Washington College's immersive Chesapeake Semester is chronicled at a new art gallery in downtown Chestertown, Md. Photo courtesy of WC.

Chestertown, MD Gets Art Gallery Showcasing Washington College’s Chesapeake Semester

Chestertown, Maryland, on the upper Eastern Shore, is known for its quaint, refined-but-artsy downtown. A new art gallery in the heart of town is a little different than the other galleries you’ll find. It exhibits exclusively student and faculty art from the town’s liberal arts college, Washington College.

Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society (CES) recently debuted MuSE: A Community Museum at 210 S. Cross Street in downtown Chestertown. The space allows the public to see work from students and faculty focused on issues impacting the environment.

The first exhibit, “Teaching & Transformation: Semester in the Chesapeake Classroom,” features writing and visual art created by students participating in the College’s Chesapeake Semester. This immersive set of courses provides students the opportunity to study the ecology, history, and culture of the Chesapeake Bay region. Students apply what they’ve learned to social and environmental issues along the Bay.

“The museum space on Cross Street will hopefully provide a bridge between the campus community and
greater Chestertown community… to interact and develop meaningful connections that could lead to future collaborations,” Chesapeake Semester student Melchior Tuerk said. “The upcoming exhibit will inform visitors on the intrinsic and instrumental value of the Chesapeake Semester program that the College hosts, and was completely designed by us, the 2023 Chesapeake Semester class.”

Like the interdisciplinary Chesapeake Semester, MuSE seeks to provide a platform for sharing and learning the many facets of Eastern Shore life. The museum’s rotating exhibits will showcase Washington College’s experiential learning and research to spark dialogue within the community.

“Chesapeake Semester is a fantastic example of how we can engage our community and inspire a stewardship for the local landscape that lasts beyond the classroom experience,” Laura Chamberlain, Associate Director of Civic Engagement at CES, said.

“MuSE will feature student and faculty work focusing on the ways the College interacts with the surrounding community, emphasizing specifically how we approach the intersections of the environment and community.”

According to Chamberlain, MuSE is the only location in downtown Chestertown specifically
designed to facilitate interactions between the public and College students and faculty. In a town with
high volumes of tourist traffic, it will serve as the primary place for visitors to learn about the environmental work being done at the College.

“MuSE will be the only [College] space in downtown Chestertown that is open to the public, easily accessible and visible to all,” Chamberlain said.

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

“Teaching & Transformation: Semester in the Chesapeake Classroom” will be on exhibit until August 2024. Future exhibit plans include an art installation featuring pieces by an artist-in-residence currently working at CES’s Foreman’s Bird Branch Observatory, which bands countless migratory birds. The artwork will highlight nesting birds at the College’s River and Field Campus with a focus on migratory species in celebration of World Migratory Bird Day on October 12.

Additional upcoming work includes an exhibit tentatively titled “Where Water Meets Land,” which will
showcase work by CES Director of Cultural and Natural Resource Initiatives Michael Chiarrapa. Slated
to open in November 2024, the exhibit captures the essence of the Chesapeake region’s trademark maritime history.

According to Chiarrapa, his exhibit will “outline historical and contemporary issues that are most relevant
in identifying, interpreting, and preserving Maryland’s maritime cultural landscapes.”

When exhibits are installed, MuSE will be open on First Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to noon during the Chestertown Farmers Market. Requests for group showings will also be available.