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Out with the Old and In with the New

Calvert Marine Museum closing for three months of renovation

Calvert Marine Museum’s otter mascot is ready to start renovations.

Now’s the time to pack up family and holiday visitors for a trip to Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons. Come January 1, the family-friendly, 43-year-old museum closes for three months for renovation. When it opens again, it won’t be the old familiar place.
    For starters, you’ll have to find the front door as the redesigned museum will have a new orientation. Expect a new store, too, says deputy director Sherrod Sturrock. “A volunteer left us a legacy for just that purpose, and if we can match it we can do the whole job this winter.”
    Don’t bother looking for the auditorium. It’s going, to be replaced by a long-needed large and flexible space where you can still hear concerts.
    The great white shark skeleton with open jaws, Cove Point Lighthouse and the museum’s otters will still greet you come April. “They will never go away,” Sturrock says.
    But the old familiar Patuxent River exhibit will be a different place, and one you won’t see until autumn. The River and Its Life exhibit is expanding to include more Bay habitats. As well as the river, the new Estuarium will represent deep-water, coastal and freshwater habitats. New creatures coming to populate the habitats will include little sharks, more seahorses and, Sturrock hopes, an octopus.
    But, Sturrock says, octopi “are so smart they learn how to escape.” So the museum must find an exhibit designer smarter than an octopus.
    As well as animals, expect new exhibits inviting you to make maritime experiments and play with computers.
    All this work was supposed to happen last year, but funding fell short. This year, the main funding is a $142,500 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Maryland Heritage Areas added $25,000 to the pot, and private contributors the same. The museum is matching grants with $250,000 in labor.
    Like the otters, staff will be active behind the scenes getting ready for their April reopening.