Washington College’s ‘community museum’ to open in downtown Chestertown

CHESTERTOWN — MuSE: A Community Museum, off-campus space dedicated to Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society, will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, March 1.

According to a news release, the updated and enhanced location at 210 S. Cross St. in downtown Chestertown will host a number of rotating exhibits highlighting Washington College teaching, experiential learning and research with opportunities for sharing, learning and dialogue in a community space.

“Facilitating shared knowledge and understanding to drive action for conservation and community resilience is at the core of our mission,” Valerie Imbruce, director of the CES, said in the news release.

She added, “This new off-campus space will aid us in creating opportunities for active collaboration for both teaching and learning for our Washington College community, community organizations, regional K-12 educators, students, and interested visitors. We’re excited to welcome the community into this new, innovative, and collaborative space.”

Last fall, the Digital Scholarship in Museum Partnerships Project was the first collaborative effort featured in the Cross Street space, which hosted a collection of exhibits created by students from five museums in Kent County — Sumner Hall,  Waterman’s Museum,  Worton Point Schoolhouse, Betterton Heritage Museum and Kent Museum.

With the goal of preserving and providing greater access to the local histories of our community, the exhibition highlighted the mission of the space by providing digitized looks into each museum, viewable through virtual reality with 360-degree virtual tours, digitized collections, oral history interviews and interactive panels.

The first exhibit in the new community museum, titled “Teaching & Transformation: Semester in the Chesapeake Classroom,” will showcase the nature and culture of the Chesapeake Bay region through the final projects created by Washington College’s Chesapeake Semester students.

Their hand-drawn maps, visual journals, and other writing and visual arts will provide visitors a sense of the unique Chesapeake ecosystem, analyze solutions to environmental problems and explore the nexus between science, policy and people’s everyday lives in the region.

“The Chesapeake Semester is such a unique opportunity afforded to Washington College by our location here on the historically, culturally, and ecologically rich Eastern Shore,” Sara Clarke-De Reza, education department chair and director of the museum, field, and community education minor, said in the news release.

“This exhibit showcases our students’ intensive interdisciplinary study of the Chesapeake Bay, and their comparative study in watershed communities in northern Belize,” Clarke-De Reza added. “The students’ hope for this exhibit is that it will highlight the lessons learned through classroom and field-based experiences across the semester in a way that expands visitors’ understanding of the human and social dimensions of environmental issues in our region.”

When exhibits are installed, MuSE will be open on First Fridays from 4:30 to 7 p.m and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon during the Chestertown Farmers Market.

Requests for group showings also will be available.

“Teaching & Transformation: Semester in the Chesapeake Classroom” will remain open through August 2024.

For more information, contact Laura Chamberlin at lchamberlin2@washcoll.edu.

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