CBMM’s collection has more than 70,000 objects, all related to the Chesapeake Bay.
Inquire about exploring CBMM’s collections here.
CBMM’s watercraft collection is the largest and most important collection of Chesapeake watercraft in the world, with 92 vessels built from the 1880s to the 1980s, including a floating fleet seen at CBMM, and a selection of wooden sail, power, and row boats. All of the region’s waterfowling boats are represented, along with most of the major types used in the region’s fisheries, along with a good sample of recreational watercraft.
CBMM’s working shipyard maintains the floating fleet in working condition, and stewards all objects in CBMM’s watercraft collections. All work is done in full public view, with woodworking, boatbuilding, and other maritime-related programs offered in the boatshop throughout the year,Click here to view our Floating Fleet
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has a large collection of waterfowling-related objects including decoys, waterfowling vessels, guns, tools, clothing and related ephemera. CBMM’s extensive collection of decoys includes duck, goose, swan, and shorebird decoys by 70 regional makers such as Sam Barnes, Ben Dye, Daddy Holly, Ira Hudson, and the Ward brothers. Much of CBMM’s waterfowling collection, including items from the Harry S. Walsh collection, is on permanent display in our Waterfowling exhibition.
Included in the collections of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum are over 50 examples of marine inboard and outboard gasoline and steam engines for propulsion as well as deck engines. Several of these are currently on permanent display in our At Play on the Bay Building.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has an extensive collection of more than 300 detailed scale ship models of Bay watercraft as well as folk art “sailor-made” models (Including Pilot #1, made by one of the boat’s crew and representing the first steam pilot vessel in America) and builders’ half-models used in lieu of plans for local construction. Many of these models are on permanent display in our Bay History building.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has more than 1,500 historic and contemporary paintings, prints and other artworks, as well as approximately 60,000 photographs in its collections. Significant regional artists such as Louis Feuchter, H. Bolton Jones, Otto Muhlenfeld, Leonard Vosburgh, and photographers Robert de Gast, Constance Stuart Larrabee, and John C. Whitehead are represented in the collections. Chesapeake landscapes, trades, fisheries, vessels, and the environment are all represented in works on canvas and paper.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s collections include many tools of maritime trades and fisheries. Figureheads, decorative carvings, anchors, ceramics, paper ephemera, navigational instruments, textiles, and rigging gear are all represented in the collections. In particular, CBMM has an extensive collection of more than 600 Maryland and Virginia oyster tins.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s collections include five historic building original to CBMM’s site including:
- 1885 Eagle House, once the home of a steamboat captain
- three other historic houses (all contributing structures to a National Register District)
- a 1933 cannery warehouse built on pilings along the waterfront, which was constructed from pieces of an earlier steamboat/railroad terminal.
Other historic structures were moved to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, including:
- 1888 Point Lookout fog bell tower
- 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, one of only three surviving Chesapeake Bay cottage-style lighthouses.
- 1880 Tolchester Beach Bandstand
- Mitchell House (c. 1840), a small cottage once owned by free black Peter Mitchell and Eliza Bailey Mitchell, sister to Frederick Douglass
- Fishing Shanty/Ark
See behind the scenes photos and more of our Collections & Library here: