Chesapeake Maritime Museum celebrates 50 years of history

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has the largest collection of Bay craft in the world. The museum celebrates 50 years in 2015.

A golden anniversary deserves a party and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., kicks off its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration with a Party on the Point on May 23.

“The museum is a real treasure, not just for Maryland, but for the whole country, because it tells the story of the Chesapeake Bay in terms of the people who have lived and worked here,” said Cassandra Vanhooser, who directs the Talbot County tourism effort. “The name Chesapeake resonates around the world and attracts international visitors here.”

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has the largest collection of Bay craft in the world. The museum celebrates 50 years in 2015.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has the largest collection of Bay craft in the world. The museum celebrates 50 years in 2015.

The May 23 event features live music, Rosie’s Tavern, regional foods, family activities, and craft vendors. During the festival, scenic river cruises will be offered on the museum’s 1920 buyboat Winnie Estelle, as well as on a selection of historic boats in the museum’s floating fleet.

The 1888 classic yacht Elf, which is maintained by the Classic Yacht Restoration Guild, will also offer dockside tours.

Entry to the festival is free for museum members and children under 6, or $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students with ID, and $6 for children 6 to 17. Boat rides and food are additional.

The nearby Crab Claw Restaurant joins in with a May 22 evening event and Patriot Cruises will offer special cocktail cruises on May 24, so there is plenty of reason to spend a night or two in delightful St. Michaels.

The festival will also feature the opening of a new exhibition, “A Broad Reach: 50 Years of Collecting,” that puts on view 50 significant objects that came into the museum’s collection over the past 50 years. The exhibit is presented on both floors of the Steamboat Building and runs through Feb. 28, 2016.

From more than 60,000 items, curators selected those objects with the richest stories to tell, from a humble fire axe to a buxom figurehead. Some are arresting, some transcendent — but all explore the Chesapeake and its changing environment and culture during the last 50 years. Some of the objects represent bygone Chesapeake trades and stories that have all but disappeared in recent years. A sailmaker’s workbench, a Chesapeake Bay Ferry captain’s uniform, and a jewel-like logbook featuring illustrations by prominent 19th-century Baltimore artists are among the artifacts.

Snapshots wanted

Another part of the anniversary celebration is an effort to collect photographs for a future “Snapshots to Selfies” exhibit. The museum is asking amateur and professional photographers to submit photos of a summer moment between 1965 and the present that include a person (no landscapes) and that feature the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries. Photos may be submitted through Nov. 30.

The museum was established in three houses along St. Michaels’ harbor in 1965 and now occupies more than 18 waterfront acres and 12 exhibition buildings, including the historic 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse and Small Boat Shed.

The museum also exhibits and maintains the largest collection of Chesapeake Bay watercraft in the world.

For more information

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum: cbbm.org

Talbot Co. Tourism: tourtalbot.org

 

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