International Museum Day is Thursday, and what better way to celebrate by taking a tour of the Life Saving Station Museum on South Atlantic Avenue? Here’s another incentive: the museum is waiving its admission fee for the day and having discounts at the gift shop!
This year’s theme of International Museum Day is contested histories: saying the taboo, and gaining awareness for controversial moments and ultimately acceptance. Ocean City may look like the idyllic summer town, but there were several controversial points in its history, like how only two hotels, the Henry and the Pines Hotel were built to house black lodgers in a time of segregation.
Other instances, like Ocean City’s burgeoning surfing scene, were also hot-button issues. When surfing first washing onto the resort in the 1940s, older residents and city officials complained of the sport populating the waters and fears it would lead to a counterculture. The Life Saving Station Museum has a great exhibit detailing the timeline of when surfing started and the local response to where it is today.
The Life Saving Station Museum also has a new exhibit to entice visitors titled “Native Americans: First Contact On Lower Delmarva.” This exhibit has prints, first-hand accounts and artifacts that show how Native Americans first lived on North America at the time when Europeans arrived. The exhibit, brought by the Salisbury University’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, also shows how their way of life was impacted afterwards.
Other popular exhibits include the 250 gallon aquarium on the first floor contains several sea creatures indigenous to Ocean City. There’s also a shark exhibit that shows a close-up look at teeth of a Tiger shark and other creatures. In the height of the summer, Museum Curator Sandy Hurley also offers children a “show and tell” of the aquarium exhibits as the summer goes on, so there’s a reason to come back. Fish feeding and rope tying demonstrations are also scheduled in the future.
To get the full scope of Eastern Shore roots, there’s a exhibit on the second floor that honors powerful industry families in Ocean City. These families started flagships of Ocean City’s Boardwalk businesses, like Dolles Candyland and Fisher’s Popcorn, that are remain today. Check it out!
The Ocean City Life Saving Station is just one of thousands of museums participating in the International Museum Day this year. The holiday was started by the International Council of Museums in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society, and it’s been growing every since. International Museum Day broke its record for participation in 2016, with more than 35,000 museums hosting events in some 145 countries.
The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is located on the south end of the Boardwalk at 813 South Atlantic Avenue. For more information, call 410-289-4991 or visit www.ocmuseum.org . The open house will be held on May 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The museum is also open May and October daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and June through September daily at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission fees on typical days are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors over 62 years old or active duty military service members, and $1 for children from ages 6 -17. Children under 6 are free.