The Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, offers a variety of family programs and events along southern Maryland’s mid-Atlantic coast. The museum tells the story of Chesapeake Bay through a combination of natural history, pre-history, and maritime heritage. Exhibits include the Paleontology Gallery, where a prehistoric timeline of fossils displays evidence of the creatures that lived at the museum’s location millions of years ago.
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The fossils on display were found at Calvert Cliffs alongside the Atlantic Ocean and include the remains of more recent life such as turtles, sharks, birds, crocodiles, and whales. A highlight of the gallery is a 35-foot-long recreation of the skeletal remains of a Miocene era giant white shark. Guests can interact with trained volunteers as they prepare fossils in the exhibit’s lab.
The Estuarine Biology Gallery displays three different bay habitats, demonstrating the connection between the Chesapeake and its tributaries. The Deep Open Water Tank houses small sharks known as chain dogfish. Sheltering Shallows is an oyster reef habitat that provides homes for shrimp, blennies, seahorses, and butterflyfish. Tidal Tributaries includes turtles, smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish. Additional displays offer an overview of the history of the area, from the Paleo-Indian Period to today, while the Eco-Invaders display presents the impact non-native species have had on local wildlife.
Two Chesapeake Bay wooden boats are operated by the museum. The William B. Tennison is a log built bugeye work boat, while the Dee of St. Mary’s is a sailing skipjack. The Dee is used mainly for educational programming, but both ships are available for public cruises and private charters throughout the summer months. Two lighthouses are operated by the museum. The Drum Point Lighthouse is a cottage-type screw-pile lighthouse. Just three of the original 45 are remaining in the Chesapeake Bay today. The Cove Point Lighthouse offers furnished cottage-style rooms that are available for overnight stays.
An outdoor marsh walk is an easy stroll through the natural salt marsh surrounding the museum. Guests self-navigate the wooden boardwalk over the salt marsh marked with interpretative signage. The popular river otter habitat is located at the marsh walk trailhead. The 8,000-gallon freshwater pool is home to Squeak, the museum’s rescued river otter.
A reference library at the museum, open by appointment, includes books, newsletters, microfilm, and manuscripts relating to the ecological and paleontological history of southern Maryland. Additional maritime-related archives include blueprints and boat plans, commercial ledgers and photographs. A special online archive, the Chestory Visual Archive, is dedicated to Tom Wisner, a Maryland-based artist and environmental educator who used the visual arts, song, and folklore to bring awareness to the importance of conserving Chesapeake Bay.
The Calvert Marine Museum was established in 1970 on Solomon’s Island by the Calvert County Historical Society. Five years later, it moved to its current 9-acre home. At the same time, the Drum Point Lighthouse was renovated and moved to the new site for preservation. In 1979, with the museum and its programming growing, a 17-member board of directors was formed to oversee the museum under its own separate county government department. By 1981, the museum had attained full accreditation by the American Association of Museums, and is one of only 12 Maryland museums to have achieved this status. The reference library at the museum is named for Paul L. Berry. The former Library of Congress librarian spent over 27,000 volunteer hours during his retirement establishing the archives and library at the museum, and built it into one of the mid-Atlantic’s leading maritime research institutions. The museum is supported today by admissions and program fees as well as donations made to the Calvert Marine Museum Society, established in 1984 to support and fund the museum.
Ongoing Programs and Education
The museum offers a variety of programming for families and visitors of all ages. STEM Festival Fridays offer hands-on activities that use principles of sailing to teach children about math and science. Special Needs Nights open the museum to families of children with special needs. Visitors will meet Mr. Bubbles, the museum’s mascot, and a quiet calming room is available. Adult programs include history lectures and author talks. A maritime concert series runs September through April and hosts a variety of local musicians.
Past and Future Exhibits
The Mezzanine Changing Exhibit Gallery is currently host to Sharkabet: A Sea of Sharks from A to Z through December 2017. The family-friendly exhibit features original paintings based on the children’s alphabet book by Roy Troll. Whimsical depictions of both prehistoric and living sharks present each letter of the alphabet.
14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, MD 20688, Phone: 410-326-2042