Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art is an internationally renowned art museum anchored by the Cone Collection of modern art, including the world’s largest holding of works by Henri Matisse. The BMA also houses important collections of American and European fine and decorative arts, as well as 15th through 19th-century prints and drawings. Click here for more info.

The Cone Collection

The internationally renowned Cone Collection of modern art was bequeathed to the Museum in 1949 by Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone. The Museum holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of works by Henri Matisse, with additional masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh.

The sisters began collecting art to decorate their family homes, and their passion grew into a lifelong pursuit. They traveled to Europe regularly, visiting museums, salons, and the studios of artists, including Henri Matisse.

They purchased his work, ranging from intimate odalisques to monumental sculptures. The two women also built collections of American and European paintings, decorative arts, furniture, and African, Asian, and Near Eastern art. They donated their entire collections to the BMA in 1949. BMA’s free admission policy remains a legacy of the Cone Sisters’ commitment to their hometown. A virtual tour allows visitors to experience the collection as the sisters viewed it daily in their early 20th-century apartments.

American Art Collection

The Museum’s renowned collection of American art includes works from the colonial era to the present day. It is anchored by the Cone Collection, the bequest of Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta; and features nationally recognized holdings in American portraiture, silver, furniture, and decorative arts; a distinguished collection of modern American paintings and sculpture, including major works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Jasper Johns, and Marsden Hartley; and an outstanding collection of African American art.

The BMA was one of the first museums in America to acquire a significant collection of African art. This rich and varied collection includes masks, figures, and ceremonial weapons; headdresses; pottery; and textiles.

The Museum has also developed a remarkable collection of Native American art, featuring Plains beadwork, Arctic ivories, and Navajo textiles. It is also home to the world-renowned fiber works of Washoe artists Tootsie Dick and Akimel O’odham. A must-see place!

Sculpture Garden

There’s a lot to see inside the BMA, but the museum is also home to a sprawling sculpture garden. With 33 works spread over nearly three acres, this art park of sorts is a great way to take in some outdoor culture before or after dining at the popular Gertrude restaurant.

The Janet and Alan Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden features terraces, a two-level reflecting pool, plantings, and 19 major sculptures—including Auguste Rodin’s striding bronze Balzac (1892) and Isamu Noguchi’s stainless steel arc Untitled (Ear) (1958). In addition, the Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden showcases a more contemporary collection, with pieces by Mark Bradford, Isaac Julian, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and Carrie Mae Weems among others.

Other highlights of the BMA’s collections include an extensive decorative art collection, which includes period rooms from six historic Maryland houses and a selection of furniture; silver from Baltimore’s once-dominant silver manufacturing firm, Samuel Kirk & Son; and Baltimore album quilts. The museum has also contributed to excavations at the ancient city of Antioch in southeastern Turkey, where it holds a collection of 34 mosaic pavements.

Education Programs

BMA offers students, educators, and the general public innovative experiences with art that inspire creativity, sharpen observation, foster critical thinking, and explore the human stories told through art. The Museum’s education program serves a broad range of learners, with a focus on students in pre-K to 12th grade.

The Museum’s commitment to equity and inclusion was reaffirmed in 2018. The collection continued to expand with acquisitions of works by artists such as Mark Bradford, Isaac Julian, Wangechi Mutu, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Sherald, while the Museum reinstalled its Contemporary Wing to highlight the creativity of 21st-century black artists.

The Museum also introduced a virtual tour series, Literacy Through Art, to support Baltimore County classroom curriculums. Each virtual tour focuses on a different theme, connecting the Museum’s collections with vocabulary and themes students are learning in school. Browse the next article.


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