Friday, June 2, 2023

Gloucester Museum Exhibit Puts Spotlight On Local Waterman

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GLOUCESTER – The Gloucester Museum’s newest exhibit pays tribute to a longtime local waterman known for his hand-carved duck decoys.

 “The Art of Carving: The Decoys of William McKinley Smith” will be on display through 2024 in the building at 6539 Main St.

Smith, who was born in 1897 and died in 1986, lived his entire life in the Naxera area of the county. He harvested clams, crabs, and oysters after serving in World War I. In addition to his duck decoys, he also carved seagulls and songbirds. He and his wife, Carrie, had 17 children.

In the display, there are 25 duck decoys, each one more than 60 years old, representing 12 species. There also are photos of Smith.

“This collection is truly amazing and demonstrates the art of decoy carving in Gloucester,” Robert Kelly, Gloucester County’s museums coordinator, said in a press release. “It is very special to have such a large collection of William McKinley Smith decoys all in one place for public viewing.”

Visitors to the exhibit also will be able to learn how decoys are made and can see the various species of ducks native to Gloucester. The display also highlights local history and art, as well as Gloucester’s waterways and wildlife.

The museum worked with Smith’s family members and museum volunteer Vern Garnett on the display. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11am to 3pm, and there is no admission fee. For more information, contact Kelly at (804) 693-1234 or

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