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CBMM and Maryland Humanities Council present “State of the Oyster” this February and March

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, in conjunction with the Maryland Humanities Council, presents “State of the Oyster” on four consecutive Sundays beginning February 24, and continuing March 3, 10, and 17. The programs are free and open to the public, with advanced registration needed as space is limited.

Photo credit: Heather Davidson

The program takes place in the museum’s Van Lennep Auditorium, where a special art exhibition featuring paintings by renowned Chesapeake artist Marc Castelli and photographs by Heather Davidson will be on display, depicting the daily activities of watermen.

The “State of the Oyster” is the first in an annual series of public programming initiatives entitled “Community Conversations,” that emphasizes public discussion and outreach to new audiences. This program focuses on the status of the oyster fishery and its past, present, and future significance to different Bay communities.

On Sunday, February 24 from 2-4pm, “Oysters and People” focuses on the social history of the oyster production in order to address the long-term relationships Chesapeake Bay inhabitants have with oysters. The panel includes writer Tom Horton, author Christine Keiner, and folklorist James Lane.

On Sunday, March 3, from 4-6pm, “How Did We Get Here?” addresses the various factors contributing to the decline of the Chesapeake oyster populations and features excerpts from the SeaGrant film, “Who Killed Crassostrea virginica,” as well as presentations by researchers and watermen.

On Sunday, March 10, from 2-4pm, “Watermen, Traditions & Perspectives” features a panel of watermen and women presenting their experience-based perspectives on the history and future of Chesapeake oystering, and what it’s like to make a living under today’s difficult circumstances, changes they’ve seen in their lifetimes, and ideas about the future of the industry.

On Sunday, March 17, from 2-4pm, “Possibilities & Consequences” is the final session in the series and presents a panel of watermen, oyster researchers, and oyster farmers that will discuss the future of oysters and cover aquaculture, oyster shell recycling and seed moving, disease research and mitigation, and sanctuaries.

The project is supported by a generous grant from the Maryland Humanities Council and is free and open to the public. Space is limited, with advanced reservations recommended by emailing Helen Van Fleet at [email protected] or calling 410-745-4941. Visit for more information.

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