Municipal Art Society Records Supplement, 1924-1992, MS. 2875

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History

Municipal Art Society Records Supplement, 1924-1992
Maryland Historical Society

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Municipal Art Society Records Supplement,
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
410.685.3750 ext. 359



Descriptive Summary

Municipal Art Society Records Supplement,


Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Mary E. Herbert

February 10, 1997



Note: This history [1988] of the Municipal Art Society is taken directly from the History series of MS. 2875, Municipal Art Society Records Supplement.

The Municipal Art Society of Baltimore was founded in 1899 by a group of prominent citizens including architects, artists, businessmen and educators to provide sculptural and pictoral [sic] decoration and ornaments for the public buildings, streets and open spaces in the City of Baltimore, and to help generally beautify the City.

One example of the Society's early visions is the Baltimore Museum of Art. So far as it is known, the first suggestion for a museum was made at the [society's] initial meeting when General [Felix] Angus proposed that the organization be empowered to receive gifts of art objects or of real estate, with a view to the possible formation of an Art Museum.

During the first year of its existence, the Municipal Art Society undertook the commissioning of the first of many murals to decorate the new courthouse, then under construction.

In 1900, the Municipal Art Society proposed the height limit in Mt. Vernon Square and, later, defended it against efforts to build taller buildings along the square.

By the winter of 1900, the Municipal Art Society had gotten together $30,000 with which to begin to enrich Baltimore's public art possessions. The Society began to commission statues to men who had played an important role in Maryland History. The John Eager Howard sculpture (1904) and the Severn Trackle Wallis sculpture (1905) began a tradition of public art projects by the Municipal Art Society.

In 1902, the Society began negotiations with the Olmstead Brothers to prepare a comprehensive plan for the development of Public Grounds for Greater Baltimore. This report, submitted in 1903 and published in 1904, is responsible for the enlargements of Patterson, Wyman, Patapsco Valley and Gunpowder State Parks. The creation of Leakin Park, Gwynn Falls Park and Herring Run Park can all be attributed to the Olmstead recommendations and the efforts of the Municipal Art Society.

In 1910, the Society published a Partial Report on City Plan prepared by John M. Carrere, Arnold Brunner and Frederick Law Olmstead. The results of that report were the creation of the City Hall Plaza and the site for the War Memorial Building.

Though Baltimore was a pioneer in establishing a City Plan Commission in 1898, this body had become inactive by 1929. In that year, the Municipal Art Society sought the attention and support of the Baltimore Association of Commerce, the Real Estate Board and the newly created Commission of Governmental Efficiency and Economy, to revive this very important body. The Society's persistent efforts resulted in success when in 1932, the Commission on City Planning was reestablished by Mayor [Howard Wilkinson] Jackson.

In 1956, the Municipal Art Society supported the plans of the Committee for Downtown Baltimore in their efforts to revive the economic vitality of our City. The Committee became the Greater Baltimore Committee and their plans became the redevelopment of Charles Center and the Inner Harbor.

Today, the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore continues its role as a granting institution for deserving projects addressing environmental art, city beautification and public awareness of these issues. Recent efforts include support for Maryland Art Place, Artscape and contributions to several public art installations.


Scope and Content Notes

The Municipal Art Society Records Supplement (1924-1992) is an addition to MS.2840, Municipal Art Society Records (1903-1949). This supplement consists of eight boxes and 3 albums of correspondence, notes, printed ephemera, and photographs (patrons are required to wear gloves while handling photographs.)

The material principally chronicles the activities of the Municipal Art Society both pre- and post-merger years with the Friends of Art in 1932. Papers have been arranged chronologically within series such as Civic Art, Projects and Programs; Executive Committee Meetings; Correspondence; Lectures; Membership; Museums and Libraries; and Treasurer. It is suggested that one search both Correspondence and any related series for queries concerning a specific person, event, or time period, to glean the maximum information from this inter-relational collection.

As of the date of processing, February 1997, the Minute Books and Financial records are retained by the Municipal Art Society. The minutes of the Municipal Art Society are available on microfilm at the Archives of American Art, Detroit, Michigan.


Series Description

MS.2875 is divided into fifteen series. Materials are alphabetized by subject matter within each series and then arranged chronologically, with undated items first. Please use gloves with the boxes containing photographs.

Series I: Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1899-1973

1 folder

Most of the By-laws remain with the minute books retained by the Municipal Art Society. The minutes of the Municipal Art Society are available on microfilm at the Archives of American Art, Detroit, Michigan.

Series II: Civic Art, Programs and Projects 1925-1991

2 boxes

Physical and intellectual civic enhancements sponsored in whole or in part by the Municipal Art Society are included here. Information relating to specific programs and projects (architecture, paintings, parks and parkways, publications and sculpture) including correspondence, proposals, printed matter, and notes, are filed in this series. Items within this series relate to the city of Baltimore in an aesthetic, developmental or re-developmental manner.

Subjects include architectural projects such as prizes awarded through the Baltimore Association of Commerce; the revitalization of Mt. Vernon Place and Bolton Hill (1971); and, publications such as Baltimore Heritage (1963) and Juror's Guide to Baltimore City: A Walking Tour.

Baltimore Planning interests and commissions projects include revitalization of neighborhoods such as the Inner Harbor; and Mt. Royal in 1937 and Laurence d'A.M. Glass' Mt. Royal project (1982). The Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) developed City Series (1988-1990).

The Johns Hopkins Memorial (1935) is foldered as a separate project and is one of several sculptures by Hans Schuler funded in whole or in part by the Municipal Art Society (MAS). Other Schuler pieces funded by the MAS may be found in the Maryland Institute folder. The Maryland Institute folder also includes subjects such as Baltimore Promenades (1980-82); George Lucas (1972, 1974); Jonathan Silver, Birth of Venus (1984, 1988); Science Center Sculpture (1986); F. Grainger Marburg Award initiated May 4, 1988; The Baltimore Conference (1990); and Quentin Moseley's neon lights atop the Fox Building (1991).

Maryland Art Place projects include Liberty Plaza, Jeff Schiff (1985-1989).

Jones Falls Valley park and expressway projects include Stan Edminster's Baltimore Painted Bridge Joins Art to Highways alias Painted Bridges over JFX and his Guilford Avenue Bridge.

The Lee-Jackson Memorial (1934-1950) was funded by the J. Henry Ferguson bequest to the MAS for that purpose. The 2 February 1948 address by William J. Casey chronicles the process.

The Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture initiated projects such as Artscape (1981-1989) and placed works around Baltimore by artists such as Sol LeWitt (1984) and Martin Puryear (1986).

The container list below indicates folders on specific painting and sculpture projects including gifts of sculpture to Baltimore's Sister City, Kawasaki, Japan. Scholarships sponsored by the Municipal Art Society and aesthetic vision based relationships with Baltimore institutions are also found within this series foldered as the name of the scholarship or liaison institution/corporation/committee.

Municipal Art Society relationships with some Baltimore museums, libraries and The Walters Art Gallery form a separate series titled Museums and Libraries.

Series III: Correspondence, 1924-1992

1/4 boxes

This series contains Executive and General Correspondence.

Correspondence between executive officers (1924-1992, ½ box) concerns aspects of the vision, organization and running of the Municipal Art Society. Correspondence regarding bequests, financial interests and Municipal Art Society membership in other organizations are foldered separately.

The content of General Correspondence (1934-1991, [frac34] box) primarily concerns scholarship and grant requests, including the Municipal Art Society's guidelines for Grant Proposal (n.d.). Subjects mentioned include: E.K. Rand, A Toast to Horace (1937) based on Rand's January 1936 lecture A Toast to Horace on His Sabine Farm; Baltimore/Washington Parkway (1935+); Maryland Outdoor Life Federation (1935, 1936); the Phoebe Stanton and Sherry Olson publication of a history of Baltimore (1971-1973); the Pride Memorial, (1980-1981) and the International Sculpture Symposium of Baltimore.

Individual projects funded, sponsored or cosponsored by the Municipal Art Society may be foldered within the Civic Art, Projects and Programs series or the Museums and Libraries series below.

Series IV: Ephemera, 1934-1990

2 folders

The first folder in this series houses Municipal Art Society ephemera. The second folder houses information describing activities sponsored by other institutions. The materials may have been collected to discern future lecturers; this relationship is apparent in the Lecture series.

Series V: Executive Committee Meetings, 1935-1992

1/2 box

A list of officers generally accompanies the annual meetings. Meeting agendas have been retained where meeting minutes are unavailable. Grant applications included here provide insight into and documentation of support solicited from the Municipal Art Society.

Series VI: Exhibition Committee, 1935-1939

1 folder

Most of the extant Exhibition Committee materials are housed in MS.2840, Municipal Art Society Records. The few papers contained here relate to additional committee activities and exhibits during the time period 1935-1939.

Series VII: History, n.d., 1924, 1941, 1953, 1954, [1988]

1 folder

This series includes brief periodic histories of how the organization fulfills its mission statement. Based on information found in the Membership series, these histories may have been circulated to solicit funds for, or interest in, the programs of the Municipal Art Society.

Series VIII: Lectures, 1935-1984

1 1/2 boxes

Contained in this series are correspondence, ephemera, and refreshment arrangements concerning lectures sponsored by the Municipal Art Society. A June 18, 1938, letter to a potential lecturer states that the Society sponsors six lectures annually. Only two extant addresses (1936, 1938) are included here.

Series IX: Membership, 1935-1988

3 folders

Among the information found in this series are the correspondence, notes, and member lists concerning the Municipal Art Society membership as coordinated by the Treasurer.

Series X: Museums and Libraries, 1934-1990

2/3 box

Contained in this series are materials relating programs sponsored by the Municipal Art Society for various Baltimore museums and libraries; the Walters Art Gallery is included with these cultural institutions. Materials also include programs the Society consponsored with a given museum, library or The Walters Art Gallery. Institutions are foldered separately.

Series XI: Press Releases, 1956, 1957, 1970

1 folder

The 1956 press release by the Municipal Art Society is a resolution by the executive board concerning plans for the civic center in Baltimore. The press release in 1957 voices concerns about the location of public parking scheduled for 810-812 St. Paul Street. A $1,000 prize is offered in the 1970 press release for the beautification of Baltimore City.

Series XII: Treasurer, 1935-1991

2 folders

This series is composed mainly of correspondence generated by the two Municipal Art Society treasurers during this time period: William J. Casey and Alan P. Hoblitzell, Jr. Some reports and a few receipts accompany the papers in this series.

Series XIII: Special Events, 1935-1970

1 folder

This series contains papers concerning special events, laudatory dinners and entertainment organized by the Municipal Art Society. Lectures are filed as a separate series. Information on Exhibits can be found in the Exhibition Committee series; or, in the Civic Art, Programs and Projects series in the folder corresponding with the institution/committee co-sponsoring the exhibit with the Municipal Art Society.

Series XIV: Statements, 1954-1991

8 folders of Asset Statements, Annual Asset Reviews, Statement of Portfolio Valuations, and fund statements

Series XV: Meeting minutes, 1899 – 1960

 3 albums of meeting minutes for the Society.


Container List

Please use gloves when looking at the photographs housed in boxes 1-3.


Series I: Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws

Articles of Incorporation and By-laws

n.d., 1899-1973

Series II: Civic Art, Programs and Projects

Architectural Interests


Art for Hospitals


Baltimore City Foundation


Baltimore Planning Interests and Commissions


Baltimore Watercolor Society


Johns Hopkins Memorial


Jones Falls Valley: park and expressway


Kawasaki, Japan (Baltimore's Sister City)


Lee-Jackson Memorial


Market Center Development Corporation



Maryland Art Place


Maryland Institute: Baltimore Promenades


Maryland Institute: Rinehart and Hoffberger Schools: Walters Traveling Scholarship Award


Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture



Olmstead related projects


Painted Bridges over JFX (Jones Falls Expressway)


Pennsylvania Train Station at Baltimore


Sculptors, Inc.


Series III: Correspondence

Executive: Correspondence between executive officers


Executive: Memberships, interests in other organizations


Executive: Financial interests


Executive: Amelia Marburg Bequest


Executive: Daingerfield Bequest



General Correspondence


Series IV: Ephemera

Municipal Art Society materials

1950, 1955, 1990

Non-Municipal Art Society materials


Series V: Executive Committee Meetings






Series VI: Exhibition Committee

Exhibition Committee exhibits and activities


Series VII: History

Periodic Municipal Art Society Histories

n.d., 1924, 1941, 1953, 1954, [1988]

Series VIII: Lectures


1936, 1938










Season Schedules-proposed/actual (dates not inclusive)


Series IX: Membership






Series X: Museums and Libraries

Baltimore City Life Museum


Baltimore Museum of Art


Enoch Pratt Free Library


Great Blacks in Wax Museum


Maryland Historical Society


Peale Museum


Walters Art Gallery


Series XI: Press Releases

Press Releases

1956, 1957, 1970

Series XII: Treasurer

Correspondence and Receipts




Series XIII: Special Events

Special Events (dates not inclusive)



Series XIV: Statements, 1954-1991


Series XV: Meeting minutes, 1899 – 1960