If you’re looking for a fun, educational way to spend a day, visit the Calvert Marine Museum in Calvert County. Founded in 1970, the museum hosts exhibits and activities for children and adults of all ages. For this week’s Friday Focus, we talked with the Museum’s Marketing and Public Relations coordinator, Traci Cimini, who shared some of her favorite moments and gave us a sneak preview of the upcoming Patuxent River Appreciation Days event.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A. The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM), located in Solomons, is a regional museum with heavy visitation from Maryland, Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Delmarva Peninsula on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. A sampling of our attendance in 2011 showed visitors from 50 states and 34 foreign countries. We enjoy an average annual visitation of over 75,000 guests from around the world.
At the waterfront Calvert Marine Museum, see where the local maritime and environmental history of Southern Maryland comes to life. Explore two of Maryland’s original lighthouses; come touch twenty million year-old fossils taken from Calvert Cliffs; or take a ride aboard the Wm. B. Tennison, a 110 year-old log-built bugeye. See skates and rays swim, touch a horseshoe crab or diamondback terrapin and watch our river otter at play. Stroll the marsh walk and spy water snakes, great blue heron, osprey and hermit crabs in their natural habitat. Shop in the Museum Store for gifts that will delight visitors of all ages, and become a museum member and get a discount every day!
Education is a primary focus for the museum and we provide programs for all ages, from toddlers to seniors. We offer school programs, offsite outreach, distance learning, summer camps and formal/informal programming around our three themes: regional paleontology, estuarine life of the tidal Patuxent River and adjacent Chesapeake Bay and the maritime history of these waters. We are a research museum, renowned for documented discoveries in Miocene paleontology and publications on local history based on original research.
The museum has remained a cultural anchor in the community for 45 years, and is assisted in its governance by a voluntary board of 15 community leaders approved and appointed by the Calvert County Commissioners. CMM is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums, earning reaccreditation for the third time in 2009.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: Seeing the wonder on a child’s face as they touch a diamondback terrapin; watching a World War II vet in our maritime exhibit talk about the amphibious training base where he was stationed in 1942 as a young man; taking teenagers who have lived here all their lives but never been out on the water out in our skipjack, the Dee of St. Mary’s; hearing a six year-old tell his mom, “This is the best place in the world!”
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: There is so much we want to do to reach our community and to share the riches of the Calvert Marine Museum. Juggling staff time, limited space and shrinking budgets to accomplish everything will always be a challenge.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: Patuxent River Appreciation Days (PRAD) is almost here! The longest running festival in Southern Maryland, PRAD is in its 38th year, and always takes place Columbus Day weekend: October 10 and 11 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The event is sponsored by the Calvert County Commissioners. Admission is free and complimentary parking is available.
Activities include an arts and craft show with over fifty artists, local food vendors and two music stages hosting live performances. Children can build their own toy boats, ride a pony and feed a goat. The whole family can enjoy free cruises aboard the Wm. B. Tennison and Dee of St. Mary’s, or take a self-propelled ride in the boat basin in a canoe or our newly-christened paddle boat.
Over 40 nonprofit groups will be on hand with exhibits, demonstrations, displays and educational activities about green products, recycling, oyster farming, native plants, wildlife, restoration efforts, live animals and more.
On Saturday, local wineries offer wine tastings, and a wonderful array of fall produce, potted mums, honey and homemade jellies/jams and lavender products will be available for sale.
Visit the Museum Store book fair tent on both days to visit local adult and children’s authors, including Janie Suss, Elaine Allen, Kelli Nash, Peter Vogt, Eugene Meyer, Richard LaMotte, Jennifer Keats Curtis and more, made possible by Schiffer Publishing. This is a perfect opportunity to find a new favorite book and/or personalize a book for a special holiday gift.
Not to be missed on Sunday is the annual PRAD Parade with a one mile route along Solomons Island Road, beginning at 2:00 p.m.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: You can get involved by becoming a member. As a member, you are eligible to volunteer, or join one of our clubs. This is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, learn new things and be a part of a great volunteer family as you serve your local community. For over 40 years, volunteers have been an integral part of the museum. From its founding in 1970 by volunteers, to the “unpaid” staff of today, this institution could not function without them. With over 400 volunteers, CMM is able to offer many educational and engaging programs to our visitors.