Biscuits Off the Beaten Path

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A menu from the centennial celebration of The Baltimore Steam Packet Company on May 23, 1940. Collection Number: Ms0015—01365

Easy to Overlook

Well, well, well. I’ve definitely done it this time. You’ll hear from museum professionals over and over about the idea of falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. Something captures our attention, and away we go, sometimes spending hours upon hours digging into the topic du jour. It can be anything that causes this condition. It might be a shipwreck, a painting, a moment in time, an exciting person, etc. Sometimes it’s a side dish on a menu. Yeah, you read that right. Come to think of it, though, a side dish might even be too grand a description.

I recently had cause to photograph some of our ephemera (a fancy word for printed memorabilia) from The Baltimore Steam Packet Company. You may be more familiar with their moniker “Old Bay Line.” One of the items I digitized was the menu for the Baltimore Steam Packet Company’s centennial celebration dinner on May 23, 1940. From the menu, it’s safe to assume that it was a grand affair featuring such sophisticated dishes as seafood cocktail, terrapin a la Chesapeake, golden roast pheasant, Maryland Beaten Biscuits, Cen–   Read more

Form Follows Function: Art of the Decoy

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Duck hunters in blind with decoys, Chesapeake Bay, date unknown. A. Aubrey Bodine, photographer. The Mariners’ Museum MSO466–004-15

The Drifter

I’m just an old has-been decoy
No ribbons I have won.
My sides and head are full of shot
From many a blazing gun.
My home has been by the river,
Just drifting with the tide.
No roof have I had for shelter,
No one place where I could abide.
I’ve rocked to winter’s wild fury,
I’ve scorched in the heat of the sun,
I’ve drifted and drifted and drifted,
For tides never cease to run.
I was picked up by some fool collector
Who put me up here on a shelf.
But my place is out on the river,
Where I can drift all by myself.
I want to go back to the shoreline
Where flying clouds hang thick and low,
And get the touch of the rain drops
And the velvety soft touch of the snow.   Read more

Loaning Objects to Jamestown

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1986-38-3OysterTongs-detail

We are frequently dealing with loans, whether objects are being sent to other places or coming in for an exhibition we are planning.  This summer has been especially busy as we have had several large loans, which are very time-consuming.  This week we brought several large objects to Jamestown that will be used in an upcoming exhibition about the Chesapeake Bay.  This includes two boats, oyster tongs, a culling board and a frame saw.  The end of the tongs and saw can be seen in the pictures below.

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Puget Sound in the News

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Puget Sound ferry Kalakala
Puget Sound ferry Kalakala, from the Harold Huey Collection

Those of us living around the Chesapeake Bay, the largest marine estuary in the United States, are generally not used to thinking about the existence of the second largest marine estuary in the country, Puget Sound.  The Sound is massive and has incredible bio-diversity, and is a fitting Number 2 to our Number 1. While organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and their allies in and out of Congress have been staunch defenders of the Bay for many years, less national attention has been given to Puget Sound.  Today, however, members of Congress from the Washington State delegation are announcing their support for a new initiative to create a National Heritage Area in 13 counties along the south side of the Sound.  See the article in the Washington state newspaper “Olympian” here for details.

The designation of a National Heritage Area was new to me, so I had to look it up. According to the National Park Service’s FAQ on them, “National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.” They differ from many such areas in that they are not publicly owned. They are managed generally by public-private partnerships or organizations whose mission is the stewardship of the area in question. Evidently we have one National Heritage Area in Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District. It is managed by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
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Way Back Wednesdays

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1971, Building of the Gibbs Gallery

This first picture shows construction on the Gibbs Gallery in 1971.  It was built to commemorate the achievements of William Francis Gibbs, probably best know for designing and supervising the building of SS United States.  In 1922, he and his brother, Frederic Herbert Gibbs began the company that would eventually become known as Gibbs & Cox.

Here we have the Junior League of Hampton Roads in 1961 who acted as tour guides for our visitors.  And behind them is our beautiful eagle figurehead from USS Lancaster.   Read more