As Deltaville Maritime Museum volunteers watched the last ember of the John’s pavilion and the museum building’s charred remains being extinguished, they were already thinking of their membership and community. How were they going to tell the families participating in that week’s Family Boatbuilding Week, their skiffs burned to the ground? How could they continue scheduled outdoor events while they rebuilt? Two years after that fateful July 2012 day, the Museum celebrates its Grand Opening June 14, 2014, beginning with an art exhibit by maritime artist John M. Barber.
The Deltaville Maritime Museum in Virginia, founded in September 2002, began as an institution to collect and preserve the boatbuilding history of Deltaville, once called the “Boatbuilding Capital of the Chesapeake.” That mission expanded to include the preservation of the living history of all watermen of the Chesapeake Bay. The Museum is also home to the F.D. Crockett, a rare log-bottom buyboat listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
The seven buildings on 36 acres also serve as a center of community activities in Deltaville. Monthly farmers’ market and concert series, an annual Easter Egg Hunt, Seafood Festival, seminars, large meetings, weddings, family reunions and birthday parties fill the calendar each year. The Board recognized the importance of rebuilding quickly without too much interruption to the community.
Work on the pavilion began in January 2013, and made sufficient progress to allow the pavilion to be used during opening weekend that April. Work continued around scheduled events until it was fully finished by the annual members’ meeting in September.
Next, construction began on the more complex museum with a design reminiscent of the Stingray Point Hotel, a Deltaville icon torn down in the 1980s. The monitor style roof line creates a dramatic 24’ wide by 25’ high center allowing three-dimensional exhibits including boats with tall rigs.
This past April, the museum had a “soft” opening during “Working Waterman’s Weekend,” the traditional season opening event. A more elaborate Grand Opening Ceremony is scheduled June 14, 2014. Fittingly, the first exhibit in the new building showcases an artist whose deep commitment to the Chesapeake Bay community mirrors that of the fine volunteers who brought the museum out of the ashes.
American maritime artist John M. Barber spent his career chronicling the watermen, vessels and lifestyles of the Chesapeake Bay. His work reflects the time he actually worked as a deckhand on a skipjack, or spent simply observing the ebb and flow of the waterfront. Barber’s paintings bring his subjects to life through that first-hand knowledge. How appropriate that Mr. Barber’s retrospective of more than 50 original pieces be the opening exhibit for the museum’s grand opening.
Also on display will be the “F.D. Crockett and Steamer Piankatank off Stingray Point Circa 1930 – Chesapeake Bay,” a piece Barber created especially for the Museum. Signed and numbered Giclee prints will be available, with all proceeds benefiting the Museum. The John M. Barber exhibit will be at the Museum until October 12, 2014.
Deltaville is best known as a safe harbor to refuel and catch a bit of shut-eye. Build an extra day into your travel plans to explore the Maritime Museum or to take in one of their events. You will always be welcomed.