Ocean City Today

Grand opening of Native American exhibit at museum

By Kara Hallissey | Jun 22, 2017
The new “Native Americans: First Contact on Lower Delmarva” at the Life-Saving Station Museum exhibit showcases tomahawks, spearheads, hand tools, a wooden mortar and pestle as well as arrowheads.

(June 23, 2017) A traditional Native American dance, face painting and the grand opening of a new exhibit at the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum await visitors on Sunday at the inlet.

Beginning at 1 p.m., Native American John Moore, or “Laughing Wolf,” will give a live dance performance with music by the totem pole sculpture at the inlet just south of the museum.

“He will be in full Native American dress and will give at least an hour performance of dance with drums,” Museum Assistant Curator Christine Okerblom said. “[Moore] played a role in Ocean City’s Native American sculpture ceremony in 1976 with his father and sister. It is nice to see him come back as an adult.”

From 2-4 p.m., visitors can check out the new addition, “Native Americans: First Contact on Lower Delmarva,” to the Life-Saving Station Museum for free.

“It is a family-friendly event and exhibit,” Okerblom said. “An opportunity for kids to have their faces painted and there are features in the exhibit they will enjoy. You learn about history. A lot of people do not know much about Native Americans specific to the Eastern Shore or Delmarva Peninsula.”

The exhibit is a snapshot into the daily lives of Native Americans who inhabited the Eastern Shore and Delmarva Peninsula before Europeans arrived. Visitors will be immersed in the culture through prints, first-hand accounts, diagrams, maps, artifacts, photographs and other items. In addition, how the lives of Native Americans changed after Europeans arrived is also depicted.

“We hope people come and enjoy the free events, which are open to the public,” Okerblom said.

Museum Curator Sandy Hurley borrowed most of the signage, photographs and research for the Native American exhibit from the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University.

“We were coming up with ideas for new exhibits and pitching them to the board,” Hurley said. “They thought a Native American exhibit was a great idea and I knew the Nabb Center had done one at the Rackliffe House. We worked with the Nabb Center and asked if we could have the exhibit after it was finished there.”

In addition, members of the museum also contributed artifacts from their personal collections to the exhibit, which will stay up for at least a year.

“The Nabb Center gave us a fraction of what they had in the spring and we put the exhibit up by May. We have been tweaking and adding things,” Hurley said. “Native Americans lived in this area for many years. Arrow heads and pottery shards have been found on the Eastern Shore. If someone has anything we have room to add.”

The exhibit showcases tomahawks, spearheads, hand tools and even a wooden mortar and pestle.

“If it’s well-received we might keep it up longer than a year,” Hurley said. “I always say our museum is the best kept secret in Ocean City. It has a little something for everyone and most people do not know about Native Americans. The performance will be steps away from the museum and new exhibit on Sunday.”

In addition to the new Native American exhibit, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum also has an aquarium room, historical information and artifacts from past decades on the Boardwalk, a surfing exhibit, sands collected from beaches around the world, a children’s interactive and discovery room, and of course, a recreation of the historic life-saving service in Ocean City.

This summer, images from old photographs and postcards taken in West Ocean City will run on a slideshow inside the museum.

“It is interesting to see how much it’s changed over the last 100 years,” Hurley said.

Starting July 3, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum’s annual summer educational programs return with knot-tying tutorials, information about sharks, an aquarium feeding, useful information from Assateague Island National Seashore educators, beach safety from the beach patrol and Ocean City history.

The free programs take place Monday through Saturday until Aug. 26 and can be enjoyed by adults and children. They run about 30 minutes and most take place on the Boardwalk at the tram station just north of the museum, at 10 a.m.

The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, which is located at 813 S. Atlantic Avenue, at the southern tip of the Boardwalk, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the summer. Visit www.ocmuseum.org, call 410-289-4991 or e-mail curator@ocmuseum.org for more information.

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