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At Play on the Bay

A swimmer clowning around for the camera on Navy Point in St. Michaels, Maryland, circa 1920. Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Collection.
A swimmer clowning around for the camera on Navy Point in St. Michaels, Maryland, circa 1920. Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Collection.

The Museum’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. Today millions of men, women, and children visit the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy boating, fishing, and on-shore activities. Learn about the Bay’s unique recreational story through its restored boats, as well as over 400 historical artifacts, photographs, and memorable video footage.

Explore an early twentieth-century canoe campsite, a boathouse and 30-foot Owens cruiser, a 1950s tackle shop, and a yacht club lounge. The exhibit chronicles historical moments, from the early tourists who traveled to the region, to the role of organized sailboat racing and cruising in community development, to the mass production and marketing of motorboats, to the founding of African American resorts and the widening access to recreation. A classic mahogany motor yacht, the 1926 Mathews-built cruiser Isabel is moored alongside the exhibit building in the summer, and her story is told inside the exhibit.

The Museum’s two-story exhibition building, located on Navy Point’s waterfront, offers visitors extensive views of the surrounding landscape, and a rooftop deck offering new perspectives of the Miles River, St. Michaels Harbor, and Fogg’s Cove.