Originally, the 2013 renovation was to include the mezzanine level, but funding fell short, resulting in Phase II of the project. The first phase – including the Harms Gallery, lobby, and Museum Store, was completed in 2014. Phase II, the mezzanine level education spaces, is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2019.
With many education programs either at or near capacity and with staff members working in cramped, poorly lit office environments and classroom spaces, physical expansion and upgrades are necessary to meet current and future needs. Colimore Architectural Firm of Baltimore was selected to do the architectural and engineering design and produce construction documents. For the past eighteen months, they have worked with county and museum staff to create new and improved interior spaces that will enhance and update our capabilities. Our goals for Phase II include the creation of two large, flexible work spaces (classrooms) for students; adding a unisex bathroom; segregating access to the mezzanine mechanical space by creating a new visitor walkway to the mezzanine exhibit area; establishing adequate storage; and building new office space for education staff. To accomplish this we will expand the footprint of the second floor by enclosing three additional areas over the lobby, the Skates and Rays exhibit and the entrance to the Paleontology Gallery. We will not, however, be enclosing any areas above the Maritime History Gallery.
The two new classrooms, with a combined capacity to hold up to 60, will contain a foldable wall between that can be opened to create one large programming zone. Each will also come equipped with a sink, storage cabinets, and a state-of-the art smart television. A unisex bathroom will be located immediately outside classroom #1, and an oversized storage area with multiple staff access points will be located behind the bathroom, stairwell, and hallway. An additional new enclosed space to be built over the entrance to the Paleontology Gallery will help create room for new staff offices and a hallway.
Finally, HVAC systems will be enhanced to provide conditioned air to spaces new and existing, and the mechanical systems will be jacketed to mitigate noise levels. When the project is finished, we will have tripled the size of our dedicated storage space, more than doubled the number of persons we can accommodate in our teaching spaces, and significantly expanded the audiovisual and technical capabilities we have in our classrooms. In addition, we will have greatly enhanced our office space and gained a restroom in an area of the building where one has never existed.
This is a major step forward! The new classrooms will also enable the Education Department to physically move current programs out of the Harms Gallery, which is intended to host meetings, lectures, and concerts and is also a room available for public rental. Funding for the project is being provided by Calvert County through the county’s Capital Improvement Program Budget. On December 11, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners awarded the contract to W.M. Davis, a local contractor. During January and February, the museum has been closed to the public so that workers can frame in and close up what will become the new interior spaces. Work will continue on the mezzanine level once the museum re-opens in March, with the project scheduled for completion in May.
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon