This past Memorial Day, I visited Baltimore for a long weekend trip as I’ve never been before. Baltimore kind of has a reputation for being a dangerous city, so many people are a bit wary to go, but if you just practice common sense, you can have a great time. I’m happy to report that I had no issues in Baltimore, but then again my travel companion is sort of paranoid so we didn’t stay out too late or wander too far from the more populated areas. First stop is…
Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland
The Walters Art Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and on Thursdays from 10am to 9pm. Admission to the museum is free. The museum is accessible by driving, walking and using public transportation. If driving is your preferred method of transportation, there is parking across the street from the museum, however there is a fee. (Check the museum’s website for more information as I didn’t drive, so I’m not sure about the rates.) The Walters Art Museum is about a half hour walk from the downtown and inner harbor areas. (Downtown Baltimore is a bit scary with plenty of homeless people, so just ignore them and keep going if they talk to you.) The museum is accessible via various forms of Baltimore public transportation: Charm City Circulator, MTA buses and the light rail. The best way to get to the museum via public transportation is through the Charm City Circulator, Baltimore’s free bus that circulates around the tourist area. Take the purple route to either the Washington Monument or Centre Street stops, depending on which direction you’re coming from, and walk about 2 blocks to reach the museum. Other attractions to visit nearby include the Washington Monument and the George Peabody Library (which is definitely worth a visit as the library is really photogenic).
The Walters Art Museum is four floors, thus to best conserve energy, my travel buddy started on the fourth floor and worked our way down, so we wouldn’t have to double back. There’s actually two set of staircases, one being more scenic than the other. The scenic staircase is the one overlooking the main entrance, where the free lockers and free audio guides are located. (You have to ask the information desk for the guide; I didn’t get one cause I didn’t realize there was an audio guide till about half through the museum.) The other is the one within the building, the typical stairs surrounded by four walls. The whole fourth floor is one exhibit, “From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story”, which features material about the Walters family alongside works of art that the family collected. Learn about who the Walters were and how they came about the pieces in their collection.
First up on the third floor is “Renaissance and Baroque”, which features French, Italian and Spanish art from the 13th to 18th century. Within the exhibit, the pieces are grouped by century, so that visitors can see art from a specific time period and how art has changed over time. Pieces in this exhibit included plenty of portraits and religious art. (I went backwards, starting from the 18th century to the 13th century, no big deal for me, but others might want to go in order.) Asides from paintings and sculptures, there is also a section on European ceramics.
Also on the third floor is the temporary exhibit, “Training the Eye: 19th Century Drawing”, which is on view from May 14, 2017 to August 13, 2017. (I did it, the post is still relevant, even if only for a day or so.) The exhibit features various drawings to illustrate the materials and techniques that were available to artists in that time period. Next to this exhibit is a small section on bookbinding. (Not sure how it fits with the drawing exhibit.)
Finishing up on the third floor is “The Medieval World”, which contains a variety of art from the medieval world that spans from the eastern Mediterranean to Western Europe. The exhibit is separated into sections to highlight the distinct works, including Early Byzantine, Islamic, Northern Europe, Romanesque and Gothic art, and Byzantine, Ethiopian and Russian icons. Another section is The Great Room, where one can sit down and enjoy a game of checkers with friends while surrounded by Medieval and Renaissance paintings and furniture.
On the second floor, “European Art/Sculpture Court” showcases the exhibits name, European Art and sculptures. The European Art part of the exhibit is separated into smaller sections, with each section focusing on a different theme, and it’s in these sections where the museum really shines. The sections include Collector’s study, Arms and Armor, Chamber of Wonders, 17th century Dutch Cabinet Rooms, and The Treasury: 18th century European and Asian Art. (The Collector’s Study and the Chamber of Wonders are my favorite as they contained lots of little trinkets and oddities.) The Sculpture Court contains a few a sculptures around the edges of the room, but the main area was a play place for children, with items supplied by the museum to entertain the younger kids.
The other exhibit on the second floor is “The Ancient World” that includes Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Ancient Near Eastern Art. The collection in this exhibit is pretty extensive (I enjoyed the sections on the mummies and the sarcophagi). The first floor contains the museum store, a café, and supposedly more temporary exhibits, but when I visited, there was nothing on display there.
My travel buddy and I spent a little over 2 hours at the museum, but as usual, different people will take a different amount of time. For a free museum, there is plenty to see, and they have free lockers and audio guides, so no complaints from me. The Walters Art Museum is a good family day trip idea since it doesn’t cost anything, and there’s enough material that there should be something of interest for everyone; there’s even a play area for the small children. Anyone interested in art will enjoy the museum, but it will probably be a great experience for the general population, too. Bring you friends and your family to the Walters Art Museum to enjoy a day of art and culture.