Baltimore has a surprising number of museums that explore both the history, art, and science, of not only the city, but the entire world. It’s not necessarily a place where you would expect to find relics and pieces of history from all around the world, but it is a city that has many instances of the past tucked into its different neighborhoods, and they are museums and areas that are very accessible. Many of the museums in Baltimore only ask for a donation as an entrance fee or are completely free to the public. That means exploring Baltimore’s artistic and historic institutions is pretty easy to do, even on a non-existent college budget.
The Walter’s is one of these museums. It was many artifacts as well as art from many different past civilizations, from the Roman Empire, to the Renaissance period, to a real child mummy from ancient Egypt. The museum is completely free to the public, and has extensive permanent collections that span from the 16th century to the 18th century of French and Italian art, including an authentic Raphael portrait of Mary and Jesus. Their permanent collection also includes art from the middle ages and from the Islamic Empires up till the end of the Ottoman Empire. The last time I went, they also had temporary exhibits of South/East Asian Art ranging from ancient relics of Hinduism and Buddhism to modern Japanese ceramics. They also had a super cute gallery of art from Baltimore schools, that showed the work of art students from around the area, and that also featured interactive arts and crafts stations for kids.
All the pictures in this post are from the South/East Asian art exhibit. It was definitely the part of the museum that interested me the most. Many of the pieces were sculptural representations of buddhist or hindu deities. In the exhibit I was able to learn not only about the art and the process that went into its construction, but also about the diversity and evolution of the interpretations of these two religions across regions. The great thing about the Walter’s is that is able to bridge this intersection of being a history and art museum at once, so you don’t just learn about the particular context of a piece, but also about the larger historical trend that it was framed by, and what the particular piece says or contributes to that. In this way, the Walter’s is a place to learn so much more about the world through the way in which individuals from different cultures across time express themselves and represent their world.
Of course, if the Walter’s seems like it’s a little daunting to take on, with so much to find out about the world under the roof of one building, there are definitely more focused museums in Baltimore, like the Museum of Industry or the Museum of Black History in the city. Also there are a few options for those who would rather focus on art, from the Baltimore Museum of Art, which houses the largest collection of Matisse in the United States, to the American Visionary Art Museum, which focuses more on up and coming artists. Additionally, there are some great house tours in and around the city too, ranging from early 18th century architecture to large mansions, emblematic of the gilded age of America. No matter what you want to explore, there is something for everyone to find in this city.