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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum by Philip J. Webster isitors, from stud ents and their teachers to US President George W Bush, have discovered an inspirational place of learning along the Eastern Shore of Maryland-the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM). Their enthusias m might best be described by one young visitor's farher-"He loves this. I can't get him to leave." The history of the Chesapeake Bay comes alive at the museum through a diverse blend of thirty-five buildings, dozens of local watercraft, interactive exhibits, and creative educational programming played out on an eigh teen-acre point ofland overlooking the Miles River and St. Michael's H arbor. The museum will be the site of the National M aritime Historical Society's Annual Meeting this 3 1 May, and all members are invited to visit and learn from this unique educational institution. Founded 43 years ago on the sire of commercial seafood packing houses on Navy Point, the museum now has a wide range of exhibits and buildings tracing the geological, social, and economic history of the Bay from its formation (aided by glaciers) to the present day. Its collections range from boars-with 85 vessels, it makes up the largest collection extanr of C hesapeake Bay watercraft-to paint-

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Waterman's Wharf features a typical shanty used by crabbers and oystermen.

ings, sketches and watercolors, ship models, oyster cans, decoys, guns, and ship's signboards. They also include some larger structures-a Chesapeake screwpile lighthouse and a drawbridge, transported over warer from Hooper Strait and T ilghman Island's Knapps Narrows to the museum's campus. A 10,800-volume library serves as a treasure trove for those researching just abour any topic related to the Chesapeake; it includes ships plans, manuscripts, and sketches from experts such as Cometclass designer C. Lowndes Johnson , boat designer John Trumpy, famed maritime historian Howard I. Chapelle, and marine artist Louis J. Feuchrer. The museum's three newest exhibits trace the transition of the Chesapeake Bay

In 1966, a year after the museum opened, the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse was decommissioned, removed from its location in the Bay in sections, and taken to the museum on barges.

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from a place of work to a place of play and explain the oystering and crabbing industries that underpin the Bay's maritime economy. These topics are augmented by a constantly changing array of exhibits that spotlight subjects as diverse as marshes, the African-American experience on the Bay, and Chesapeake cultural icons that will look familiar to anyo ne who grew up here and will give perspective to those who are just visiting the region. Other exhibits focus on Chesapeake Bay history, warerfowling, and regional small boats. With its working boatyard, summer sailing instruction, sleepovers in rhe lighthouse, and trips on the museum's floating fleet, it is a museum one can visit time and rime again. Visitors seeking a more interactive experience can try their hand at ship model building, enjoy outdoor concerts at the bandstand, tour the decks of visiting vessels, attend festivals that honor the oyster and crab, sm all craft and classic boats, or rake a course at the museum's Academy for Life-Long Learning. Above all, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a people's museum. A full- and part-time staff of over fifty and about 200 volunteers bring the buildings and exhibits to life, supported by some 6,500 museum members and over 70,000 visitors each year. How the people love this museum! A four-year-old mans the deck of a reduced-scale skipjack and catches the wind, while her brother stands at the wheel of Thor, a 60-foor buy boat, scanning the waters ahead-all while remaining safe on dry land. A unique birthday parry puts a group of yo ungsters in the Hooper Strait lighthouse to snuggle down for the night, reliving the life of the light keepers who manned the structure years before. Hardy sailors crowd outrigger boards on the Edmee S, the museum's racing log canoe, keeping alive a sailing tradition on the Bay. Visitors slurp down oysters and pound crabs, sometimes in voracious quantities, enjoying the bounty of the Chesapeake made famous by its seafood industry. Others embark on an early-morning nature voyage on Mr. Jim, the museum's buy boat, awed by the variety of waterfowl they see in a crisp autumn dawn-ducks, geese, mute swans, and eagles-all out for their SEA HISTORY 122, SPRING 2008

Sea History 122 - Spring 2008  

16 Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, by Philip J. Webster • 20 Wireless Goes to Sea: Guglielmo Marconi's Radio and SS Ponce, by Captain Henry...

Sea History 122 - Spring 2008  

16 Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, by Philip J. Webster • 20 Wireless Goes to Sea: Guglielmo Marconi's Radio and SS Ponce, by Captain Henry...

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