At America’s national museum for Self-taught, intuitive art, the spirit of whimsy is in evidence even before you step inside. Sparkling mirrored surfaces, a bedazzled tree sculpture, and the 55-foot whirligig adorning AVAM’s front door all reflect its playful spirit.
Social justice and grassroots education inform AVAM’s exhibition themes, community events, and apprenticeship programs for at-risk youths. But don’t expect white walls and solemn security guards here. You can find information on all of these and more by clicking here.
About the Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) began in 1995 when Rebecca Alban Hoffberger had the idea to create a museum that would celebrate intuitive creative invention and grassroots genius. She based the museum on the Collection de l’art brut, an art gallery in Lausanne, Switzerland that specializes in outsider art—art created by self-taught artists who have no formal training.
From the very beginning, Hoffberger eschewed traditional methods of fundraising to build AVAM. She turned down a million dollars in grant money and relied solely on contributions and admissions. She also refused to take a salary for the first 15 years.
Today, the museum is a must-see destination for visitors from all over the world. Its quirky charm is evident even before you walk in the front door, with its mirror mosaic and 55-foot-tall whirligig sculpture at the entrance. The museum is the national center for self-taught, intuitive artistry and transforms dreams, loss, hopes, and ideas into powerful works of art.
The Permanent Collection
The museum’s 1.1-acre wonderland campus showcases the work of artists without formal training. It features pieces by farmers, mathematicians, prisoners, and people with mental illness. It also challenges conventional notions of what constitutes art. AVAM is a favorite of visitors from across the country and around the world.
Rebecca Hoffberger had the idea for a unique new museum that would emphasize intuitive creative invention and grassroots genius. She started with two old warehouse buildings, and since then has built more and added outdoor sculptures.
The museum’s permanent collection contains over 4,000 pieces of eccentric art. Its diverse range of works appeals to children and adults alike. The art pieces mainly feature everyday objects like rulers and forks that are turned into stunning creations. Children may be able to relate more easily to the art created by these self-taught artists because they use the same materials they might have at home. Besides, some of these creations can be very moving. This article is worth reading.
The Jim Rouse Visionary Center
AVAM is home to the national repository of art by self-taught artists and, according to founder Rebecca Hoffberger, a space that celebrates dreamers. “Something that AVAM has always danced within its 19 years of existence is the intersection of ideas and inspiration,” she says.
Located in historic Federal Hill, the museum’s campus includes a tall Sculpture Barn and Wildflower Garden. AVAM also has large exhibition and event spaces in the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, which is a favorite venue for weddings.
Among the many “wows” at this offbeat museum is the bright cobalt mosaic that wraps the main building, a nod to the city’s glass manufacturing history and created by local apprentices (the first teen to sign his name in the mosaic received a free museum membership). Guests can expect an inclusive atmosphere in this space dedicated to the spirit of creativity and intuition. AVAM recently came in second place in USA TODAY’s 10Best contest for Best Art Museum.
American Visionary Art Museum is a place where the imagination can take you wherever it wants. That is what founder Rebecca Alban Hoffberger meant when she conceived the nation’s only museum of self-taught, intuitive artistry.
In a career that has included being a personal apprentice to mime Marcel Marceau in Paris, establishing field hospitals in Nigeria, and studying alternative and folk medicine in Mexico, Hoffberger always sought out new ways to express her creativity. Her instinctive approach has also served her well in a career that includes founding AVAM, which she established without any formal education or training as a museum curator or scholar.
The museum’s two buildings and sculpture park are open to all. Abundant metered parking is available nearby on Covington Street and Key Highway. AVAM’s Sculpture Barn and Wildflower Garden is a great venue for weddings and special events. The 1st floor of the Jim Rouse Visionary Center can be rented out for private parties as well. Click here for more interesting articles.
Driving directions from Superior Soft Wash to American Visionary Art Museum
Driving directions from American Visionary Art Museum to Baltimore Museum of Industry