The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Saint Michaels, MD, is located approximately 90 minutes east of Baltimore on Navy point in this Talbot County town on the eastern shore of the state. There are docking facilities for visitors arriving by boat.
The most complete collection of Chesapeake Bay artifacts, visual arts, and indigenous water craft in the United States is on display here.
This is the only facility focused on detailing the history of the Chesapeake Bay Region. The Breene M. Kerr Center for Chesapeake Studies at the museum promotes ongoing scholarly investigation. It collects oral histories from people that have been involved with the rich local maritime heritage as well as throughout the Bay.
The Center interprets the local lore, legend and history as well as archeological and environmental studies throughout the area of this 180 mile long Bay.
The eighteen-acre waterfront location includes Navy Point, which was which once filled with busy docks, seafood packing houses and work boat traffic that linked the Bay to the national and global market.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Saint Michaels, MD, began in 1965 on a two acre section of the current 18 acre campus. One year later it acquired and re-located the Hooper Strait Lighthouse, which had been condemned for demolition, to this site.
The lighthouse dates back to 1879. It is a "screwpile" structure, which means that it was built atop iron pilings tipped with a screw to turn into the mud for as much as 10 ft. This made the lighthouse vulnerable to ice floes which could break the pilings.
The Small Boat Shed here houses several distinct small working and recreational vessels. Several log canoes are examples of English changes to native design. Differences in the systems for sailing used in different varieties of log hull boats from the 1800s can be seen as well.
There are also examples of rudimentary vessels made by area inhabitants.
At Waterman's Wharf at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Saint Michaels, MD, there are sea-harvesting activities that can be joined into by visitors. This is a recreated crabber's shanty with live crab catches being sifted through.
In the water, a number of floating boats are also part of the museum's collection. On weekends in the summer months, the museum's seaworthy fleet maintains a tradition of racing, with museum staff at the helm.
A steamboat exhibition can also be seen in one of the buildings. This exhibit is changed periodically.
Other exhibits here include one that is dedicated to the history of waterfowl hunting. Another looks at the oyster from when it leaves the Bay to when it arrives on the table. This is a behind the scenes experience of the oyster workers in their world.
The museum provides space for waterside weddings, accommodating up to 400 people.
The museum closes on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days. During the winter it closes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The seasonal hours vary slightly as well.
Photo of Lighthouse atChesapeake Bay Museum