Friday, May 11, 2012

The Baltimore Museum of Art Decorative Arts & Period rooms

One of my favorite museums in Baltimore is the Baltimore museum of art. Housed in a 1920's Classical temple building designed by architect John Russell Pope, The museums collection started from a single object in 1914, The Baltimore Museum of Art’s internationally renowned collection today encompasses 90,000 works of art, including the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world, as well as masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh.

The BMA’s holdings of American decorative arts include an extensive furniture collection that represents the major historic cabinetmaking centers of 18th and 19th century Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Many of these objects came from Miss Dorothy McIlvain Scott, a generous Baltimore philanthropist and collector.

A remarkable gift in 1933 by Mrs. Miles White, Jr. of over 200 stunning pieces of Maryland silver formed the nucleus of an impressive silver collection that now embraces objects by leading 18th- and early 19th-century silversmiths in Annapolis and Baltimore, as well as elegant examples of early English silver owned by Maryland families during the Federal era. Later masterworks by artists from Louis Comfort Tiffany to Georg Jensen are also on view.

Other notable aspects of the decorative arts collection include a rare set of five clerestory windows and two brilliant mosaic-clad architectural columns that represent Tiffany's lasting contribution to 20th-century ornament. Period rooms from six historic Maryland houses, along with architectural elements from other historic buildings, illustrate town and country building styles from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a dozen miniature rooms made by Chicago miniaturist Eugene Kupjack invite scrutiny of a variety of decorative styles at close range.

The BMA has an outstanding collection of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts dating from the colonial era to the late 20th century. Among the highlights are important regional holdings such as Maryland-related portraiture by Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, and other members of the renowned Peale family; silver from Baltimore's prominent silver manufacturing company Samuel Kirk & Son;and painted furniture by John and Hugh Finlay of Baltimore.


  1. The Baltimore Museum of Art was really smart setting up dedicated rooms to the decorative arts. Too often what we get in a museum of art is:
    and, perhaps, furniture.

    The silver is gorgeous... I must look up Samuel Kirk & Son. And the porcelain is similarly lovely - were they imported from Europe by some very elegant collector?

  2. Thanks for the show of the museum... one of my favorite things, those ice cream servers... would love to have one but they are all in museums. You snapped a particularly lovely one... oh well, I can dream!

  3. Hi Helen, Thanks for your comment. What you said is to true. Most museums do not have decorative arts to display along with paintings. Yes most of the porcelain shown was imported from France and England when new by wealthy people of Baltimore.

    Thanks for your comment lostpastremembered, I use to see them every once and a while on ebay for sale but I have not looked at ebay in years. The English set with the Greek Key is to die for.