Surrounded by wildlife in the heart of the Chesapeake’s Atlantic Flyway, the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art features the world’s largest and finest public collection of decorative and antique decoys, which share the historic and cultural legacies of the Chesapeake Country. The Museum was named in honor of Stephen and Lemuel Ward, whose vision and artistry in carving decoys was instrumental in the transition of the decoy from a working tool to an expressive wildfowl sculpture.
Waterfowl hunting on the Chesapeake Bay, especially on the Susquehanna Flats, was once known as market gunning and supplied Canvasback ducks to prepare and serve in exclusive restaurants in Washington, D.C. and New York City, among other metropolitan areas along the Atlantic. Wooden carved decoys attracted geese and ducks to land in areas where hunters were hidden, waiting to harvest them. Exquisite carved decoys made as an art form now decorate mantles and bookshelves of homes throughout the Chesapeake Region and beyond. With members in all 50 states and 8 countries, the reach of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art reflects the wide appeal of and interest in an art form that highlights the interconnections of art, nature, and tradition.
As wildfowl have been celebrated in art across continents and throughout human history, the museum collection showcases the contributions of artists who have carved birds both as tools for the hunt and as objects of artistic expression. The impact of this institution has grown dramatically from its origins as a grassroots effort to celebrate the two exceptional bird carvers from Crisfield, MD whose talents were unmistakable. When one experiences the Ward Museum, they are part of an enduring celebration of the artistic, natural, and cultural legacy of these artists and the thousands of others who have captivated the world.
The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special programs are offered throughout the year.