By Annette Hinkle
A Conversation with Greg Therriault, the new museum manager at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum.
Was your first season at the museum all you expected it to be?
As a 35 year village resident, I always admired the building and had been here on numerous occasions with family visitors or for events. But getting to see the wonderful building this is by spending time here by myself before the season began gave me a wonderful opportunity to think of things I’d like to personally see happen to build on what the board and prior management team have started.
What are some of those things and how do you think your skill set will further those goals?
The key word is skill set. This year we have an entirely new staff and the board has looked at the individual skills of the people they hired and chose people gifted in many areas. Vanessa Petruccelli is our wonderful business manager and very astute, Richard Doctorow has great experience and knowledge of whaling and is a perfect choice as collections manager. Michael Butler, former Eastville Community Historical Society president and an artist, brings a great deal of knowledge to managing the front of the house, and I come with a management background and a varied career. We each have specific skills and new eyes are looking at this building, what we can do and how we can proceed and build on the success.
We’re also reaching out to encourage those who have been friends of the museum to spend more time here and participate on greater level and also welcome new visitors.
Let’s talk about this summer’s exhibits and the community reaction.
We had four wonderful shows this summer. The opening for the first exhibit curated by Dan Rizzie and Peter Marcelle, “A Whale of a Show,” was the most wonderful Sag Harbor block party you could ever have. That was followed by Marcelle’s curated art show “Made in Sag Harbor,” then we had the tribute to D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus with a wonderful kite installation by Scott Sandell and the collaboration with the Parrish Art Museum and Almond Zigmund.
Each of those openings has been a revelation to me. People respond to this museum as if it’s their own front porch and front yard. It’s the heart of the community. While our wonderful neighbor, the library, across the street is being worked on and with the Custom House, Canio’s, the Sag Harbor Historical Society and us all on upper Main Street, it’s an opportunity to showcase the whaling collection and be creative with the front parlor to have exhibitions that connect and reflect life in Sag Harbor today.
People have said, “You’re turning this into an art museum.” Not exactly, but we do embrace arts in a profound way. We are a history museum, but our current history is rich in literary and visual arts. To me it makes perfect sense.
What else did this summer bring?
One of the other things I’m proud of is an educational grant we received from the Fridolin Foundation. We partnered with the Bridgehampton Child Care Center and did a summer series with artists and poets who met with the kids and had a wonderful afternoon at the museum. We hope to do it again.
Now it’s Fiesta time, which kicks off HarborFest this Friday. What can we expect at the party?
Several years ago a group of individuals formed Friends of the Whaling Museum and became board members. A new group of younger families asked if they could help. Gina Hadley – a lifelong resident — and her husband Eric Hadley, Allison and Luke Babcock and Julie and Steve Hatfield agreed to chair this year’s event.
We wanted to do something different that would be fun for their friends and somewhat different than what we’ve done in the past. They thought of the Montaco food truck and Montauk brewing company and DJ Mister Lama. So come to the fiesta – it’ll be a great night and the weather will be great.
How will money raised from the party help the museum?
We’re in the midst of a significant capital campaign for painting and restoration work and still need the community’s help. The Century Arts Foundation offered us a $50,000 grant, which we matched six weeks ago, but we still need to raise more. This end of season party to celebrate HarborFest is also a final push for raising money.
When will painting begin?
The museum closes next Wednesday and painting begins on Monday, September 16. Ince painting will do the work and it will take eight weeks or so. If any building issues arise during the process we will bring in the firm Strata, Baxter Design/Build.
This is phase I of a several year project. Phase II will be the interior of the museum — painting, upgrade of bathrooms and roofing. Phase III will be the fencing the landscaping.
We hope the community will embrace and support us over the next several years.
Tickets to the Fiesta on Friday, September 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. are $50 ($12.50 for children). To reserve, call 725-0770. The Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum is at 200 Main Street, Sag Harbor.