Marine museum closed for winter renovation work
Project aim is to revitalize, enhance Solomons facility
The Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons has closed temporarily to complete renovations on the mezzanine level of its exhibition hall with the goal of revitalizing the museum and expanding educational spaces.
The closure began yesterday, Jan. 1. While the project is not expected to be completed until May, it is anticipated the museum will reopen in March to visitors.
“I am very excited about finally getting proper spaces for our education department. This is the largest department at the museum, and the one that produces most of the programming. With this renovation, they will have space specially designed for programming, as well as adequate office and storage space,” Calvert Marine Museum Director Sherrod Sturrock said in a release, adding that the effort will help the museum “continue to offer exceptional programming” to visitors.
The construction project is the second part of a two-phase plan that included the renovation of the Harms Gallery and lobby in 2014.
Those earlier efforts in 2014 to renovate the floor for previously approved classroom, education and office space projects were put on hold due to lack of funds.
However, the demand for museum programs increased significantly and the decision was made to move forward with the project. Museum Deputy Director Jeffrey Murray said museum attendance for 2017 was 84,500.
Slated improvements for the second phase this winter in- clude the creation of two large classrooms for educational programming, a new unisex bathroom, improved handicap access to the exhibit area and expanded work space for education staff, according to the release.
Funding allocated for the project in Calvert County’s capital improvement plan for fiscal 2020 and 2022 totals $710,000. In 2017, the museum requested to collapse the funding schedule to place everything into fiscal 2019.
Colimore Architectural Firm of Baltimore was selected to do the architectural and engineering design and W.M. Davis of Leonardtown was selected as the general contractor.
The museum, established in 1970 as the Maritime Museum, was renovated and moved to Old Solomons School in 1975. The Calvert County Historical Society turned ownership over to Calvert County government a short while after. In 1989, the museum opened its current exhibition building.
In 2008, the Calvert County commissioners approved the second master plan for the museum. In 2017, the commissioners awarded a nearly $675,000 contract for the renovation of the roofing system for the museum’s exhibition building. The roofing project is complete, according to Murray.
The museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. Earlier this year, the museum received the designation as Maryland’s Paleontology Research and Collections Center by the Maryland General Assembly.
During the three-month closure, the majority of programming will be suspended and the museum store will be closed. However, the Patuxent Small Craft Guild will continue to operate, and CHESPAX field trips, an environmental education program for Calvert public schools, will continue to take place offsite in the interim.
Murray said “the otters, and all of our other animals, will be well cared for during the renovation period. The area of the building where renovation work is being completed is relatively far away from the otters, and they will continue to stay in their current living environs and be cared for daily by a trained and qualified aquarist.”
Animals which reside near the front door or lobby area of the building will be relocated into other living quarters in estuarine biology department near the rear of the building, where they will also receive daily care and feeding from one of three aquarists.
The museum encourages members and nonmembers alike to stay connected online through social media or at the museum’s website at calvertmarinemuseum.com.