Maritime History Gallery

Maritime Patuxent: A River and Its People

The maritime heritage of the Southern Maryland region is the story of human interaction with the environment. This is a story driven by geography and patterns of trade and settlement unique in the Chesapeake Bay. It tells of early settlers, individual entrepreneurs, rugged watermen, and skilled craftsmen seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and how that human interaction contributes to the constant changes in the Chesapeake Bay.
What's in the Gallery 
The maritime gallery travels the Patuxent River through time, starting with the “Pawtuxunt” Indians as they lived at the time of contact with Captain John Smith. Learn about the English settlers in the Colonial period that grew tobacco and shipped it from wharves on the Patuxent to British ports, and the African slaves and indentured servants who grew this labor intensive crop. The War of 1812 marked this region, and you can see artifacts from the Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek pulled from the bottom of the river. The gallery offers ship models of the many work boats that plied the waters of the river and the steamboats that linked this area to the urban center at Baltimore. Learn how Solomons Island got its name, the rise and fall of the seafood industry and the critical impacts of World War II as you wander through this river of change. The gallery brings you up to the present with a look at the importance of recreational fishing to this region today and the environmental challenges development has created for this sensitive environment. For a downloadable gallery guide, click here.

Mezzanine Changing Exhibit Gallery

Now open through December 2016
Vanished Steamboats: The Maritime Art of C. Leslie Oursler
Oursler Painting
The steamboat was once a familiar sight on the Chesapeake Bay, providing rural tidewater areas a lifeline to the bustling cities of Baltimore, Norfolk, and Washington, D.C.  Artists like C. Leslie Oursler captured the stately beauty of these vanished icons and his paintings of steamboats are among the finest.

Vanished Steamboats: The Maritime Art of C. Leslie Oursler captures the spirit of a bygone age through his paintings, drawings, and ship models.  This exhibition of selected works from the museum’s collection, supplemented by items from the collection of guest curator Jack Shaum, will be displayed in the Mezzanine Gallery from May 7 through the end of 2016.
Clarence Leslie Oursler (1913-1987) was a largely self-taught Maryland-born artist with a passion for depicting the ships, seascapes, and waterside scenes of his beloved Chesapeake Bay region.  The exhibit explores changes in the artist’s painting techniques from his realistic portrayals at the height of his career to a looser, more impressionistic approach to painting in his later years.
Maritime History Collections
A mission of the Calvert Marine Museum is to collect and preserve materials relating to the maritime and cultural heritage of the region. Although the museum possesses over 6,000 artifacts and 14,000 photographs in its permanent collections, only a small percentage is on display to the public at any given time. The majority of the collections are in storage. Stored items may be rotated into permanent exhibits, used in temporary displays, or loaned to other institutions for exhibits. Artifacts, photographs, and archival materials in the museum’s collections are also used for research and in publications.

If you have an artifact, photograph, or archival item of historical interest which relates to the maritime or cultural history of the region that you would like to donate to the museum, please contact Richard Dodds, Curator of Maritime History, at