Baltimore Museum of Art
When legendary Baltimore collector Claribel Cone died in 1929, she left her monumental collection to her sister Etta with a request that it be donated to The Baltimore Museum of Art upon Etta’s death if “the spirit of appreciation of modern art in Baltimore should improve.”
Baltimore’s citizens must have embraced this new style of art because upon Etta’s death in 1949, the BMA received Claribel and Etta’s combined collection including the largest holding of Henri Matisse works in the world. The Museum’s internationally renowned Cone Collection features storied paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and illustrated books by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh.
Revealing a remarkable breadth, the BMA has significant works from the 19th century to the present. An impressive collection of 20th-century art features major examples of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and Pop Art as well as one of the largest collections in the country of late works by Andy Warhol. Devoted to the art of our time, the Museum continues to expand its contemporary art collection, including recent acquisitions of works by Ellsworth Kelly, Jim Dine, Olafur Eliasson, and others.
The BMA has assembled one of the most significant holdings of works on paper in the country, resulting in 65,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. The landmark collection’s strengths lie in its 16th-and 17th-century prints, 19th-century French drawings and prints, and 20th-century American photography.
One of the hidden treasures in the Museum is its outstanding collection of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts dating from the colonial era to the late 20th century, with a special focus on works by Maryland artists. The American Wing of the Museum, established in 1929, is among the oldest in the country.
The BMA is home to one of the earliest and most important collections of African art in the U.S. The extensive collection consists of more than 2,000 objects, spanning centuries and cultures from ancient Egypt to contemporary Zimbabwe. Several pieces are internationally known as the best of their type, such as D’mba, an unparalleled Baga female dance headdress from Guinea.
With more than 90,000 objects, the BMA organizes major traveling exhibitions as well as more intimate, thematic exhibitions that showcase its collection. The Museum frequently hosts special events with cultural and educational partners and presents a variety of dynamic programs throughout the year such as Free Family Sundays, Yoga & Meditation, and hands-on art workshops.
In 2006, the BMA eliminated general admission fees—a move the Museum’s eight civic-minded founders would applaud. The founders established the Museum in 1914 as an arts institution that would “not be thought of as a mausoleum of art, but as an institution to bring the fine arts into the lives of the citizens and their children.” Entry to the Museum’s collection and two audio tours, 60 Objects / Countless Stories and Artful Stories: A BMA Family Tour are free for everyone, everyday.
The Museum stands three miles from the Inner Harbor in a grand building designed in 1929 by John Russell Pope, an acclaimed American architect who designed the neoclassical National Gallery of Art and the Jefferson Memorial. Since the late 1950s, the Museum has expanded many times, unveiling a 40,000-square-foot east wing, the Wurtzburger and Levi Sculpture Gardens—nearly three acres of park lands showcasing a 100-year survey of sculpture, and 16 galleries devoted to contemporary painting, sculpture, works on paper, and projected art. Reinstallations of the Cone Collection and 15th-through 19th-century European art galleries have shed new light on many of the Museum’s beloved masterpieces.