BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Museum of Art is getting a big gift from filmmaker and Baltimore native John Waters.

Waters is giving the museum roughly 375 of his prints, paintings and photographs.

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“It is unquestionably one of the most significant collection gifts in our history,” museum director Christopher Bedford said.

Waters first became interested in art when he visited the museum as a boy in the 1950s, buying a poster at the gift shop.

“I took it home and hung it in my bedroom in Lutherville and showed it to the other kids, and they were like ‘Why would you put that ugly thing up?’ and then I was so excited by that,” he recalled.

The 74-year-old is best known for writing and directing the film “Hairspray.”

When looking for a place to donate the works, he said he wanted them to go back to the museum that sparked his love of art.

“I’ve always been a Baltimore booster and I wanted it to go here,” he said.

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There are a few strings attached: an art piece Waters created must be on display at all times, and two of the museum’s bathrooms will be named for him.

“I said ‘But really, I want the bathrooms.’ They thought I was kidding!” he said.

Bedford said the museum was happy to oblige.

“We found it hilarious,” he said.

The BMA said the gift follows Waters’ close collaborations with the museum on its major retrospective of his visual art practice, titled John Waters: Indecent Exposure, which opened at the BMA in 2018.

“Artists like John change people, and I think… sharing his work here and his collection here will continue to have that effect on our public across generations,” Bedford said.

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This story was originally published on November 12, 2020.

Annie Rose Ramos