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Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore: Art Museums

Baltimore offers a rich and diverse visual arts culture. The Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art display older, more traditional collections of painting, sculpture and ceramics from ancient times through the present. Younger museums like the Contemporary and the American Visionary Art Museum lure visitors with installations or fresh collections of outsider art.

Art in Baltimore is often free and easy to access. Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival, entertains residents and visitors each summer. This three-day festival includes painting, drawing, film and sculptures displayed both indoors and out. Free Fall Baltimore makes it possible to experience culture on a budget each October. The Walters and the BMA do not charge admission fees. The outdoor arts scene in Baltimore is also very active as artists display works in the windows of empty shops or even paste them on abandoned buildings.

Baltimore is home to several visual arts schools, both large and small. Students at the nearby Maryland Institute, College of Art may be the most visible in the local art scene. They often display their work at the school itself or in small galleries around the city. The Schuler School of Fine Arts, while lesser known, also offers student exhibitions, as do the art departments of schools like UMBC and Johns Hopkins University.

Artists in Baltimore often reach out to the community to share their work. Some open their workspaces during the Baltimore Open Studio tour, which is sponsored by School 33 each fall. The American Visionary Art Museum sponsors a kinetic sculpture race in the spring. Participants in this race create amusing and unusual sculptures that race through Baltimore, both on land and in the water. The Creative Alliance at the Patterson offers drawing classes and critiques, along with many other activities. (Catherine Mezensky)

Baltimore Art Museums: Art Museums Around Baltimore

Below are our Baltimore Art Museum recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, museum history and other points of interest in Baltimore Art.

American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM)

A unique museum, AVAM solely houses works of art produced by self-taught individuals, the great majority of whom have never received any form of formal training. All pieces are examples of “visionary art.” In other words, every piece emerges from an inner vision of the artist, unconstrained by outer teachings or restrictions.

The museum houses a permanent collection of 5,000 pieces and rotates special exhibitions—often one-of-a-kind and interdisciplinary. The special exhibit …more…

Baltimore Museum of Art (The BMA)

With traditional heavy-hitters like Cezanne, Picasso, and Van Gogh, as well as works by the more modern majors Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Kara Walker, the BMA offers an all-around powerhouse for free. Another area of strength lies within the great variety of special exhibitions provided, from a traditional Taking in the View: English Watercolors and Prints to Front Room: Jim Dine in the Experimental Project space. The program schedule …more…

Contemporary Museum

Note: The Contemporary Museum is currently transitioning to their new home at 505 North Charles Street, which is being renovated by Ziger Snead Architects. They plan on opening at the new location sometime in early 2012. In the mean time, the museum presents rotating exhibitions in different locations throughout Baltimore. Check their website for information about current and upcoming exhibitions.

Contemporary Museum Information

Public Transportation: Very Good (a short walk from MTA …more…

James E. Lewis Museum of Art

This museum at Morgan University was founded in 1951. It is home to thousands of works by artists including Picasso, Albers, Sargent, Constable and Dali. As a historically black university, it particularly focuses on African American art. Its collection represents several centuries of art.

Founder James Lewis studied at Philadelphia’s Temple University, and began Morgan’s visual arts department. Lewis encouraged his students to study art firsthand instead of simply from slides. …more…

Maryland Art Place

MAP is the city’s preeminent institution for contemporary art. Founded in 1981, it receives funding from the State Arts Council and continues to expand. Its first home was a renovated space in the industrial Candler building, near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Its current location on Market Place accommodates its growth since its founding.

MAP puts on several exhibitions and programs throughout the year that are free of charge. It averages 12 exhibitions …more…

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum’s well-rounded collection is internationally recognized for its breadth, incorporating pieces from pre-dynastic Egypt, Greek sculpture, Art Deco jewelry, as well as 19th- and 20th-century European masterpieces. Former exhibitions have included Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, Salviati and the Antique, and The Special Dead: A Medieval Reliquary Revealed.

Perhaps a lesser-known, but equally enriching, aspect of the museum is its library. Rich in resources for art-history …more…