to the late 9th Century AD. Swords were important. Viking swords could be named and figure as characters in sagas. The unique profile of the weapon was the product of an iron forging process producing a blade strong and light. The gold inlay on the pommel and guard of this example indicate it was owned by a warrior of some consequence.

Presented by Sarah Puckitt, Curator of Photography/Photo Archivist

I respectfully request $5,250 for the purchase of two photographs by Robin Hammond.

Robin Hammond is a National Geographic and Time Magazine contributing photographer. His project High Tide introduced the world to the tiny island country of Tuvalu, located halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Due to rising sea-waters caused by climate change, Tuvalu is sinking fast. Its 13,000 residents’ daily lives are determined by the tides. Hammond’s sensitive approach to this topic will resonate with our community. Not only will these photographs augment the contemporary photography in our collection, it is my hope to curate a photographic exhibition at the Museum on this subject. This story garnered two International Photography Awards and the Amnesty International Media Award.

Presented by Brock Switzer, Digital Imaging Specialist and Photographer

I respectfully request $5,900 for the purchase of two 5D Mark III DSLR Camera Bodies and supporting equipment including two Vello BG-C9 Battery Grips and one Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Lens.

The Digital Services Department is currently working with a camera, for events, that is 10 years and two models out of date. With the purchase of new imaging equipment our photographers will be better able to handle increased demands for quality event photography and marketing materials. The two requested cameras will produce higher resolution images that are clearer, sharper and superior in low-light situations as well as allow for broader coverage of events or for simultaneous coverage should the need arise.

June 18, 2016

The Mariners’ Museum and Park would like to express heartfelt appreciation to The Bronze Door Society and their dedicated membership, for the detailed planning, community sponsorship and sparkling atmosphere that endeared the 4th Annual International Wine Classic on June 18, 2016, as one of the most notable soirées in Hampton Roads. Boasting a vibrant crowd of over 250 wine lovers, Museum enthusiasts, and many new faces, this celebration featured unlimited tastings of global and domestic wines, accompanied by flavorful hors d’oeuvres and the relaxing jazz sounds of the renowned Jae Sinnet Trio. Be certain to mark your calendar for next year’s event on June 17, 2017, and don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy superior wines in a spectacular setting.

October 9, 2015

Annual Meeting and Black Tie Selection Dinner, Society members and guests enjoyed dinner in an elegant setting at the base of the Lancaster Eagle, in the Grand Lobby of the Museum. Members voted in the selection of funded activities for the Museum.

Projects funded:

  • General Conservation Survey of the entire Permanent Collection
  • Living History Interpretive Group
  • Conservation of Six Rare Books
  • Set Sail Scholarship Program

Other Project Proposal:

  • Rehousing Project, Triple-Expansion Marine Steam Engine USS Dionysus

June 20, 2015

An elegant evening with:

Oct 10, 2014

Annual Meeting and Black Tie Selection Dinner, Society members and guests enjoyed dinner in an elegant setting at the base of the Lancaster Eagle, in the Grand Lobby of the Museum. Members voted in the selection of funded activities for the Museum.

Projects funded:

  • Teacher In Residence Program
  • pH Monitoring System for the USS Monitor Artifacts
  • Development of a Museum Commemorative Guide

Other Project Proposals:

  • General Conservation Survey of the Museum's Permanent Collection
  • Worthington Pump Replica, final phase

June 21, 2014

More than 200 oenophiles attended the third annual bronze Door Wine Classic on June 21. The event is living up to its promise to be the premier wine tasting experience on the Peninsula. Attendees enjoyed close to 90 exceptional wines accompanied by jazz from The Jae Sinnett Trio. This year’s event included a silent auction featuring never before offered prints of paintings by reknown 19th century maritime artist James Edward Buttersworth, prints by Chesapeake Bay watercolorist Lee Abston & Norfolk photographer Glen McClure, and two large handcrafted sailing sloops. All proceeds of the evening go to furthering The Bronze Door Society’s support of The Mariners’ Museum.

Bronze Door Wine Classic 2014

Oct 11, 2013

Annual Meeting and Black Tie Selection Dinner, Society members and guests enjoyed dinner in an elegant setting at the base of the Lancaster Eagle, in the Grand Lobby of the Museum. Members voted in the selection of funded activities for the Museum.

Projects funded:

  • School Program Sponsorship & Student Membership Program - Funded for $20,000
  • Conservation and display of USS Monitor Pilot/Sack Cost - Funded for $19,300

Other Project Proposals:

  • A Museum scavenger hunt app
  • Anamorphic 3D art
Bronze Door Winners 2013

From left, Anne Marie Millar, Gerry Hanley and Dave Krop

Aug 15, 2013

Members were given an exclusive viewing of the USS Monitor Center Conservation Laboratory by Monitor Center Director David Krop and the conservation staff.  The viewing focused on artifacts in an advanced stage of conservation or ready for display. Refreshments were served on the patio overlooking the Thursdays by the Lake concert.

June 15, 2013

The 2nd annual Bronze Door Wine Classic, quickly becoming the Peninsula's premier wine tasting experience.

Mar 12, 2013

The Bronze Door Society hosted a welcome reception for President Elliot Gruber. Gruber's remarks were enthusiastically received as he highlighted changes and opportunities for the Museum's future.

The Welcome Reception for Museum President Elliot Gruber

The Welcome Reception for Museum President Elliot Gruber

Feb 6, 2013

Members were given a unique viewing of the recently acquired James Edward Buttersworth paintings and some of the more rare textiles in the Museum's collection, including the Confederate flags donated by the Gideon Welles family.

Behind the Scenes, February 2013

Behind the Scenes, February 2013

Oct 12, 2012

Annual Meeting and Black Tie Selection Dinner, Society members and guests enjoyed dinner in an elegant setting at the base of the Lancaster Eagle, in the Grand Lobby of the Museum. Members voted in the selection of funded activities for the Museum.

Projects funded:

  • Artifacts in the Park
  • "Wachusett" journal of the Cruise of the U.S. Steam Sloop

Other Project Proposals:

  • The Mariners' Museum Lecture Series
Artifacts in the Park logo

Aug 1, 2012

The Bronze Door Society had a private reception to meet: Michael Tougias, author of The Finest Hours: The True Story Behind the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue. Reception was sponsored by Mr. Heinz Schiller.  Immediately following the reception, guests enjoyed Mr. Tougias’s lecture at 7:00 p.m.   

Mar 24, 2012

Members were given a rare glimpse into the technology behind the Museum and its exhibitions.

Sept 13, 2009

Hampton Roads Harbor Cruise followed by dinner at the Hampton Yacht Club.

The Steering Council of the Society provides the day-to-day direction and administration of Society operations and to do so, liaises directly with the Museum's Development staff and other Museum organizations. The fifteen members serve on the Council for three years.

The Bronze Door Steering Council

  • Sandra B. Armstrong Co-Chair
  • Mary Sherwood Holt Co-Chair
  • H. Carlyle Gravely
  • Gerald S. Hanley
  • Carol C. Hogg
  • John Holt
  • Steven Irick
  • James R. Knight
  • Ron Lewis
  • Doug Nelson
  • Jim Palmer


During the more than forty years we have lived here, The Mariners' Museum has always been and continues to be a unique and fascinating place to visit. Being involved as members of the Museum and the Bronze Door Society is important , not only because we help to grow the intrinsic value of the Huntington legacy, but also because we are helping to grow one of our community's most valuable historical, and educational assets.

Bob Schappert


The Mariners’ Museum has been a special and exciting destination for me and my family since I could walk! I was raised close by and many Sundays found my mom and dad and me gazing, always in awe, at the huge gold eagle or pushing buttons in the Great Hall of Steam. Now, I’m able to give back some of that joy by supporting the Museum as a member of The Bronze Door Society. The pleasure of joining others to leverage our gifts of support and really make a difference is indescribably satisfying. I urge you to share that pleasure and satisfaction by joining this unique institution, America’s National Maritime Museum!

Ron Lewis


Over the years, The Mariners' Museum has played a large part in my volunteer life, so when the Bronze Door Society was formed, I jumped at the chance to join. I cannot imagine a more wonderful opportunity to provide the Museum with a new item for the collection or a special fundraising event—or anything that might be needed. As a group, we not only sponsor a variety of fundraising events, but we have a wonderful time together! For us, the year culminates at our Annual Dinner, when we get the chance to vote on how to spend our money to best assist the Museum.

Martha Field


My wife and I think that The Mariners' Museum is a fantabulous place! It's not just about ‘ships'—it's about the history of America, the history of the whole civilized world. When you think about it, people have only been flying from one place to another for a little over 50 years. Up until then, for thousands of years, they traveled on the water—in ships. Almost all of us are descendents of immigrants, and almost all of our ancestors got to America—in ships. And The Mariners' Museum tells that story better than any place we can think of!" But there's only room for a small percentage of the Museum's collections to be out on exhibit at a given point in time. The rest are stored ‘behind-the-scenes,' away from the eyes of the general public. And that's the focus of members of the Bronze Door Society: supporting the Museum's collections, whether on exhibit or ‘behind-the-scenes.' It's great to be a member of the Museum, but it's much more fun to be involved in the Museum! That's why Nancy Lee and I are members of the Bronze Door Society!

Tom Clark


I have come to The Mariners' Museum for over 35 years -- for inspiration as a shipmodel builder. It is one of the best maritime museums in the world as I have found out in my travels. Virginia, you have a treasure. My membership in the Bronze Door Society is a great way to support this wonderful institution.

Heinz Schiller


The Bronze Door Society is all about coming together, having great fun, meeting fabulous new people, and increasing one’s knowledge of the maritime world, all while benefiting a world class museum that’s right in our backyard! I’ve been a member for years and am very proud of our accomplishments in supporting the Museum.

Nhu Yeargin

For more information, contact:

Sara Weatherill
Membership Manager
(757) 591-7715