Current Exhibitions

Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy
In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland during the War of 1812
Paul Henderson: Baltimore's Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960
Inventing a Nation: Maryland in the Revolutionary Era
Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War
With an Artistic Eye: Folk Art at the Maryland Historical Society
Work and Play on the Bay
The Star-Spangled Banner Gallery
Nipper's Toyland: 200 Years of Children's Playthings
Furniture in Maryland Life

Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy
Presented by the Von Hess Foundation

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was one of the femme fatales of the War of 1812 generation, setting the gossipmongers atwitter with her revealing empire dresses at society events. Her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brother Jerome became an international drama. Even at ninety-four, Elizabeth was still making news as one of America’s richest women. As the official keeper of Elizabeth’s memory, The Maryland Historical Society is launching a major new exhibition, entitled “Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and the Quest for an Imperial Legacy” that will open on June 9, 2013.

The exhibition illustrates the ‘two worlds’ of France and America that Elizabeth inhabited and showcases her pearl and garnet tiara, silver, porcelain, paintings, textiles, jewelry, manuscripts, furniture and one of her "scandalous" dresses in the French-style. 

 

In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland during the War of 1812
Presented by Brown Advisory and Legg Mason 

In Full Glory Reflected is Maryland’s largest display devoted to the War of 1812 and its era. The exhibition fills an entire gallery floor with a fascinating array of artifacts and documents, many donated by the Defenders of Baltimore themselves.

Visitors explore life in the early-nineteenth century as they follow Baltimore’s evolution from a small, scenic village to a bustling boomtown. Clipper ships carry them from the Chesapeake to China, and they discover the significance of maritime trade during this period. They watch as impressments, riots, and raids lead to war with Great Britain, and as war leads to battles like Bladensburg and North Point. They experience the disastrous surrender of the capital in Washington, and the heroic defense of Baltimore. Finally, they learn how the War of 1812 has been and will be commemorated. Visitors leave the exhibition considering what Americans were thinking, feeling, and doing during the early-nineteenth century. They also have a better understanding of the experience of Marylanders during the War of 1812.

The exhibition features many important objects, including: a mug known as the “Etting Cup,” circa 1814, owned by Samuel Etting and etched with images and names associated with the Battle of Baltimore; a canteen inscribed by Shipley Liester Jr. and used in the Battle of North Point on September 12, 1814; Rembrandt Peale’s portraits of Joshua Barney, George Armistead, and other Defenders of Baltimore; a photograph of the “Old Defenders of Baltimore in Druid Hill Park” by W. Ashman, circa 1876-1880; and the original manuscript of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key at the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.

View More Here

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Paul Henderson: Baltimore's Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960
Opened February 2011
 (ongoing)


Installation view: Paul Henderson Photograph Exhibition

Baltimore's Civil Rights movement began in the early to mid-1930s. The lynching of George Armwood on Maryland's Eastern Shore in 1933 sparked revamping of the Baltimore Branch NAACP and intense activism on the part of black and white residents of Baltimore. 

Paul Henderson (1899-1988), born in Springfield, Tennessee moved to Baltimore in 1929. In 1930, Henderson married grade school teacher Elizabeth Johnson and the couple took an apartment on McCulloh Street, within walking distance of Pennsylvania Avenue, the black community of Baltimore's shopping and entertainment district. Along with education, church, sports, NAACP, politics, and the Afro-American newspaper, Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the many subjects featured in his photographs. 

Exhibited are important events, groups, and people such as the protest at segregated Ford's Theatre in Baltimore, NAACP membership campaign meeting, Baltimore Elite Giants Negro League baseball team, Morgan State College, Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson (head of the NAACP, 1935-1970) with her family, Thurgood Marshall with Dr. Carl Murphy (editor-publisher of the Afro-American newspaper) and many more. For more on the Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, please see the collection page. 

A blog with more of Henderson's work and videos with Henderson photos with audio from the McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project can be found here: http://hendersonphotos.wordpress.com 

See also: Paul Henderson Manuscript & Ephemera Collection - MS 3089
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection (BCLM, HEN) inventory lists
Related program: Seen & Heard: Maryland's Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories (February 23, 2012) 

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Maryland’s National Treasures has reopened with new artifacts and a new title:
Inventing a Nation: Maryland in the Revolutionary Era

Inventing a Nation: Maryland in the Revolutionary Era is a collaborative exhibition between the Maryland Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives presenting documents and artifacts from the American Revolutionary War. Iconic life-sized portraits by Charles Willson Peale complement the swords, uniforms and other personal items of America’s Revolutionary heroes. Artifacts belonging to George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Tench Tilghman, and William Paca are on display.

 

Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War

The Maryland Historical Society’s (MdHS) Museum opened Maryland’s largest and most comprehensive Civil War exhibit in April 2011. The impact of the war on the people of Maryland is be told in personal terms in Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War. The largest Civil War exhibit in the museum’s 167-year history occupies over 5,000 square feet and tell the story of a tragedy in three acts: the romantic war, the real war and the long reunion.

Featuring a “Time Tunnel” with 3-D videos which leads visitors back to 1861. On Saturdays and Sundays the Maryland Historical Society Players will perform short vignettes of major events that took place in Maryland.

 

With an Artistic Eye: Folk Art at the Maryland Historical Society

With an Artistic Eye assembles diverse objects from the Maryland Historical Society’s rich collections that can be considered folk art. The exhibition includes paintings, watercolors, sculptures, pottery, stoneware, textiles, furniture and jewelry created by artists without formal training, but with exceptional creative talent. Many of the objects of view have not been exhibited for decades.

 

Work and Play on the Bay

Work and Play on the Bay highlights the importance of the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland for over 350 years. Boat models, paintings, decoys, mastheads and trail boards are featured in the exhibition. A section of the installation features an area where younger visitors can try their hand at oystering.

 

Core Exhibitions

The Star-Spangled Banner Gallery

The Maryland Historical Society is home to the oldest known surviving manuscript of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Along with this national icon, the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery showcases paintings and artifacts, which tell the story of the brave Defenders of Baltimore who fought to protect our city and country from the British during the War of 1812. The Gallery also features a changing selection of items from the H. Furlong Baldwin Library’s Star-Spangled Banner sheet music collection.

Currently on view is The Star-Spangled Banner. A Patriotic Song. Published by Carr Music Store in Baltimore in 1814, it is one of the few remaining copies of the 1st edition of the poem set to music we know as our national anthem.

Click here to see more War of 1812 material in the Maryland Historical Society's collections

Nipper's Toyland: 200 Years of Children's Playthings

This gallery showcases the toys that Maryland children have loved over the past two hundred years. The exhibition features hundreds of toys, dollhouses, portraits and photographs associated with Maryland children.

 

Furniture in Maryland Life

Furniture in Maryland Life explores the manufacture, design, and function of furniture made and used in Maryland from 1634 to 2000. Decorative arts treasures, such as silver and porcelain, along with stunning paintings of Maryland interiors contribute to this fresh look at the furniture industry in Maryland.

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