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Steamboat Era Museum opens for season

The Steamboat Era Museum, 156 King Carter Drive, Irvington, will open Friday, April 20, for the 2018 season.

The museum’s mission is to collect and preserve artifacts of the Steamboat Era on the Chesapeake Bay, reported director Barbara Brecher. Through the design of dynamic exhibits and educational programs, the museum illustrates and interprets the important economic and lifestyle changes Steamboats brought to Virginia and Maryland communities on the bay from 1813-1937.

Exhibits include ship models, the story of Hansford Bayton, an African-American steamboat owner/captain, a film by James Wharton showing the process of oystering in 1929, a diorama of a shipbuilding yard oral histories of residents of the area and more.

Spring hours through June 9 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Summer hours June 12 through September 1 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for ages 11 and younger and active military.

Potomac Pilothouse

This is a very exciting year for the museum as it prepares for the installation of the Potomac Pilothouse in the fall, said Brecher.

The exhibition hall has undergone a major change. Walls and exhibit structures have been removed to make space for the pilothouse and work has begun on new exhibits.

A four-foot-tall enclosure indicates the space where the pilothouse will sit. An 11-foot-tall sign in front of the enclosure indicates the height of the wheelhouse. This structure gives visitors a sense of the size of the pilothouse and how it will fit into the museum. Once installed, visitors will be able to walk throughout the pilothouse and view the crew and captain’s quarters as well as the wheelhouse.

Remaining exhibits from the 2017 season have been temporarily mounted in the museum, she said. Visitors will receive a written self-guided tour of the exhibits and docents will be available for tours and to answer questions.

New exhibits to complement the pilothouse are in the design phase and will be installed in 2019, continued Brecher. Museum staff and volunteers are working hard to install the pilothouse and new exhibits.

“The museum is messy—but still very informative and fun,” said Brecher. “We hope visitors will pardon the dust as preparations are made for the fall arrival of the Potomac pilothouse!”

Youth activities

The museum will offer special children’s tours from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Fridays June 22 through August 12. Tours are open to ages 4 and older with an adult.

A costumed docent will offer a guided tour and participants will make a steamboat. The fee is $5 per child. To reserve a space, call the museum, 438-6888.

A new children’s activity, Boot Camp!, will be offered for ages 10 and older. Campers will learn about the importance of watermen and oysters to the area. Participants will paint small ceramic watermen’s boots, like the larger boots of the Watermen’s Way project.

The camp will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, June 30, July 21 and August 12. The fee is $15, including materials. Call the museum to reserve a space.

The museum relies on volunteers to guide visitors through the exhibits. To volunteer, contact Candee Pevahouse at 438-6888 or cpevahouse@steamboateramuseum.org.

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