Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Dr., 443/573-1700,
HOURS: Wed.–Fri. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
One of Baltimore’s two great museums (along with Mount Vernon’s Walters Art Museum), the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has a world-class holding of works from across the globe and the centuries. Founded in 1914, the museum’s grand, classical main building (designed by John Russell Pope) was opened in 1929, though entry today is gained through a modern, modest building to the right of this structure.
The BMA’s treasures include masterpieces from a wide variety of eras and cultures, but its greatest asset is the legendary Cone Collection, donated by Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone upon Etta’s death in 1949 (Claribel had passed away in 1929). Fueled by the profitable Cone textile business, the sisters personally amassed an astonishing body of works from renowned artists (and, more often than not, close friends of the Cones) including Cézanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, and van Gogh.
The sisters collected some 3,000 works of art in their lives, including more than 500 works by Matisse alone; the collection is regarded as one of the most comprehensive samplings of post-Impressionism in existence. Visitors can even take a virtual tour of the Cone sisters’ massive, adjoining apartments and see how the artworks were displayed in their homes.
The BMA added a contemporary art wing in 1994, and it houses an impressive array of works from artists like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, and Baltimore native Grace Hartigan. European, African, Pacific, and American artists are also well represented in the museum’s halls. Outside the museum are the Sculpture Gardens, which include works from Auguste Rodin and Alexander Calder (the view of the gardens from the patio of the BMA’s restaurant, Gertrude’s, is a local favorite). The museum also boasts the Antioch Mosaics, a large collection of early a.d. tile works from what is today Turkey.
The BMA and the Walters Art Museum share another distinction: Both institutions have waived their entry fees (though special shows may still require a ticket purchase).
© Geoff Brown from Moon Baltimore, 1st Edition