Station North, ‘Ha!’ and the Art Scene of Baltimore
Extraordinary museums and distinct art districts such as Station North and "Ha!" paint a perfect picture of Baltimore's appreciation of the arts. Here's what you should not miss.
As a kid, you watched the astronauts heading into space and wished you were going with them. If you want to relive that time, head to a new exhibit of science fiction toys from the 1950s and 1960s at Baltimore’s Geppi’s Entertainment Museum just a short trip from the Inner Harbor and Four Seasons Hotel. “Out of This World Toys” features more than 75 battery-powered and wind-up robots and spaceships from a private collection that has never been seen in public before.
Luckily, you don’t need to blast off to see all that there is to see in Baltimore’s art scene. The city’s clutch of museums and galleries are easily accessible from the Inner Harbor. Whether your taste runs to Dutch masters or American primitives, you can find it in Baltimore during your stay at Four Seasons Hotel near Fells Point.
The American Visionary Art Museum celebrates the country’s self-taught artists. It has enlisted Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, to help present “What Makes Us Smile,” an exhibit of art and creations on the theme of laughter. It includes work by the late John Callahan, the quadriplegic cartoonist, and a bed made as a tribute to Mad Magazine. Or take in one of the highlights of AVAM’s permanent collection, the quirky automata from London’s Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.
Baltimore wouldn’t be Baltimore without its harbour, so it is entirely fitting that one of the shows this season is about life at sea. “Setting Sail” at the Walters Art Museum is a collection of drawings, prints and watercolours of ships, sailors, and the sea. The Walters also has an intriguing look at its restoration of a book written by the great Greek mathematician Archimedes, an effort that produced some surprising discoveries about mathematics.
There are more surprises next year at the Walters in a show titled “Revealing the African Presence in Europe During the Renaissance.” The unprecedented exhibit looks at both how Europe imagined Africa during this age of exploration and how Africans actually lived in Europe.
Beyond the museum scene, Baltimore has two distinct arts districts, one up by its Amtrak station, dubbed, appropriately enough, Station North, and the Highlandtown Arts & Entertainment District, which those in the know call “Ha!” Station North is home to an eclectic flea market on the first Saturday of every month. Both neighbourhoods are chock-a-block with eateries where you can dine and view the work of local artists.
Here’s a brief calendar of ongoing and upcoming events:
Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2011 Finalists
Through August 7, 2011
The Baltimore Museum of Art presents a special exhibition of works by the finalists for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.
Setting Sail: Drawings of the Sea from the Walters Collection
Through September 11, 2011
Works by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, Paul Gavarni, Alfred Jacob Miller and others.
Atlas At Last!
Through September 18, 2011
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum presents a special exhibition of Atlas-Seaboard comics.
The Art of the Writing Instrument from Paris to Persia
Through September 25, 2011
Pieces owned by statesmen, calligraphers, the wealthy and fashionable at the Walters.
Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists
Through October 16, 2011
A showcase at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum featuring eight female artists who use three-dimensional mediums and unexpected materials.
Riots, Railroads and the Coming of Mr. Lincoln
Through December 31, 2011
The Sports Legends Museum, once was a railroad station, marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with an exhibition on Lincoln’s trips through Baltimore.
Out of This World Toys
Through June 3, 2012
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum showcases a private collection of sci-fi novelties from the 1950s and 1960s.
The War Came by Train
Through May 30, 2015
Railroads played a key role in the Civil War, and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum marks that with a display of the world’s largest collection of Civil War railroad equipment.
Baker Artist Awards 2011
September 7, 2011–October 2, 2011
The Baltimore Museum of Art celebrates the recipients of the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize Winners: visual artist Gary Kachadourian, performance artist Audrey Chen, and beatboxer and vocal percussionist Shodekeh.
Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes
October 16, 2011–January 01, 2012
The Walters Art Museum restoration of a master text on mathematics by Archimedes yields surprising discoveries.
Thai Story: The Vessantara Jataka
October 29, 2011–January 22, 2012
Also at the Walters, 13 paintings of acts of charity committed by Prince Vessantara, one of the past lives of Buddha.
Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe
October 14, 2012–January 20, 2013
This groundbreaking exhibition at the Walters looks at how Africans were idealised and presented in Renaissance society.