|Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network provides grants benefiting five Southern Maryland museums|
Local Gateways and partners receive nearly $265,000 to develop new interpretive and educational programs
Annapolis, MD (10/03/05) - The National Park Service has awarded five Chesapeake Bay Gateways matching grants to help Southern Maryland museums develop new interpretive and educational programs enhancing visitors’ experiences.
Calvert Marine Museum Society has received $9,500 for the first phase of a major renovation planned for the 15-year-old children’s Discovery Room at the Calvert Marine Museum, located on the Patuxent River in Solomons. A new hands-on touch tank will be developed with distinct sections for fresh water, brackish, and saltwater environments. Each section will showcase a variety of the Bay creatures at home in that environment, and interpretive materials will focus on why and how different species thrive in different ecological conditions. In a unique interpretive touch, the tank’s filtering system will be exposed to public view, revealing how the museum goes about imitating nature and creating habitats that feel like home to the animals on display. The museum previously received a Gateways grant supporting its current exhibit on skates and rays in the Chesapeake Bay.
The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society has received $23,110 to enhance access and interpretation of the Captain Salem Avery House waterfront. Long closed off to visitors, the waterfront on the West River at this historic home in Shady Side, outside Annapolis, will now become accessible to visitors, giving them a richer experience of the life of the Chesapeake waterman who once lived here. Whether arriving by boat or by land, an improved pier will provide access and new interpretive exhibits with an interactive flair. Visitors will be able to try their hand at the centuries-old Chesapeake traditions of tonging and crabbing. They’ll be able to explore the development of a new oyster garden near the river’s shoreline. And they’ll learn about grassroots efforts in communities aiming to help restore the Chesapeake Bay to a fuller measure of environmental health.
Historic St. Mary’s City is a key partner in a major Gateways project designed to help the public explore the Chesapeake of the early 17th century. Through an $111,987 matching grant to Pennsylvania State University, the university, Historic St. Mary’s City, the Smithsonian Institution and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will team up to develop a powerful new web-based attraction focused on the 400th anniversary of Captain John Smith’s "Voyages of Exploration" through the Chesapeake region. Employing the latest photorealistic landscape visualization technology, the project will give computer users in schools, homes, and libraries around the country—and the world—a chance to see vibrant and realistic images of the Chesapeake environment that so impressed Smith on his 1607-09 journeys and then compare them with images of the Bay environment today. This exciting interactive experience will allow visitors to track the progress of Smith’s journeys, learn about the Native American inhabitants he encountered along the way and explore the dramatic changes in the Bay.
St. Mary’s County has received $100,000 to enhance the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Park. This park on the Potomac River in Southern Maryland is home to the oldest lighthouse on the Potomac River and a collection of historic Chesapeake vessels. A new master plan will guide the development of future exhibits and interpretive programs at Piney Point, located 14 miles upriver from the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, new exhibit materials will be developed for the park’s Potomac River Maritime Exhibit Building, and orientation signage will be developed to clarify for visitors the different elements of the park’s campus-like layout.
The Friends of the St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point Lighthouse Museums has received $20,000 to create new interpretive panels at St. Clement’s Island. An important site in the early exploration of Maryland by European Catholics, this island in the Potomac River is a popular destination with recreational boaters and accessible by tour boats departing from the museum on the river’s Maryland shore. Six outdated informational signs on the island will be re-conceived and replaced with interpretive panels telling of the island’s natural history and cultural significance. In addition, three new panels will offer orientation information to boaters, including other nearby Gateways that are accessible by water.
“For the first time, more than 140 sites are linked in a joint effort to communicate the values of the Chesapeake,” said Gateways Network Director Jonathan Doherty. “These grants help Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network sites enhance the public’s ability to learn and enjoy the Bay’s stories, explore its treasures, and ultimately become involved in helping conserve and restore the Bay and its rivers.”
This year, the National Park Service is awarding $1.59 million in Chesapeake Bay Gateways grant funding, matched by an equal amount in partner contributions. A total of 28 grants are being awarded for projects at designated Gateways around the Chesapeake watershed."By connecting the multitude of natural, historic, and cultural sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Gateways Network has enabled visitors to more fully appreciate the importance of the Bay to the entire region," said U.S. Representative Steny H. Hoyer. "The grants that we are announcing today will be used to improve access and enhance the visitor's experience at five of these sites in the Fifth Congressional District."