East meets West at The Walters. The museum was established in 1934, with a gift from prominent art collector Henry Walters as its initial collection. On one hand, its collection spans nearly the entire history of Western art. Its spacious galleries are home to Greek and Roman statuary, Baroque carvings and a large collection of Renaissance paintings. On the other hand, its elegant Hackerman House wing holds one of the largest collections of traditional Asian art in the United States.
Considered one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture, the Baltimore Basilica is the nation's oldest Catholic cathedral. Begun in 1806 and completed in 1821, the cathedral was designed by Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol. With its six Corinthian columns fronting a grand portico, the cathedral resembles a Greek temple. Nine stained-glass windows fill the massive interior with light. Visitors in recent years have included Pope John Paul II and the late Mother Theresa.
The sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the 'Star Spangled Banner'. The fort is best known for the part it played during the War of 1812, successfully holding off an attack by the British Navy. When Scott Key saw the flag still flying over the fort after surviving the attack, he wrote the poem that became the national anthem. Today, the fort is a National Historic Park. The restored barracks hold exhibits of military and historical artifacts and a well-kept trail runs along the water's edge, affording spectacular views of ships entering and leaving the busy harbor.
'Visionary Art' is a term used to describe art that is created by people who use ordinary media to express their own intensely personal ideas about life. This museum has assembled a wonderful collection of this very Visionary art. Since Visionary artists generally lack formal training, and work outside of established art traditions, their works are as bold, innovative and inspirational as the visions that spawned them. Children under six years of age are free.
The soul of this museum is its spacious wing dedicated to Modern Art masters like Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock and their contemporaries. The museum has the second largest private collection of Andy Warhol's works. It also features Oceanic and American Indian art, a sizable Old Masters collection and a beautiful sculpture garden. The BMA is also home to the Cone collection, which is a treasury of Early Modern masterpieces.
Federal Hill Park is a pristine park offering spectacular views of the Inner Harbor and a wonderful, fenced-in play area for the kids, complete with slides, a sandbox and monkey bars. Dogs are also welcome. While you're visiting the park, take a moment to learn about one of Baltimore's most prominent citizens. A monument details the life of Major General Samuel Smith, who helped defeat the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812. He went on to become a Congressman, then president of the Senate and, finally, mayor of Baltimore.
Tradestone Gallery offers Russian artwork and handmade crafts, from nesting dolls to lacquer boxes. The boxes are a unique miniature art form. Each is exquisitely detailed and very well crafted. Many of these small masterpieces are made out of papier-mache, a process that can take months. New items from Russia arrive every month. A small exhibit space features fine contemporary artwork, and a "Russian Bazaar" offers nesting dolls, mother-of-pearl jewelry and chess sets.
This handsome brick row home is Baltimore's oldest residence. Restored by the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fells Point, it is filled with period furnishings and illustrates what life was like for the shipping merchants who lived in Baltimore before the American Revolution. A small garden features herb plants the type that would have been found in Colonial gardens. It is free and open to the public. The house is open for tours daily; call for more details.
This small gallery in downtown Baltimore has been showcasing the talents of local artists, particularly those who work in oils on canvas, for more than a decade. The solo shows featured here change frequently and also include prints, watercolors and drawings. The gallery is home to two exhibit spaces and is in comfortable walking distance to restaurants, the Walters Art Gallery and Center Stage, a renowned regional theater. During the summer months, the gallery hosts group exhibitions.
This gallery documents the history of architecture. If it's been blueprinted, you'll probably find it photographed, sketched or painted here. On the first floor, the nonprofit American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gallery displays the work of local artists. The prices are not cheap, but they're fair. Downstairs, exhibits on such topics as Baltimore's industrial buildings and the use of natural light in architecture are displayed. These works are usually not offered for sale.
Project Liberty Ship is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the World War II S.S. John W. Brown Liberty ship. As a historic museum, the ship is open for tours, exhibitions and social functions. The John W. Brown is one of only two operating Liberty ships from a fleet of 2710. Arrangements must be made by phone first.
The African Art Museum of Maryland has been providing the Baltimore area with access to fascinating African art and history since 1980. Besides its permanent collection, the museum also offers workshops for adults, kids, and families, outreach programs to local primary schools, lectures and an annual guided trip to Africa to experience African culture first hand. A great educational resource for people of all ages, races and cultures, the African Art Museum plays a vital role in its community. Call ahead for museum hours, as they are irregular.