Custom House Maritime Museum
Navigate through history
Navigate Through Maritime History
The Maritime heritage in Newburyport, Massachusetts runs deep.
As the eastern seacoast’s first major commercial port, and the birthplace of the U.S. Coastguard, there is plenty to preserve and celebrate.
Much of this history can be seen at the Custom House Maritime Museum in downtown Newburyport. This includes an extensive collection of maritime art, model clipper ships and displays from infamous shipwrecks such as the Carlyle Ship Collection of Duncan McFarlane.
Built in 1835, the Custom House served as a place to promote overseas trade and tax collection of imported goods on the Newburyport waterfront.
After a long period of transition, the Newburyport Maritime Society was founded in 1968 to restore and manage the Custom House, now regarded as a premiere maritime museum.
Open year round, the museum not only serves as an educational center and research facility, but also as a meeting place for professional and social gatherings.
Custom tours and museum rentals for concerts, weddings and other special events make the Custom House a true treasure of Newburyport.
The Newburyport Maritime Society devoted to, “connecting the past to the living history of today through new relationships with local artistic, business and environmental organizations.”
Custom House Maritime Museum
Spanish Tall Ship Nao Santa Maria Sails into Newburyport
Mark your calendars, from May 31st through June 10th the 200-ton Spanish tall ship, Nao Santa Maria, will visit Newburyport, a city rich in maritime history. The Custom House Maritime Museum will dock this replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria at the city’s Waterfront Park as part of their Newburyport Maritime Days 2019 celebration.
The Nao Santa Maria is scheduled to sail into Newburyport, its one and only stop on the Northeast coast, on Friday, May 31st. The ship’s exact arrival time is dependent on the tides, but it should be visible from Plum Island around 2-3 pm. The ship must wait for high tide to enter the harbor and should be docked downtown between 11 – 11:30 pm. The Spanish tall ship’s arrival will be visible from Plum Island to Salisbury, flying an exact replica of Columbus’ Spanish flag. Built and launched in Spain in 2018, the 92-foot Nao Santa Maria was created by the same private foundation that built El Galeón, the Spanish tall ship that visited Newburyport in 2016. The Nao Santa Maria was built to honor the 555th anniversary of Christopher Columbus sailing to America from Spain.
Public tours will be available daily from June 1st through June 9th from 9 am to 6 pm. Tickets are $10/adult, $5/child, or $25/family and can be purchased in advance online or at the Custom House Maritime Museum gift shop. Once the Spanish tall ship has docked, tickets will be available during daily tour hours on the back lawn of the museum. Public tour tickets can be used on any day or time that tours are being operated.
Along with public tours, the Custom House Maritime Museum has also arranged many fun events throughout the ship’s stay. Board the Nao Santa Maria for a private breakfast on Saturday, June 1st and 8th or dress your kids up for a special Little Pirates themed breakfast on Sunday, June 2nd and 9th. For an adult night out, purchase tickets to the CHMM Pirates Party featuring nationally touring Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Changes in Latitudes, dancing, and rum cocktails. Attend the CHMM Black Tie Gala for an elegant evening with a 12 piece big band playing the Great American Songbook, food catered by the Poynt, and a selection of Spanish wines. The Council for Aging will be aboard the Spanish tall ship on Wednesday morning, June 5th for coffee and donuts and a cocktail hour will take place for ticket holders on Wednesday evening. For a full list of events, days and times visit our events calendar. Tickets for all private events may also be purchased ahead of time online or at the Custom House gift shop. Pre-purchase is strongly encouraged, as tickets to these special events are limited and do sell out quickly.
In addition to all the fun on board the Nao Santa Maria, the Custom House Maritime Museum will also host an outdoor market showcasing local businesses at the waterfront park on June 8th & 9th, from 9 am to 5 pm. The Newburyport Collection will feature 18 local businesses to explore, sample, and shop.
A visit to the Custom House Maritime Museum is the perfect way to wrap up your Spanish tall ship visit. Whether you are a tourist or local, this museum is full of information and history about the city of Newburyport and the Merrimack Valley. From displays of famous shipwrecks to the history of the Coast Guard, there is something for everyone.
If you enjoy dining and shopping in the Greater Newburyport area, you may want to consider purchasing a Newburyport VIP Card in support of the Custom House Maratime Museum. The VIP Card provides discounts at 180 Greater Newburyport restaurants and shops and is available as a Digital VIP Card in the Newburyport App or as a Physical VIP Card. Purchase one card for $25 or two for $40 and $10 of your purchase will be donated to the Custom House Maritime Museum. Physical VIP Cards are available for purchase in the museum gift shop and both Digital and Physical VIP Cards can be purchased online. VIP Cardholders receive 10% off purchases of $25 or more in the museum gift shop and 50% off museum admission.