Washington, D.C.’s deep influence on the Potomac River’s unique waterfowling tools, traditions, and culture will be explored in a new exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., opening to the public on Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Potomac Waterfowling: Gunning the Nation’s River follows the harvesting history from 18th century statesmen like George Washington—who wrote about memorable hunts of the Potomac’s stunning numbers of waterfowl—to the 20th century, when the combination of Washington, D.C.’s growing economy and the rich Potomac environment spurred both commercial and sport markets for waterfowl.
Through decoys, photographs, period objects, and historic documents, Potomac Waterfowling demonstrates Washington, D.C.’s influences on the waterfowling culture of the Potomac—especially the decoys carved for the region’s gunning clubs. Often commissioned from craftsmen who hailed from far corners of the Chesapeake region, the canvasback rigs displayed a remarkable diversity of form. Whether the work of James “Corb” Reed, whose Chincoteague roots are evident in his stunning naturalistic decoys, to James E. Baines, who carved decoys for gunning on the Potomac that were dead ringers for Upper Bay birds, the melting pot quality of Washington D.C. clearly extended to its waterfowling culture in creative ways.
“The Potomac River decoy style is unlike anywhere else—it encompasses techniques and details found all over the Chesapeake Bay,” said CBMM Director of Education and Associate Curator Kate Livie, curator of the exhibition. “Decoy carvers were bringing the traditional decoy forms from their hometowns to the Potomac region when they moved to D.C. for work. So, you see it all—from classic Upper Bay birds to Chincoteague stools—all created to harvest the Potomac’s enormous waterfowl population.”
Potomac Waterfowling: Gunning the Nation’s River is generously sponsored by Judy and Henry Stansbury, and the world’s leading decoy auction firm, Guyette & Deeter. Entry to the exhibition is free for CBMM members or with general admission. Potomac Waterfowling will travel to the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Md.November 10-12, 2017, and return to CBMM’s Waterfowling Building through March 2018.
CBMM and East Coast Decoy Collectors Association members will be invited to a private exhibition preview reception on the evening of Friday, April 7, with light refreshments served. The reception is free for CBMM and ECDCA members, with space limited and registration needed by contacting Nancy Wells at email@example.com or 410-745-4991 by April 1.
Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Serving more than 77,000 guests each year, CBMM’s campus includes a floating fleet of historic boats and 12 exhibition buildings, situated in a park-like, waterfront setting along the Miles River and St Michaels harbor. Charitable gifts to CBMM’s annual fund help support the non-profit’s exhibition, education, and restoration programs, with online giving and more information at cbmm.org/donate.
From now through 2018, CBMM’s guests can experience the log-hull restoration of the 1889 bugeye, Edna E. Lockwood, with more information at ednalockwood.org.