Heading into its 50th anniversary, the Calvert Marine Museum has a new, and only its fourth, director talking the helm.
Jeffery Murray took over the reins of the directorship from the retiring Sherrod Sturrock on July 8.
Sturrock feels the museum is in more than capable hands with Murray.
“I think certainly with Jeff taking over, the museum is building upon the strong foundation Ralph Eshelman, and Dave Alves built and is moving forward,” Sturrock said.
Since April 2017, Murray has served as the deputy director and had shadowed Sturrock in learning the position of director.
“I did step in and learn, essentially, her position for the past two-plus years,” Murray said. “When I was hired, she informed she was looking to groom someone to take over when she retired.”
Before coming to the Calvert Marine Museum, Murray served as curator for the Wade House which is part of the Wisconsin Historical Society. He spent 15 years with there before moving to Lakewood, Colo., and serving for four years as the director of the Lakewood Heritage Center.
“My wife and I wanted to get back to the East Coast to be closer to family,” Murray said.
With the CMM Murray did get back to the East Coast, and now that he and family are back and settled, he is looking at what is on is plate both in the near future and what is coming down the road.
“We have a lot going on,” Murray said. “We want to replace the bulkhead in the boat basin. We want to put a new roof on the Drum Point Lighthouse, which is sorely needed.”
What Murray wants to get the ball rolling with is the first phase of the museum’s site masterplan.
“The thing that I really want to get going on is the first phase of our site masterplan,” he said. “We will do a strategic masterplan sometime next year. I would say the overall goal for the site masterplan is to make the outside of the campus look as good or better than the inside of the museum. We want to take some of the wow-factor that is inside the museum and bring it outside. The first phase of that involves a capital campaign for the infrastructure to do a lot of the outside work as well as design of our new state paleontology center, which is going to sit across the parking lot, for right now or at least that is the plan as of right now. In my first year, I would really like to get that done.”
Murray will have a very busy first year on the job as the museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the start of 2020.
“We are planning an entire slate of 12 months of great activities to celebrate our 50th year,” he said. “From January to December, everything will center around the anniversary. Our 50th anniversary is on October 18, 2020. It is when we were founded. We’ve come quite a long way, and I think that we have quite a bright future. It is going to be a lot of fun. We will have one big celebratory event, sometimes close to the 50th anniversary. We are planning an exhibit right now that will focus on 30 years of concerts at CMM. It will be our changing exhibit for the year, and it should go up in March. I think that will be a real crowd pleaser. We have had some many wonderful artists come through here over the past 30 years.”
Being constantly busy is just part and parcel of being the director, Murray feels he is well prepared for what lies ahead.
“There is no downtime, nor do I ever get bored. It is a certain impossibility of the job,” he said. “I’m excited; this is why I signed up for the job.”
The Calvert Marine Museum is a constant hub of activity, and that is inspired in part by the large number of visitors. The museum drew nearly 90,000 people last years, and that is not including the attendance from its concert series.
The CMM is thriving in time when other museums are having trouble with attendance or exhibits. Murray credits the museum’s sustainability on its partnership structure.
We are, and I think, a wonderful example of a public/private partnership that we have with Calvert County and our fundraising arm, which is the Marine Museum Society. We have the flexibility and the ability to be innovative and creative where other museums don’t, and I’ve worked at those other museums that just don’t have that opportunity. There is no room or flexibility to be creative or take any risks whatsoever. There isn’t the staffing to make amazing things happen the way we do here.”
And it is the staff and volunteers that Murray credits with elevating the reputation of the CMM.
“We have great people,” he said. “We have a great culture. Our staff and volunteers have been very supportive. Our people are what make things hum. This place is amazing. We do amazing things. The sky is the limit.”