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Special Exhibitions

Current Special Exhibitions

Where Land and Water Meet: The Chesapeake Bay Photography of David W. Harp

Sept. 25, 2020 – Sept. 20, 2021

Forty years of images by documentary photographer David W. Harp will be on display this fall at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in a new exhibition titled Where Land and Water Meet: The Chesapeake Bay Photography of David W. Harp. Harp’s inspiration comes from exploring literal and figurative edges: shorelines, communities, habitats, and traditional worklife where culture and nature connect, creating the essence of what defines the Chesapeake.

This exhibition is presented thanks to the generous contributions of Diamond Sponsor Caroline Gabel; Platinum Sponsors Sandy & Omer Brown and H. Turney McKnight; Gold Sponsors Emma & Cullen Bailine and Finn & Jackson Falk, Bob Baugh, Meta & William Boyd, David M. Brown, Dorie & Jeff McGuiness, and The Bay Journal; Silver Sponsors Posey & Bill Boicourt and Susan Russell & William Thompson; and Bronze Sponsors Marty & Al Sikes.

Adze to Whittling Knife: Chesapeake Boatbuilders as Decoy Carvers

Aug. 14, 2020 – closing TBA

Chesapeake Bay-area craftsmen produced boats—and decoys—that were regionally distinctive. Boatbuilding was often a full-time occupation, and decoy carving was more typically a sideline. A few boatbuilders, used the same carpentry skills to produce both boats and decoys. From the prolific decoy carvers of the Susquehanna Flats at the northern end of the Bay, to carvers whose production was much more limited, some of the Chesapeake’s most shapely decoys came from the hands of carvers who made their principal living building watercraft for fishermen, hunters, or boaters.

Island Life: Changing Cultures, Changing Shorelines

Virtual Exhibition opened May 18, 2020

Works by photographer Jay Fleming reveal how the changing environment is affecting the cultures and shorelines of inhabited and formerly inhabited offshore islands in the Chesapeake.


Lines of the Floating Fleet

From its opening in 1965, CBMM has exhibited historic Chesapeake Bay watercraft in their original context—afloat. These vessels have been carefully selected and preserved for their design and construction, for the work they were originally built to do, and for the stories of people whose lives were shaped by these boats. Many of the stories about these boats have been uncovered through the preservation and operation of these boats, as well as through recorded oral interviews, documents, and historic photographs.

An innovative exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum brings these perspectives and stories to visitors by grouping the boats and making them accessible through an audio tour.

Upcoming Special Exhibitions

18th National Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists

Opening TBA

On the heels of the American Society of Marine Artists’ 40th anniversary, the ASMA biennial exhibition is a juried selection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, scrimshaw, and hand-pulled prints submitted by members. The ASMA 18th National Exhibition will include work by many of the most prominent contemporary marine artists working in the nation today. Click here for more on ASMA.

Past Special Exhibitions

Admiral Cockburn Burning & Plundering Havre de Grace. William Charles, c. 1813, aquatint. Courtesy of Maryland Historical Society, Hambleton Print Collection.Navigating Freedom: The War of 1812 on the Chesapeake

Explore the impact of the War of 1812 on the people of the Chesapeake, black and white Americans, militiamen, Baltimore merchants, and British sailors who found opportunity and misfortune amid the conflict. This online exhibition features stories, artwork, and rare relics of the period.


Two boys ca. 1910 with swan hunted in the Easton, MD area, from the collection of C. John Sullivan. Chesapeake Swan Song:
From Commodity to Conservation

April 11, 2015 – April 3, 2016

The story of the evolving relationship between the people and swans of the Chesapeake Bay will be told through a curated collection of decoys, photographs, and artifacts in this new exhibition.The exhibition is generously sponsored by Guyette & Deeter—the world’s leading decoy auction firm—Judy and Henry Stansbury, and Gourmet by the Bay in St. Michaels, MD

CBMM_HollydayExhibition_February2016Maritime Talbot County: Photographs by H. Robins Hollyday

February 2016 – October 2016

Photographer H. Robins “Bob” Hollyday (1898-1981) documented Eastern Shore people and places from land, water, and air through much of the 20th century. Beginning in 1929, Hollyday teamed with Talbot County’s most well-known aviator, Malcolm Hathaway, to fly the skies over the county. Hollyday would hang out of the open cockpit plane with a large, cumbersome camera to take photographs. Hollyday photographed properties from the air for the area’s realtors, captured events for local business and society, and documented the region’s culture. His photographs reflect a distinct sense of place, and in Talbot County, which claims 600 miles of shoreline, that character is closely intertwined with the water. In these images, Hollyday documented the area’s waterborne transportation and recreation, waterside industry, and fisheries.Robins Hollyday’s extensive photograph collection is preserved by the Talbot Historical Society in Easton, Maryland, which created this exhibition.

CBMM_Trumpy_Rumak_III_Marion_ WarrenA Single Goal: The Art of Trumpy Yacht Building

August 6, 2016 – November 27, 2016

An exhibition tracing the design and construction of the distinctive Trumpy wooden yachts opens August 6 and focuses its attention from 1909 through 1973, when the Trumpy Yacht Yard in Annapolis, Md. produced its last boat. Named after John Trumpy Sr., the famous Naval architect and designer who crafted these regal vessels, Trumpy boats are legendary for their display of affluence, craftsmanship, and beautiful design.

A Single Goal—The Art of Trumpy Yacht Building at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is made possible by the generous support of Dr. Jacob Deegan, Maryland State Arts Council, and the Talbot County Arts Council, with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County, and the Towns of Easton, Oxford and St Michaels.

Using models, paintings, historic photographs, artifacts such as wooden patterns and vintage signage and original drawings by John Trumpy, Sr., A Single Goal explores the detailed process of wooden boat building as an art form and highlights these distinctive yachts and their furnishings and finishings.

Read a September 2016 TripAdvisor review about the Trumpy exhibition here.

“CBMM_AmmoCamoCalls.jpg”Chesapeake Ammo, Camo and Calls

April 2016 – March 2017

The transformation of Chesapeake waterfowling gear, tools, and clothing over the last 100 years will be explored through artifacts, advertising ephemera, and photographs in a new exhibition. Chesapeake Ammo, Camo and Calls explores the fact that waterfowling is not just about decoys. A gunner needs a whole field kit of gear and tools-from clothing to guns, ammunition to duck and goose calls-to have a successful day in the field. Over the last 100 years, these waterfowling essentials have transformed from simple to sophisticated, reflecting innovation in firearm technology, camouflage development, and the ongoing search for an ever-more-persuasive call. Though today’s gear is more advanced in form, the function remains the same-to mimic the Chesapeake marshes, call in waterfowl on the wing, and finally get the perfect shot.Chesapeake Ammo, Camo and Calls is generously sponsored by Judy and Henry Stansbury, and the world’s leading decoy auction firm, Guyette & Deeter.

Eagle, wooden carving, from unknown tugboat, brought to St. Michaels by Robert Dryden, owner of Eagle House, and placed on the roof (c. 1908), where it remained for 57 years. The eagle was restored in 1965. Collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD, 1966-78-1. A Broad Reach: 50 Years of Collecting

May 23, 2015 – March 26, 2017

With artifacts ranging from gilded eagles to a sailmaker’s sewing machine, a log-built bugeye to an intimate scene of crabpickers, A Broad Reach: 50 Years of Collecting is a new major exhibition of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum that opened on Saturday, May 23, 2015, when the museum hosted a festival to kick off its year-long 50th anniversary celebration with Party on the Point: Celebrating 50 Years on the Bay.

 Log Canoe Racing: Photographs by Morris Ellison

June 16, 2017 – September 25, 2017

This exhibition displays the works of local photographer Morris Ellison, as he showcases the Chesapeake Bay’s iconic sailing log canoes. Ellison prints some of his canoe photos in sepia tone, giving them the feel of an old photograph, which he feels conveys a timeless quality to the classic log canoes.

ASMA_17thNational_Kramer17th National Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists

December 10, 2016 – April 2, 2017

The 17th National Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists is coming to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with the exhibition jointly hosted at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels and the Academy Art Museum in Easton. The exhibition opens to the public at both venues on December 10, 2016, and continues through April 2, 2017, with private donor preview receptions scheduled for December 8 at CBMM and December 9 at AAM.

Snapshots to Selfies exhibition photo submission linkSnapshots to Selfies: 50 Years of Chesapeake Summers

In 2016, CBMM is opening an exhibition all about you! Your personal photos and family memories from the last 50 summers on the Bay—fishing, sailing, lounging on the beach, catching crabs—will be displayed for the public to enjoy as part of a new exhibition, Snapshots to Selfies: 50 Years of Chesapeake Summers.


Potomac Waterfowling: Gunning the Nation’s River

April 8, 2017 – March 2018

Potomac Waterfowling: Gunning the Nation’s River follows the harvesting history from 18th century statesmen like George Washington—who wrote about memorable hunts of the Potomac’s stunning numbers of waterfowl—to the 20th century, when the combination of Washington, D.C.’s growing economy and the rich Potomac environment spurred both commercial and sport markets for waterfowl.

Robert de Gast IcebreakerRobert de Gast’s Chesapeake

May 12, 2017 – April 8, 2018

Robert de Gast’s photographs of the late 1960’s and 70’s documented the Chesapeake’s oystering industry, shorelines, and lighthouses at a watershed moment, both for the Bay and for photography. Deftly incorporating modern abstract elements into images that conveyed grit, humor, and atmosphere, de Gast masterfully represented the last days of the Chesapeake’s maritime golden age. This exhibition features masterpieces selected from more than 10,000 images in CBMM’s de Gast collections.

Robert de Gast’s Chesapeake is made possible through the generous support of Mr. & Mrs. Norman H. Plummer, Anne & Frank Mickey, Maryland State Arts Council, Ashton Design, and Elizabeth C. Moose.

Bob Grieser’s Lens on the Chesapeake

October 13, 2017 – June 3, 2018

Bob Grieser (1946 – 2017) was a photojournalist who worked for the Indianapolis Star, Washington Star, Los Angeles Times, and Chesapeake Bay Magazine. He covered yacht racing events and sailing in waters around the globe including the America’s Cup, Louis Vuitton Cup, and Heineken Regatta. In 1990, Grieser published Chesapeake Bay, an art book featuring his black-and-white photography. An exhibition entitled Capturing the Spirit of the Chesapeake Bay, drawn in part from the photographs in his book, toured to museums from St. Michaels to San Diego in the following years. In 2004, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum commissioned Grieser to photograph scenes from around the region for its exhibition At Play on the Bay. This exhibition features 15 photographs selected from Grieser’s earlier exhibition, Capturing the Spirit.

CBMM_BlessingoftheFleet_EdnaLockwood.jpgEdna Lockwood Log-Hull Restoration

March 2016 – Relaunches October 27, 2018 at OysterFest

CBMM shipwrights and apprentices are restoring CBMM’s queen of the fleet and National Historic Landmark Edna Lockwood by replacing her nine-log hull, in adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation. All work takes place in full public view at CBMM’s waterfront campus in St. Michaels, Md., now through 2018.

Kent’s Carvers and Clubs: Guides, Gunners and Co-Ops

April 14, 2018 – March 31, 2019

The exhibition shares the stories of Maryland’s Kent County carvers and hunting clubs through a collection of decoys, oral histories, historic photographs, and other artifacts.

Cradled by the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay, Kent County’s rich environment has fostered a long tradition of waterfowl guiding, gunning clubs, and decoy carving. Carvers like John Glenn, the Uries, and Charlie Joiner created unique rigs that were commissioned and gunned over on secluded Kent County coves teeming with waterfowl. Since the late 1800’s, the superior shooting of the county’s waterfront estates attracted well-heeled sportsmen to exclusive gunning clubs, where skilled local guides provided a great day’s take. Through objects, images, and selected decoys, Guides, Gunning Clubs and Co-Ops explores Kent County’s enduring waterfowling culture—one that continues to flourish in the fields, necks and islands of the deeply-rural region.

VanKeulen MapExploring the Chesapeake: Mapping the Bay

May 19, 2018 – March 17, 2019

Exploring the Chesapeake: Mapping the Bay looks at the different ways the Chesapeake Bay has been portrayed over time through mapping and charting, beginning with European exploration in the 16th century and continuing with the growth of settlement in the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. Scientific surveying methods brought improved accuracy in the 19th century, and special purpose maps (railroad maps, tourist guides) proliferated in the 20th century. More recent decades have introduced satellite imagery, geographic information systems, and Google maps, which continue to change how we view and understand this special region. The exhibition will present changes in maps over time as an expression of what people were seeking in the Chesapeake: natural resources, transportation, and more. This exhibition is generously sponsored by Ellen and Norman Plummer, the Maryland State Arts Council, and is funded in part by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County, and the Towns of Easton, Oxford and St Michaels.

Beach Finds of the Chesapeake

April 6, 2019–June 29, 2019

Beach Finds of the Chesapeake explores a sampling of the different types of finds discovered by those who seek to preserve the history of our region by collecting fragments of its past. From shark teeth and other 20-million-year-old Miocene-era fossils, through Victorian doll parts and marbles, to modern plastic toys and marine debris found today, the Chesapeake Bay holds history, treasures and trash alike to be discovered by beachcombers who search its disappearing shorelines.

The exhibition is organized by the Sea Glass Center, a non-profit organization preserving and presenting the historical, artistic, and cultural significance of sea glass through education. The special exhibition kicks off the April 6 & 7 Eastern Shore Sea Glass & Coastal Arts Festival, which has been moved this year from St. Michaels’ Mill district to CBMM’s waterfront campus. (Photo: Mary T. McCarthy)

Deconstructing Decoys: The Culture of Collecting

April 13, 2019–March 8, 2020

What makes a decoy “collectible”? How do you distinguish a Susquehanna Flats duck from a Chincoteague carvers’ work? Buying and selling carved and painted wooden waterfowl—once used simply as tools for hunting—evolved from a simple interest in and admiration for folk art to a distinct collecting field with an established market. Deconstructing Decoys will explore varying perspectives about decoys as art and will help guests understand how collectors “read” a decoy to determine its maker, its history, and its significance. Today, the number of casual collectors and savvy connoisseurs who attend swaps, shows, and sales may very well exceed the number of gunners who venture into blinds on icy winter mornings, transforming the role of waterfowling within Chesapeake Bay culture.

On Land and On Sea: A Century of Women in the Rosenfeld Collection

May 18, 2019–April 5, 2020

On Land and On Sea: A Century of Women in the Rosenfeld Collection features the work of Morris and Stanley Rosenfeld who created the world’s largest and most significant collection of maritime photography with more than 1 million images that are owned and curated by Mystic Seaport. The Rosenfelds’ iconic images are recognizable to the general public and treasured by boating enthusiasts. The exhibition includes images selected by Margaret L. Andersen Rosenfeld, the daughter-in-law of Stanley Rosenfeld, a recognized academic and University of Delaware Sociology professor Emeritus who currently resides in Oxford, Md. Drawing upon her scholarship, On Land and On Sea reveals the social and historical context of women over the better part of the 20th century through the lens of Rosenfeld photos.