A new face for Navy Point

Three ex­hibit build­ings will make way for a safer Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum Two of the build­ings that will be de­mol­ished date from the fledg­ling days of the mu­seum, which be­gan 53 years ago as part of the Tal­bot County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By CHRIS POLK cpolk@star­dem.com

ST. MICHAELS — Three pub­lic ex­hibit build­ings at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum are slated to be de­mol­ished to make way for a higher qual­ity, cli­mate-con­trolled, more se­cure fa­cil­ity that will be el­e­vated above the town grade and flood­plain to pro­tect against storm surges on Navy Point.

The de­mo­li­tion ten­ta­tively will oc­cur in early 2019 and will be the first part of Phase 1 in a Master Plan de­vel­oped to ad­dress some of the mu­seum’s most press­ing prob­lems.

“The real rea­son for this is the ma­jor in­crease we have had with our pro­gram­ming, with our ca­pa­bil­i­ties that we have had over the last three to four years,” said CBMM Pres­i­dent Kris­ten Green­away.

Green­away made a pre­sen­ta­tion of Phase 1 of the mu­seum’s Master Plan to the St. Michaels town com­mis­sion­ers Wed­nes­day evening, May 9.

Dur­ing the past year, mu­seum of­fi­cials, vol­un­teers and the pub­lic have teamed with the ar­chi­tec­tural firm Ann Beha Ar­chi­tects of Bos­ton, which was cho­sen through com­pet­i­tive bid­ding, to de­velop a Master Plan with sev­eral phases that will oc­cur over seven or eightyears.

“We have ba­si­cally run out of space at the mu­seum,” Green­away said.

Two of the build­ings that will be de­mol­ished date from the fledg­ling days of the mu­seum, which be­gan 53 years ago as part of the Tal­bot County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

The “Water­fowl­ing on the Ch­e­sa­peake” build­ing was built in 1975, and the “Bay of the Ch­e­sa­peake” build­ing was built in 1980, both un­der the di­rec­tion of then-mu­seum di­rec­tor R.J. Holt.

The third build­ing is the vis­i­tors en­trance build­ing or gate, which is rem­i­nis­cent of a large pi­lot house from a Ch­e­sa­peake buy boat, lo­cated in the mu­seum’s court­yard, where vis­i­tors pay their fee to en­ter the mu­seum grounds and get in­for­ma­tion.

“These three build­ings are the big­gest bane that we have at the mo­ment,” Green­away said.

She said the mu­seum’s chief cu­ra­tor, Pete Lesher, had made the com­ment that “the best ren­o­va­tion we could do for that is a bull­dozer,” par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to the Water­fowl­ing build­ing.

Lesher also is the chair­man of the St. Michaels His­toric District Com­mis­sion and a mem­ber of the Eas­ton Town Coun­cil.

“All these three build­ings you can pretty much poke your fin­ger or a pen­cil through,” Green­away said. “They are rot­ting out.”

In those early days of the mu­seum, a shoe-string bud­get ruled the day, and any way to cut costs was ap­plied in ev­ery as­pect of run­ning the fledg­ling in­sti­tu­tion.

“They were built very, very cheaply,” Green­away said. “They have well past their ‘sell by’ date.”

The build­ings also are meant to house in­valu­able col­lec­tions, Green­away said, and their de­cayed state com­bined with the fact that they are well within strik­ing dis­tance of a storm surge makes it im­per­a­tive that some­thing be done.

The new build­ing that will re­place them will be a long, two-story struc­ture with fea­tures that solve some press­ing prob­lems and add more ac­cess for the pub­lic, par­tic­u­larly in the mu­seum’s role as an ed­u­ca­tional and re­search in­sti­tu­tion.

Down­stairs, there are two ex­hibit halls planned, each about 2,500 square feet. One will house tem­po­rary and ro­tat­ing ex­hibits, and the other will be a per­ma­nent water­fowl­ing ex­hibit that houses the mu­seum’s ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of de­coys and hunt­ing mem­o­ra­bilia.

“This will be the best wa­ter­fowl ex­hi­bi­tion in the world,” Green­away said, adding that the vis­i­tor’s ex­pe­ri­ence will be en­hanced by views of the Miles River and the large flocks of ducks and geese that feed in Fogg’s Cove dur­ing the win­ter months.

Up­stairs, a se­cure, cli­mate­con­trolled fa­cil­ity will house the mu­seum’s archival col­lec­tions and li­brar, and, for the first time, will pro­vide a com­fort­able read­ing room for stu­dents and re­searchers who come to the mu­seum to ac­cess rare ma­te­ri­als.

“Any­body will be able to come into that room and re­quest in­for­ma­tion,” Green­away said. “Any of the au­dio record­ings that we have — your grand­mother, your grand­par­ents, your par­ents who were water­men or worked or played on the bay, you are writ­ing an ar­ti­cle for your lo­cal his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety, your own fam­ily tree, school chil­dren work­ing on school projects.”

“It will be pub­lic, ac­ces­si­ble space for that read­ing room,” she said.

COURTESY OF JJ AERIAL PRO­DUC­TIONS

An aerial view of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum’s Navy Point from Novem­ber 2016. The mu­seum has an­nounced the com­ple­tion of a new Master Plan, which will cre­ate in­creased space for CBMM’s core mu­seum of­fer­ings, in­clud­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, ed­u­ca­tion and ship­yard.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Phase I of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum’s Master Plan calls for the con­struc­tion of a new build­ing for chang­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, a long-term water­fowl­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, CBMM’s li­brary and ar­chives and land­scap­ing up­grades on Navy Point. The new fa­cil­ity will re­place CBMM’s cur­rent Bay His­tory and Water­fowl­ing ex­hi­bi­tion build­ings, with the build­ings’ ar­ti­facts be­ing re­lo­cated, and de­mo­li­tion of the build­ings an­tic­i­pated to be­gin in spring 2019. With full fund­ing, the new li­brary and ex­hi­bi­tion build­ing is an­tic­i­pated to open in 2020.

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