Historic Annapolis Opens New Exhibit

By Steve Adams

Historic Annapolis got a jump on celebrating the city’s history, culture, and heritage by hosting a grand opening ceremony for its new permanent museum exhibition, “Annapolis: An American Story,” in downtown Annapolis on March 19.

Beginning under a big tent alongside Ego Alley and across the street from the museum, the event began with remarks from dignitaries including Governor Larry Hogan, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, and Senator Sarah Elfreth, all praising the expansiveness and inclusiveness of the exhibit and the strong public investment in historical preservation and education that it represents. 

“I’m very proud that we’ve continued to invest in preserving and educating the public about all aspects of Maryland’s rich history, and this exhibit is just another step in helping make that possible for visitors and Marylanders alike,” Hogan told CBM Bay Weekly following the event. 

Buckley echoed the sentiment, saying, “This is true place-making. This building is an anchor at the base of Main Street and, as one of the most visible spots in the city, is the perfect place for a museum and an exhibit that will engage the public. I can’t think of a better fit for this building or a better steward for its future.”

Speeches were followed by performances by the U.S. Naval Academy Band and the Faith Community Choir, along with a poetry reading from Chris Haley, Director of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives. Historic Annapolis President and CEO Robert Clark, who served as the master of ceremonies, then delivered final words and gave the Naptown Brass Band the go-sign to lead the crowd on a short, high-energy parade to the museum’s front door. Squire Frederick, the Annapolis Town Crier, proclaimed the exhibit officially open after the ribbon was cut. 

The exhibit includes a diverse collection of artifacts, from a colonial printing press to a 1950s lunch counter; images dating back to the Revolution to the present day; and personal stories, both in print and voice, which span three floors of museum and over 300 years of history. 

“What’s so special about this exhibit is that, because the community came together to share their stories and in many cases their artifacts, it represents over 350 years of the community – of revolutionaries, visionaries, civil rights leaders, and more,” says Mary-Angela Hardwick, Historic Annapolis Vice President of Education and Interpretation. “Its spotlighted storytelling ensures that every person, from children to new immigrants, will see themselves in this place, and that visitors will really see the incredibly rich, diverse, and inclusive history of Annapolis.”

Hardwick says the museum aims to serve as a launching point for further exploration of the history of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, and Maryland.

“The museum is meant to be a starting point for visitors,” said Hardwick. “It’s a place where you can get a spotlighted overview of the community’s history, but hopefully also discover, then go out and learn more about specific stories that are introduced at the museum, and do a deeper dive, at other special sites.”

The Museum of Historic Annapolis is at 99 Main Street in downtown Annapolis. 10am-5pm Monday through Saturday, 11am-5pm Sundays, $10 w/discounts: Annapolis.org.