Anonymous donor gives marine museum a boost

Posted Dec. 28, 2010, at 10 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — The Penobscot Marine Museum has received a very welcome Christmas present: a challenge grant from an anonymous donor who will match all new and increased donations to the nonprofit agency up to a total of $10,000.

“Certainly for all nonprofits it is a difficult time for fundraising,” Bob Holtzman, the museum’s communications director, said Tuesday. “The grant is definitely a help here, in that it provides a strong incentive for people either to give for the first time or to increase the amount of their gift this year.”

The challenge runs until the end of March, according to the museum’s education director, Betty Schopmeyer.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said of the grant. “The next $10,000 we would get in donations would be worth $20,000 to us.”

The museum plans to put any additional and increased donations to good use, she said, adding that it is a busy place, even during the winter when the building is closed.

“There’s lots of stuff going on,” she said.

Some events include two new photography exhibits that will open in January at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center and the Maine Farmland Trust gallery, both of which will feature pictures from the museum’s Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co. archives.

There also will be a February program on sailor’s valentines, where participants will hear some romantic stories from the museum’s sea captains’ archives and then have the chance to make their own valentines, Schopmeyer said.

Additionally, museum educators will conduct special programs starting in January for children around Waldo County as well as in Otis, Castine and Matinicus, she said.

In January 2011, the museum will enter its 75th anniversary year and officials have plans for new exhibits and initiatives, museum president Marie Underwood said in a recent press release.

“We really are a regional museum. From Down East through the midcoast and up the river to Bangor,” Schopmeyer said. “We’re pretty busy — and that’s good.”

Holtzman said that he believes some donors already have rallied to the anonymous $10,000 challenge.

“People are recognizing that new and increased donations get a better boost this way,” he said.

For information about the Penobscot Marine Museum or the challenge grant, call 548-2529 or visit www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org.

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