It’s definitely been a different sort of year, hasn’t it? Like the affects on your family, the COVID-19 pandemic and government response, has dramatically changed the Museum and its operations. With the Governor’s original Executive Order (EO), we were ordered closed as were all other businesses and activities not considered essential to the livelihood, safety, and security of the general public. After weeks of all of us closely watching the news while we stayed isolated from large crowds, restrictions are starting to ease. Restaurants can now begin directly serving their customers, albeit in socially-distanced outdoor settings, retail locations can re-open with diminished customer capacity, beaches are re-opening, and the list goes on. But, one thing hasn’t changed yet. Entertainment locations, schools, and Museums are still totally closed to the public by the verbiage of the original EO and lack of subsequent modification. That means, our target date for re-opening is still June 10th…thankfully not that far off now.
So, what have we been doing during this extended shutdown period? Well, we sure haven’t been idle. We’ve begun to get back into the formal process of archiving our Museum collection. Since the passing of Maurice ‘Whitey’ Laurier, we haven’t had a dedicated volunteer that had the knowledge and skills to take on the task of tracking all of our items. That has changed with Ann Buse’ stepping in to take on the task. And, she is doing a marvelous job.
We’ve also done a lot of maintenance and upkeep tasks, including repainting the Museum’s front sign and finishing the painting of the exterior of the Boat Shop building. We’ve repaired some heavily moisture damaged areas of our upstairs walls and ceiling. The downstairs bathroom has been re-papered, repainted, and has had new curtains made and installed. We’ve also built a new outdoor blacksmith forge area, a storage shed, a boardwalk around the events tent, a small ramp onto the event tent’s deck, and an enclosure around our maintenance storage area adjacent to the Carriage House. We’ve installed 10 security cameras, bring our total cameras up to 14, that give us high-definition coverage and recordings of our entire property on a 24/7 basis. Another security measure we accomplished was the repair of long-time inoperable lighting in the Museum parking lot and lighting on the main sign in front of the building. Model building has gone on too. Bruce Brown, our wonderful modeler, has completed a scratch-built model of the USS Yorktown, CG-48, that last active duty Navy ship to carry the name of our village. We’ve also placed two truckloads of oyster shell ‘mulch’ around our front flower beds and planted flowers and sown grass seed in multiple locations.
But, the work isn’t done. We have volunteers re-glazing and painting the Museum building’s large windows and sanding and repainting the metal I-beam frame for the big lightship bell at the western end of our building. Youth volunteers will be trimming our front shrubs and hedges. Additional shelving is being built for the Museum Gift Shop.
We were on track to complete a new exhibit called Bay-to-Belly. This exhibit was funded by a grant from Virginia Humanities, managed by the University of Virginia, and additional funding from Thomas Nelson Community College and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District. Partnered with TNCC and multiple area experts, we’ve developed a 500 square foot, traveling exhibit that will be displayed at multiple locations through the Chesapeake region over the next 18 months. The exhibit focuses on the Foodways of the Chesapeake – the processes, people, and culture of the Bay as it relates to the harvesting and consumption of fish and shellfish. We had hoped to open the exhibit in our Carriage House in late March. But, then, COVID-19 changed our plans. We’re now planning on opening almost as soon as our Summer Camps are over, probably in conjunction with our annual Oyster Roast in mid-September.
And, speaking of Summer Camps, we will be kicking off our camp season in late June. This year we will not run two camps each week. And, we will reduce our class sizes, all to increase social distancing capability. We have acquired loads of sanitizer and are having masks made for all of the attendees. So, if you know off kids that are looking for fun, educational camps, we’re the perfect choice. You can download the form at Summer Camp 2020 Registration Form.
Well, that’s some of the things that have been happening or are coming up. Below are some pictures you may enjoy. In closing, we hope everyone stays healthy and safe. We look forward to seeing you again very soon.