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  • Baltimore Museum of ArtBaltimore Museum of Art Baltimore, Maryland
    The Baltimore Museum of Art began in 1914, with just a single painting, called Mischief and painted by William Sergeant Kendall. The biggest prize of this museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland is the Cone Collection that contains works by van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, Gaugin, Degas, Monet and Cezanne. Also located in the museum is the pride of Chef John Shields, Gertrude's Restaurant. The well known architect, John Russell Pope, was brought in to design the new museum, on land donated by the John Hopkins University, with three floors, and numerous rooms that have been copied from six of Maryland's historic homes. The museum opened in 1929, without too much fanfare, and as visitors entered, they were met by Rodin's The Thinker, with numerous items on loan from the Baltimore and Maryland collectors. Many of these beautiful objects were later donated to the museum and many of these donors were those that shaped the destiny of the museum. Presently, the collection contains over 90,000 relics that have made it the biggest art museum in the state and brings over 300,000 visitors to its antiquities every year. It was one of the first to acquire a major collection of African artworks, with the Janet and Alan Wurtzburger collection in 1954, that brought in over 2000 pieces of artworks that range from the periods of ancient Egypt to today's Zimbabwe and includes works from Ndebele, Bamana, Kuba, Yoruba and others. The collection includes masks, royal staffs, textiles, jewelry, pottery, ceremonial weapons, headdresses, figures and more. Their American collection is one of the best in the country, that come from the colonial period to today and contain paintings, decorative arts and sculptures, with numerous works from the Baltimore area that include; portraitures by Rembrandt Peale and Charles Wilson Peale, among others, silver from the manufacturing company of Samuel Kirk & Son, painted furniture by Hugh and John Finlay of Baltimore and American Baltimore album quilts. The American paintings include works by John Singer Sargeant, Thomas Hart Benton, John Singleton Copley, Childe Hassam, Thomas Eakins and Thomas Sully. Some of the most prestigious canvases hold works by Thomas Cole in his A Wild Scene, Pink Tulip by Georgia O'Keefe and La Vachere by Theordore Robinson; as well as prints and drawings, modern photographs, with artworks by Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Imogen Cunningham and Paul Strand.

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  • Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner MuseumFlag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum Baltimore, Maryland
    Situated in Little Italy, in Baltimore, Maryland, the Flag House and Star-spangled banner Museum was the former home of Mary Pickersgill, who was the lady that sewed the star spangled banner, which flew over the garrison at Fort McHenry during the summer of 1814, in the Battle of Baltimore, which was in the War of 1812 with the British. Mary moved to the house in 1806, and the museum contains many of her furniture and antiques that came from her family, as well as other that were added over time. A museum was constructed next door to the house with 12,600 square feet of space that house exhibits and displays of that war and the battle for the city. There is also an orientation theater, exhibit galleries, meeting rooms, giftshop and tearoom; with a 30 by 42 foot window that is the same size, color and design of the original Star-Spangled Banner that had been sewn by Mary in the house next door. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1969, as well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mary was born in Philadelphia in 1776, as Mary Young, who learned the flagmaking business from her mother, Rebecca Young who had created garrison flags, ensigns and continental standards during and after the revolution, and they all moved to Baltimore when Mary was still young, no pun intended, and in 1795 she married John Pickersgill and went to live in Philadelphia again until John passed on. She came back to Baltimore in 1807, as a widow and bringing her young daughter, Caroline. She moved into this house and started making flags, where she made a good living designing, sewing and selling her excellent silk standards, cavalry and division colours of every kind, that included signal and house flags for the US Army and Navy; as well as the merchant ships that came into the harbor. In 1820, she had made enough to buy the small house she had been renting and lived there until her death. This magnificent woman did more than most women of today have done, and without the help of any government agencies, state agencies or other outside sources. She raised her daughter by herself, started and blossomed a thriving business from within her home, and was active in women's rights, and philanthropies; getting involved in social issues like job placement, housing, assistance and financial aid for disadvantaged women. During the decades from 1828 to 1851, she was president of the Impartial Female Humane Society which helped poor families get school vouchers for children and jobs for their mothers. A home for aged women was started in 1850, and by 1869, 48 women lived there, with plans for a men's home that opened in 1863 and had 27 residents.  Mary received $544.74 for her flag, which sits in the Smithsonian and is presently going through an $18 million restoration, which will be the showcase masterpiece at the newly redesigned National Museum of American History. Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, commissioned Mary to sew a flag "so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance". She took 6 weeks to make the flag using 400 yards of fabric, her daughter, two nieces and two slave women. The fifteen stripes were two feet wide and each of the 15 stars were 26 inches from tip to tip. It was this flag that Frances Scott Key saw from his imprisonment in a British ship on that fateful morning, that inspired him to write the poem that became our national anthem.

January 11, 2011