What & Why: Collecting at the Maryland Historical Society

Eubie Blake
L2016.1.2 Wurlitzer folding reed organ that belonged to James Hubert "Eubie" Blake (1887-1983). Not dated. Made by Wurlitzer, Chicago. Museum Department. Gift of Elliott Hoffman./em>

Touring the Maryland Historical Society's galleries, you discover a broad range of objects from paintings to textiles, but have you ever wondered how these came to be in the museum's collection? The "what" of an object often becomes obvious after looking at it or reading about its history, but why the object was given often remains unstated. On June 29, 2016, we will launch our newest exhibit "What & Why: Collecting at the Maryland Historical Society," which spans four centuries of donations to the Maryland Historical Society, including two of Eubie Blake's practice pianos, period clothing, portraits, silver, a wool tapestry of George Washington and a video installation of images from the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising project. The exhibition will run through June 30, 2017.

The stories behind many donations are touching and important to the object's history. Chief Curator Alexandra Deutsch says she is privileged to work directly with donors and learn the "why" from them. "This exhibition explores not only what MdHS has been collecting for the past five years, but the stories behind why donors share their possessions with us," she says. Read on for more.