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Permanent Exhibitions

Donations to the Annual Fund generously support the exhibition, restoration, and education programs of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

The 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.
1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse

The Hooper Strait Lighthouse, now standing on Navy Point, was originally built in 1879 to light the way for boats passing through the shallow, dangerous shoals of Hooper Strait, a thoroughfare for boats bound from the Chesapeake Bay across Tangier Sound to Deal Island or places along the Nanticoke and Wicomico Rivers.

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The At Play on the Bay exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. At Play on the Bay

CBMM’s largest permanent exhibit, At Play on the Bay, explores one of the most dramatic aspects of the Chesapeake Bay’s twentieth-century history— its shift over the last 100 years from a place of work to a place where people now come to play.

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The Small Boat Shed Exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.Small Boat Shed

Displayed in the Small Boat Shed is a variety of working and recreational Chesapeake small watercraft. Several log canoes illustrate the adaptation of this Native American design by the English into a workboat they used for oystering, fishing, and traveling. Here you will also find simple skiffs used for oystering, fishing, and crabbing.

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Maryland Crab Meat Company Exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.Maryland Crab Meat Company Exhibition

Three Smith Island crabbing skiffs appear as if tied to the dock at Crisfield’s Maryland Crabmeat Company, once one of the largest seafood packing houses in the town that called itself the Seafood Capital. Crab picking is detailed work, almost always done by women. From the lockers where they left their belongings to the table where they picked crabmeat into graded containers, the essential contents of a crabmeat plant are all here.

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The Waterfowling Exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.Waterfowling

The Chesapeake Bay is the site of one of the world’s great bird migrations. Each spring and fall, hundreds of thousands of geese, ducks, shorebirds, and songbirds find refuge along the Bay’s marshy shoreline. This abundance has created distinct cultures of market gunners, outlaws, hunters, birdwatchers, and collectors. In the Waterfowling Building you can discover why the Bay attracts flocks of migrating birds and about the sport, industry, and art of waterfowling.

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The Bay History Building at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.Bay History

Discover the maritime history of the Chesapeake. Explore the culture of the Native American inhabitants who named the Bay “Chesapeake.” Learn why the first English explorers in North America placed their settlements along the shores of the Bay, and how this region later became linked with a new nation’s fight for independence, subsequent growth, and its fracture and reunion at the time of the Civil War.

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Waterman's Wharf Exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Waterman’s Wharf

At Waterman’s Wharf, a recreated crabber’s shanty, try your hand at several of the seafood harvesting activities of a Chesapeake Bay waterman. You can watch crabs shed, check an eel or crab pot to see if you’ve caught anything, or tong for oysters. Outside the shanty are the waterman’s boats – the Hooper Island draketail Martha, the Pot Pie skiff, and the Volunteer, a replica Smith Island crab scrape.

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The EC Collier skipjack in the Oystering on the Chesapeake exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Oystering on the Chesapeake

Step onboard an oyster harvesting skipjack, the E.C. Collier, and enter the world of the working watermen on the Chesapeake Bay. Eavesdrop on the captain and crew as the captain shouts orders; the cook talks about lunch; the crew brings in the dredge, sorts the oysters, talks about the captain behind his back.

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The Mitchell House at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Mitchell House

The house was once the home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, who was abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ closest sibling. Two years older than young Fred, Eliza became his friend, playmate, teacher, and co-conspirator in the kitchen and grounds of their masters’ plantations. It was Eliza who taught Douglass the slave’s ploy of pretending ignorance or forgetfulness in order to thwart a master.

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CBMM’s campus offers point of interests throughout, including several interpretive gardens, a living shoreline, historic structures and buildings, and objects from cannons to bells. 

Tolchester Beach Bandstand at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.Historic Structures

Five historic buildings are original to CBMM’s site and are included in the St. Michaels National Register District. In addition, the Tolchester Beach Bandstand and Point Lookout fog bell tower are historic structures on campus.

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Heirloom Garden at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Heirloom Garden

The gardens are highlighted by CBMM’s expanding Heirloom Garden. Maintained by volunteers, the garden features rare, unique and historically accurate plants and herbs. The plantings are extensively researched to reflect the kitchen and medicinal gardens cultivated by Chesapeake people, from Native Americans to Bay residents of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

 


The Living Shoreline at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Living Shoreline

For years, the practice of shoring up an eroding shoreline with a wooden bulkhead or stone rip-rap was widespread on the Bay. Bulkheads’ vertical walls don’t provide the living spaces for plants and animals that natural shorelines do. By constructing this living shoreline – a protective stone sill with sand filled in behind it, planted with bay grasses – we are preventing erosion and creating a place where plants and animals can live.

See more photos of our Living Shoreline in this Flickr album:

Around Campus: Living Shoreline