News Release, Calvert County Library

Water/Ways, a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, is opening at Calvert Library Prince Frederick on Saturday, January 25. The library is the final venue of the exhibition’s six-stop tour of the state, presented through the Maryland Humanities’ Museum on Main Street program. Each Water/Ways site creates at least one local exhibit to complement the exhibition; Calvert Library and partners have developed multiple exhibits.

The library showcases how water inspires visual art and the written word. The library solicited water-themed art to inspire writers to craft an original poem. The art is on display at the library now through early March with poetry submissions due by January 30. Poets will read their work on February 12 at a Celebration of Southern Maryland “Water/Ways” Art & Poetry. From February 12 through March 6, the top poem for each visual piece will be printed and displayed with the art, and thanks to a grant from Maryland Humanities, Calvert Library will be publishing a book with selected poetry and art from the project that will be added to the library collection and available for sale.

Suzanne Shelden, an artist in many mediums, has coordinated much of the project, and the art and poetry appear on her website,  “We are also encouraging younger poets [under age fifteen] to craft short poems to be displayed in real-time while the art is up,” said Robyn Truslow, Calvert Library’s Public Relations Coordinator. The library will provide scrap paper and, when the poem is finalized, nice cardstock. “Bring your final piece to the circulation desk, and a librarian will get you registered and your poem posted,” she instructs young writers. 

For the second companion exhibit, Calvert Library Prince Frederick partnered with Calvert Marine Museum.  The exhibit presents a short overview of the museum’s research, preservation, and collection in Southern Maryland. “The exhibit explores our local water story through paleontology, estuarine biology, and maritime history,” says Rachelle M. Green, Deputy Director of Calvert Marine Museum.  As an additional companion exhibit, Grace Mary Brady, Director of Bayside History Museum, compiled a display of postcards showcasing Calvert County’s local water/ways.

There are many events associated with the Water/Ways exhibition as well.  The first event is a kickoff reception hosted by Friends of Calvert Library on Saturday, January 25 at 10 am at Calvert Library Prince Frederick.  Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate, wrote a water-themed poem that she will share. Patuxent Voices will perform a water-themed medley, and Calvert High School students who captured Calvert County water-stories in documentaries last winter will share their work.  Participants will also have time to peruse the exhibits and enjoy refreshments offered by the Friends of Calvert Library.

Water has played important roles throughout Southern Maryland’s history, and students of the Civil War will want to put Thursday, January 30, at 7 pm on their calendar. Author Donald Grady Shomette tells the story of “Anaconda’s Tail: The Civil War on the Potomac Frontier” at this author’s presentation.  His new book will be available for sale and signing at Calvert Library Prince Frederick the night of the event.

Calvert County Master Gardeners are also actively participating in the Water/Ways project.  They are offering Garden Smarter classes throughout the exhibit on themes such as water management, gardening during drought, and buffer gardens. In addition, they will be doing a book raffle for those that complete a survey about their interaction with the Water/Ways exhibit.

On Tuesday, February 4 at 7 pm, Dr. Vic Kennedy, Professor Emeritus at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, will present “Depleting the Protein Factory of the Chesapeake Bay.”  He will share eyewitness reports by early colonists, historical newspaper articles, and federal and state management reports from the 1800s to painting a picture of a cornucopia that we can now only imagine. The presentation will include a Q&A session about the history and future of the Chesapeake Bay and will encourage attendees to consider the impact on Calvert watermen.

For middle school and up, homeschoolers and lifelong learners, there will be a day spent exploring the exhibit with a docent followed by lunch and a tour of several labs at Chesapeake Biological Lab in Solomons. Field trippers will learn about nutrient analysis, water quality, watershed science, oyster aquaculture, and other Chesapeake Bay research. This Thursday, February 6, the event requires registration.  If fossils are more your young person’s interest, February 8, 2:30 pm, Science Saturdays brings Calvert Marine Museum to the exhibit at Calvert Library Prince Frederick for a fossil show-and-tell.  Plus, the museum’s paleontologist will be on hand to see if you can stump him with your fossil find.  

On Sunday, February 9 at 2 pm, library partner Bayside History Museum hosts Dr. Ralph Eshelman at North Beach Town Hall to give a history of lighthouses from ancient to modern times in his talk “Fire by Night, Smoke by Day: A History of Seamarks.”

On Saturday, February 22 at 2 pm, American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT) Executive Director Greg Bowen will talk about watersheds and how we impact massive quantities of water every day.  Learn your home’s watershed and evaluate its condition and how you might impact it…for good or ill.   On Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm, Dr. Walter Boynton and Health Officer Dr. Larry Polsky will talk more about the health of the bay, what this means for our health, and how ecological changes threaten both wildlife and humans.

The exhibition and events will serve as a community meeting place to convene conversations about water’s impact on American culture.  Join the conversation!  For more information, contact Robyn Truslow at 410-535-0291.

This Project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. Water/Ways programming is also supported in part by two anonymous donors, and Maryland Public Television is the tour’s Media Sponsor. Calvert Library Prince Frederick’s partners are American Chestnut Land Trust; Bayside History Museum; Calvert County Health Department; Calvert County Public Schools; Calvert Marine Museum; Chesapeake Biological Lab; Friends of Calvert Library; Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum; Maryland Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners; Suzanne Shelden; and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. 

Water/Ways runs at Calvert Library Prince Frederick January 25–March 6, 2020. The venue is located at 850 Costley Way in Prince Frederick. The exhibition will be on view Mondays through Thursdays, 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; Fridays Noon–5:00 p.m.; and Saturdays 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. The venue is closed on Sundays. Learn more at or call (410) 535-0291.

 About Water/Ways
The newest traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, Water/Ways examines water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element. Water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation, industry and more. It inspires art and music.

Many faiths revere water as a sacred symbol. Authors and artists are inspired by the complex character of water—a substance that is seemingly soft and graceful that is yet a powerful and nearly unstoppable force. Water also plays a practical role in American society. The availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns. Access to water and control of water resources has long been a central part of political and economic planning. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

With the programmatic support and guidance of Maryland Humanities, selected towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs, and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding of what water means culturally, socially, and spiritually in their own community.

About Museum on Main Street
Museum on Main Street (MoMS) is a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service program that teams up with state humanities councils to bring high-quality traveling exhibits to small communities through their own museums, historical societies, and other cultural venues. Residents enthusiastically engage with exhibition content, as diverse community members come together to share and celebrate their heritage.

Maryland Humanities is a statewide nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities. For more information, visit Maryland Humanities is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maryland, private foundations, corporations, small businesses, and individual donors.  Connect with Maryland Humanities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow Water/Ways using hashtag #ValueWater. 

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...