Education and entertainment are not mutually exclusive. All across the world, academic, historical and government organizations provide locations where people may come in and experience art, culture and history firsthand. Baltimore has a very eclectic mixture of museums that range in topics from the bizarre to the existential. Here are a few that don’t just show; they also tell.
Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Drive
Baltimore, Md. 21218
Walk into the Baltimore Museum of Art and the first thing you are likely to notice is the architecture. Designed in the “Roman Temple” style, the building is a work of art in itself, painstakingly designed by the famous architect John Russell Pope.
The Museum of Art does Baltimore proud. Its collection of art, which ranges from the 19th century to modern day, has won international acclaim.
If you are an art lover, the Museum of Art should occupy a lofty spot on your bucket list. If you are not particularly interested in art, give it a try just the same. You are all but guaranteed to discover an appreciation for art you never thought possible.
The Museum offers multiple options for touring. Drop in Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays to take advantage of one of the free tours that investigates the treasures of the museum, or a particular subject from various eras and styles in art. Contact the Museum ahead of time and arrange for a group tour tailored to the interests of that group. Or explore the wonders of the museum by yourself with the assistance of an audio, cellphone or podcast-guided tour.
Art is one of the most unique accomplishments of the human race, and Baltimore is one of the premier locations in the world to enjoy these cultural treasures.
Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum
Gilman Hall Room 150
3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, Md. 21218
Johns Hopkins is known worldwide as one of the most respected venues for education. But Hopkins doesn’t simply educate those who have enrolled in its courses; it is also interested in educating the general public. A case-in-point is its excellent Archaeological Museum. Founded in 1882, this museum houses over 700 archaeological items from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Americas. It also carries objects on loan, including an ancient Egyptian mummy.
For lovers of ancient culture, this is a local venue that allows Baltimore-area residents to step back in time, assured that the information they receive regarding these relics is of the highest academic standards.
While the museum does have limited hours certain times of the year, anyone may walk around the outside of the building and look at the items on display in the windows year round.
Additionally, the museum is happy to offer specialized tours by request. Contact the museum to arrange a tour tailored to your needs with a small admission fee. Or take advantage of the tours specifically available for school classes by making arrangements ahead of time.
The ancient world was a beautiful, harsh and still largely mysterious place. Open your eyes to its wonders in this timeless museum of the ages.
The Walters Art Museum
600 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, Md. 21201
The range of art and artifacts in the Walters Art Museum is truly astounding. Showcasing works of art and culture from the third millennium B.C. all the way through the early 20th century, Walters grants its visitors a look at art so ancient it fits easily into the category of archaeology. Come visit to see ancient mummies, armor, weapons, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures and, of course, paintings from all across the globe – from the Far East, to Africa, to Europe, to America.
One of the best things about Walter’s is the ease of access it gives to its visitors. Unlike other such museums, there is no need to arrange tours ahead of time; any visitor may drop by and take advantage of the free “walk-in” tours. The Walters offers audio tours for those who choose to peruse in private, touch tours for the blind or partially sighted and scripted tours for the hearing impaired.
Trace your way through thousands of years of history in the media best suited to tell the story: its art.
Related: Weirdest Museums In Baltimore
Irish Railroad Workers Museum
918 Lemmon St.
Baltimore, Md. 21223
In the late 1840s, Irish immigrants had a considerable presence in Southwest Baltimore. At the time, decent jobs were scarce, and so a large majority of immigrants from Ireland found work on the railroad. The Irish Railroad Workers Museum is a series of row-houses in which Irish immigrants lived while working for the neighboring B&O Railroad. This museum sits at the center of a larger historical district that includes the B&O Railroad Museum, St. Peter the Apostle Church, the Hollins Street Market and St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery. It is this cluster of locations that nicely summarizes what the lives of 19th century Irish workers looked like, including their living place, livelihood, center of worship and place of death.
Come in on the weekend and enjoy a video documenting Baltimore Irish History, followed by a self-guided or docent-guided tour of the museum proper.
The museum also offers a guided neighborhood tour that gives visitors the full experience by taking them on a walking tour through B&O Museum, the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, St. Peter the Apostle Church where the staff of the church themselves will lead the tour, a quick stop at an Irish pub for lunch and then a fitting end of the tour at the St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery.
It is important to remember the unsung heroes and uncelebrated backs upon which Baltimore was built, and the Irish Railroad Workers Museum helps to keep the memory of these people alive.
2400 E. Fort Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21230
Of all of the cities in the nation, Baltimore has the singular bragging rights of being the one in which the National Anthem was composed. This writing took place at the famous Battle for Baltimore that occurred at Fort McHenry located on a peninsula jutting out from Baltimore into the Patapsco.
Fort McHenry itself is a fascinating structure and a true testament to the military brilliance of 18th century America. The fort is a star-shaped structure, appropriate for the song that defines it in the American mind. And because of the famous war fought over this fort, American park services have labored to keep the fort maintained and accurate to that period in history.
Come in during park hours and enjoy a short 10-minute orientation film shown two times an hour. After the film, go see the park for yourself. While tours at McHenry are considered “self-guided,” during the summer months, rangers will give visitors talks on a variety of topics about the history and utility of the fort. You may also enjoy the regularly performed drill, musket and artillery demonstrations.
Related: Best Art Museums In Baltimore
Joel Furches is a freelance writer and researcher for The Examiner and Logos Software, and also manages his own catalog of writing on Hub Pages. Joel is on the board of directors for Ratio Christi. He has a bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Education.