The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s newest waterfowling exhibition will travel to the 47th annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Md. November 10-12, 2017, before returning to CBMM’s Waterfowling Building through March 2018. Festival ticket holders can see the exhibition at Easton High School.
Potomac Waterfowling: Gunning the Nation’s River follows the harvesting history from 18th century statesmen like George Washington—who wrote about memorable hunts of the Potomac’s stunning numbers of waterfowl—to the 20th century, when the combination of Washington, D.C.’s growing economy and the rich Potomac environment spurred both commercial and sport markets for waterfowl.
Through decoys, photographs, period objects, and historic documents, Potomac Waterfowling demonstrates Washington, D.C.’s influences on the waterfowling culture of the Potomac—especially the decoys carved for the region’s gunning clubs. Often commissioned from craftsmen who hailed from far corners of the Chesapeake region, the canvasback rigs displayed a remarkable diversity of form. Whether the work of James “Corb” Reed, whose Chincoteague roots are evident in his stunning naturalistic decoys, to James E. Baines, who carved decoys for gunning on the Potomac that were dead ringers for Upper Bay birds, the melting pot quality of Washington D.C. clearly extended to its waterfowling culture in creative ways.
“The Potomac River decoy style is unlike anywhere else—it encompasses techniques and details found all over the Chesapeake Bay,” said CBMM Director of Education and Associate Curator Kate Livie, curator of the exhibition. “Decoy carvers were bringing the traditional decoy forms from their hometowns to the Potomac region when they moved to D.C. for work. So, you see it all—from classic Upper Bay birds to Chincoteague stools—all created to harvest the Potomac’s enormous waterfowl population.”
Potomac Waterfowling: Gunning the Nation’s River is generously sponsored by Judy and Henry Stansbury, and the world’s leading decoy auction firm, Guyette & Deeter.