Bronze Door Society

Bronze Door Society logo


The Bronze Door Society is the premier 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.
See an interactive display of the Bronze Doors

Watch the video below to hear first-hand how The Bronze Door Society makes a difference at The Mariners' Museum:


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


Membership includes:

  • Bronze Door Society for two household members
  • Mariners' Museum Annual Membership level of your choice*
  • Voting privileges on the selection of projects for the Bronze Door Society
  • Recognition in the Annual Report and 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

Bronze Door Society Annual Dinner, 2015

October 9, 2015 · 7:00 PM

On October 9, 2015 The Bronze Door Society will have the unique opportunity to participate in the selection of Museum projects at the Bronze Door Society’s Members-only Annual Dinner and Project Selection. This elegant annual event provides Bronze Door Society Members the opportunity to extend the legacy of The Mariners’ Museum founder, Archer M. Huntington, through the funding of special Museum projects. Huntington saw the role of the Museum as conserving, enhancing and promoting access to the collection as a way to preserve the culture of the sea and its tributaries, its conquest by man, and its influence on civilization.

Since its inception, The Bronze Door Society has funded Museum projects totaling more than $500,000. Projects supported over the years have included: the creation of a Teacher-in-Residence Program focusing on STEM education within the Museum’s Education Department; a Commemorative Guide; and the purchase of a pH Monitoring System to further the USS Monitor conservation efforts.

Each year, the Society’s members enjoy an evening of convivial conversation and fine dining with fellow Bronze Door Society Members as well as Museum Staff in an elegant setting at the base of the Lancaster Eagle. Museum Staff present a number of projects to the Society, and Members elect to award funds to top voted project(s).

2015 Project Proposals include:

Conservation of Six Rare Books  |  $15,000

Co-presented by Bill Barker, Archivist and Jennifer Anielski, Librarian

The Library proposes the conservation of six rare books: Thirty Different Drafts of Guinea (not before 1727); Les Hindoûs (1808-1812); Engineers Manual of the Local Marine Board Examinations (1871); and three different specifications books by Cowper Phipps Coles: Apparatus for Defending Guns (1859); Iron-cased Ships of War (1860); and Vessels of War, Forts, &c. (1866). The conservation treatments will stabilize these books, clean them, repair bindings and tears and make them generally available for research or display without endangering them.

Set Sail Scholarship Program  |  $6,800

Sabrina Jones, Grants Administrator, Development

The Set Sail Program will assist in minimizing the barriers that prevent access for disadvantaged populations to the Museum. The targeted population that will benefit directly from these funds are eligible Title I schools located on the Peninsula. This program will cover general admission fees for students visiting the museum as a part of a school group or via Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC).

At a time of decreasing school budgets and less money for field trips, The Education Department would like to increase the number of underserved students from Title 1 schools who are served by our programs (field trips, in-classroom museum teacher lessons, and the IVC program). The Set Sail Scholarship Program will enable schools to access educational programs and reinforce content provided in the classroom through hands-on experiences. It is our goal to provide access and membership for 850 students from Title I schools during the 2015-16 school year.

Proposal of a Living History Interpretive Group  |  $9,000

Marc Nucup, Curator

I propose the creation of a living history interpretive group at The Mariners' Museum. The group could portray a variety of Early Modern and Colonial Era sailors with a primary interpretation being Spanish or English Pirate hunters. Aside from period activities conducted inside the museum and on Lake Maury, the group could participate in local pirate festivals and reenactments. The proposal costs include acquisition of a reproduction small craft, training, & seed fund for maintenance.

General Conservation Survey of the entire Permanent Collection |  $35,000

Presented by Frederick Wallace, Chief Conservator of Museum Collections

Help us create a plan for success by awarding funds towards a General Conservation Survey of the Museum’s Permanent Collection.

A mandatory process when completing applications for potential grant support, this survey of the Museum’s Collection will be pivotal in the Museum’s efforts to solicit funds for financial support to aid in our conservation efforts. This necessary audit will characterize the overall condition of the permanent collection and help identify, as well as prioritize, the efforts and methods required for its care and preservation.

The survey will be conducted by a third-party comprised of six contract conservators who would be hired to complete the project. Findings and recommendations that result from the survey would greatly aid the further development and improvement of Museum operations that relate to collections care, conservation and fundraising. Successful completion of this survey will also open the door to new and larger funding opportunities through Federal granting agencies.

Rehousing Project, Triple-Expansion Marine Steam Engine USS Dionysus | $60,000

Jeanne Willoz-Egnor, Director of Collections Management

In 1978 The Mariners’ Museum acquired what is now one of only four remaining liberty ship engines in the world. During World War II, the vertical triple-expansion reciprocating marine steam engine was used to power Liberty Ships so that production of more sophisticated turbine engines could be reserved for higher priority warships.

Since its arrival, the engine has been stored inside what was intended to be a temporary housing— a large corrugated metal shed. In 1978, curators hoped to acquire funding to plan and build an exhibition on the history of marine propulsion where the engine would serve as the main attraction but the funding never materialized. 

Although that shed has done a good job of keeping the engine dry and relatively undisturbed for the past 37 years it is rapidly deteriorating and it has become imperative that this important, rare engine be rehoused in order to preserve it for future generations.


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
  • Gerald S. Hanley
  • Carol C. Hogg
  • James R. Knight
  • Ron Lewis
  • Nancy O. Snyders
  • John Holt
  • H. Carlyle Gravely


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 Coordinator
(757) 591-7715