The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s newest waterfowling exhibition will travel to Easton, Md.’s, annual Waterfowl Festival on Nov. 8-10, 2019, before returning to CBMM’s Waterfowling Building through March 8, 2020. Festival ticket holders can see the exhibition at Easton High School.
What makes a decoy “collectible”? How do you distinguish a Susquehanna Flats duck from a Chincoteague carvers’ work? Buying and selling carved and painted wooden waterfowl—once used simply as tools for hunting—evolved from a simple interest in and admiration for folk art to a distinct collecting field with an established market. Deconstructing Decoys: The Culture of Collecting explores varying perspectives about decoys as art and will help guests understand how collectors “read” a decoy to determine its maker, its history, and its significance. Today, the number of casual collectors and savvy connoisseurs who attend swaps, shows, and sales may very well exceed the number of gunners who venture into blinds on icy winter mornings, transforming the role of waterfowling within Chesapeake Bay culture.
“Visitors might be surprised to learn that valuing decoys for their craftsmanship and rarity, rather than just their practical application, is not a new practice,” said Associate Curator of Collections Jenifer Dolde, who curated the exhibition. “The first collectors began accumulating waterfowl carvings as ‘folk art’ even as gunners were still shooting over them. The evolution from working decoy to decorative decoy certainly was not linear.”
Deconstructing Decoys: The Culture of Collecting is generously sponsored by Judy and Henry Stansbury, and the world’s leading decoy auction firm, Guyette & Deeter. Upon its return to CBMM, entry to the exhibition is free for CBMM members or with general admission.