As it turns out, some people just can’t keep their hands off Henry Beetle Hough’s desk.

Perhaps they were attempting the impossible — trying to tidy up the legendary Vineyard Gazette editor’s overflowing workspace, piled high with newspapers, documents, books, magazines, letters, a rotary phone, an autographed baseball and other memorabilia.

It is one of one of the featured items of Tomorrow’s History: 175 Years of the Vineyard Gazette, an exhibit at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum that opened in July and ends this Sunday.

The exhibit space features two large rooms on the museum’s second floor that document the Gazette’s past and present. They’re linked by a small room containing a facsimile of Mr. Hough’s desk. (His real desk would not fit out the Gazette’s door, so a similar desk from the paper’s reception area, surely one he used at some point in his 65-year career, was used.)

A sign on the desk says “Do Not Touch,” but exhibit curator Anna Barber still finds the clutter, meticulously staged from old photos, looking slightly different each time she checks on the room.

“The museum professional in me cringes and the other part is sort of [that] I love that people want to know,” Ms. Barber said this week, laughing over the phone. “It should be hands-on. That’s how you learn about Henry, that’s how you learn about his interests, the depths he went into to do a story.” (For the record, cameras are scanning the exhibit rooms; so visitors are advised not to get any bright ideas.)

The exhibit reveals the dynamic of a historical institution with its own archives and that of a modern-day platform for the latest news, events and other information, in both broadsheet and digital formats.

“We really want to focus on historical context, because that’s our job,” Ms. Barber said, speaking for the museum. But in discussions with Gazette staff, she said she came to more fully appreciate that “this is a living, evolving newspaper that is forward looking and forward thinking, so we want to make sure we tell the story that extends it into the future.”

With video, text and audio (including the soundtrack for the desk room, an interview of Mr. Hough by contributing editor Phyllis Meras), the exhibit begins at the beginning: a framed copy of Volume 1, No. 1, from May 14, 1846. Although publisher Edgar Marchant noted “our sheet is somewhat barren of news this week,” it contained plenty of stories, poetry, anecdotes and ads, along with reports of incoming and outgoing whaling vessels. “The very first newspaper,” Ms. Barber said. “It’s amazing.”

Her favorite artifact happens to be a ladle that was used to dispense hot metal. It was donated to the museum by the Reston family, which bought the newspaper from Mr. Hough in 1968 and sold it in 2010 to Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg, only the fourth family to own the Gazette since its founding.

“Sometimes the most interesting objects are those you would not take a second look at without knowing the story behind it,” Ms. Barber said. “It speaks to an age in which it took so much effort and so long to put out the newspaper. And yet it came out. It was prolific. From the beginning, the Gazette was unstoppable. No matter what.”

When museum and Gazette staff began planning the exhibit in January, the centerpiece was meant to be the Adams No. 248 press that printed the first newspaper. It sits in the newspaper’s first-floor space that serves as its own small history exhibit. Ms. Barber said a fair amount of time was spent strategizing how to get the machinery out of the building in Edgartown and onto the second floor of the Vineyard Haven museum. “I think the big question was: would the floor hold its weight,” she said.

Instead, Mr. Hough’s desk became the anchor, clutter and all.