Winter Happenings at Maritime Museums on the Chesapeake

What’s Up in Winter at Maritime Museums on the Chesapeake Bay?

From Havre de Grace to Norfolk, the maritime museums along the Chesapeake Bay plan winter events and exhibits for sailors, boaters, and lovers of maritime history. Look closely at each museum’s offerings below as some will be virtual. Take advantage of the chance to participate in more distant museums’ events from the comfort of your own home, or maybe take a road trip or two and explore the Bay’s museums! 

Annapolis Maritime Museum Chesapeake Bay
Annapolis Maritime Museum in the Eastport section of Annapolis, Maryland, on Back Creek on the Chesapeake bay.

Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park

The scoop: The Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park (AMM) is housed in the historic McNasby Oyster House, the perfect setting to educate the public on the region’s proud maritime history, the ecological diversity of the Bay, and the environmental impacts of humans due to over-harvesting and depletion of the oyster population. The waterfront campus in the Eastport section of Annapolis, MD, includes permanent indoor exhibits, three transient piers, an adjacent beachside park, and an education center across the creek.

Winter happenings: AMM’s permanent, in-person exhibits and art gallery are open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The museum’s longstanding winter lecture series will take place on Zoom on Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. from January 13 through March 3. Topics range from the Civil War and stories of slavery and escape to biodiversity, oysters, ospreys, and Bay restoration. Find more in the SpinSheet calendar. Buy $10 tickets online (free for First Mate members and above).

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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Boat building at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St MIchaels, Maryland.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

The scoop: Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) is an educational organization dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and culture of the entire Chesapeake Bay region, and making this resource available to all. Located in St. Michaels, MD, CBMM’s campus includes a floating fleet of historic boats, 12 exhibition buildings, and changing special exhibitions, all set on the waterfront of the Miles River and St. Michaels Harbor. The museum serves more than 75,000 guests each year, and its collection of historic Chesapeake Bay watercraft—maintained by shipwrights and their apprentices in the museum’s working shipyard—is the largest in existence.

There is always something new to explore at CBMM, such as the living shoreline along the waterfront, the historic Tolchester Beach Bandstand (circa 1880), the Point Lookout fog bell tower (circa 1888), and many other permanent exhibits that call CBMM home. Guests can step aboard the oyster harvesting skipjack E. C. Collier and enter the world of the working watermen of the Chesapeake Bay or try their hand at harvesting seafood at Watermen’s Wharf, a recreated crabber’s shanty. There is a history of waterfowling exhibit, along with a Maryland crab meat company exhibit, and of course the Hooper Strait Lighthouse, built in 1879 and moved to CBMM in 1966.

Winter happenings: CBMM’s in-person exhibits and museum store are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through March. The museum’s winter speaker series covers a variety of topics—boat building, oyster aquiculture, crab industry, and more—and will be a mix of in-person and virtual events. Find the full list and link to $7.50 tickets (free for members) online.

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The pretty campus of the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, off the Patuxent River.

Calvert Marine Museum

The scoop: The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) in Solomons, MD, invites guests to explore the unique story of the Chesapeake Bay, from our Prehistoric past to our maritime heritage and natural environment. A particular draw of CMM is the Paleontology Gallery with a life-size diorama that recreates the world of the Miocene and a 35-foot skeletal restoration of the extinct Miocene giant white shark, Carcharocles megalodon. At the end of the gallery visitors will find the fossil preparation lab where trained volunteers prepare fossils found along the beaches of Calvert Cliffs. At the touch tank interpreters are always on hand to introduce guests to some of the curious creatures in the Chesapeake Bay and nearby Atlantic Ocean including horseshoe crabs, diamondback terrapins, sea stars, and prickly sea urchins.

Winter happenings: CMM will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for permanent exhibits and the children’s Discovery Room. Drum Point Lighthouse remains open for guided tours. The Maritime Performance Series kicks off January 28 with Diane Daly in the Harms Gallery at 7 p.m.; buy $20 tickets online ($25 at the door).

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The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum at the top of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum

The scoop: The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum (HDGMM) in Havre de Grace, MD, is situated where the Susquehanna River meets the upper Chesapeake Bay and tells the story of the region’s rich maritime history. The museum was established in 1988, and in 2015 a new Environmental Center and Classroom was unveiled to better educate the community about environmental estuarine, wetland, and upland watershed science and environmental stewardship.

The 10,000 square foot, three-story modern building includes two galleries on the main floor that also function as public and private event spaces. The ground floor supports a working boatshop as well as an Environmental Center, which houses a gallery, indoor and outdoor classroom, and research/teaching laboratory. Behind, and immediately adjacent to the museum, is a small tidal wetland, crossed by the Havre de Grace Promenade.

Winter happenings: The museum will be open Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. through March 31. HDGMM will host a Maryland Boating Safety Course for a Certificate of Boating Safety February 26-27 for $20; proceeds benefit the museum and the USCG Mutual Assistance Fund. At print time a lecture series was being planned. Find details in the event calendar in the New Year.

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The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

The Mariners’ Museum and Park

The scoop: The 550-acre Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, VA, is an urban oasis, home to the 167-acre Lake Maury and the Noland Trail (a five-mile shoreline trail with 14 bridges) and more than 90,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, including the prestigious International Small Craft Center, and the award-winning USS Monitor Center. The Small Craft Center features nearly 150 boats from 42 countries and is one of the few truly internationally focused collections in the world. The Monitor Center exhibition and conservation lab houses 210 tons of artifacts from the Civil War ironclad Monitor, which were recovered from NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The Mariners’ Museum Library and Archives is home to more than 78,000 books; 800,000 photographs, films, and negatives; and more than one million pieces of archival material, making it the largest maritime library in the Western Hemisphere.

Winter happenings: The museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily—except for January 17-21 when it will be closed for maintenance. The free lunchtime history lecture “Hampton Roads History Lecture: Diversity Among Virginia Lighthouse Keepers” will be held January 7 in person as well as streamed online. A Safety at Sea Course will unfold February 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find details online.

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Learn more about maritime museums here.