The state of Maryland is known for a lot of things but at its core, travelers and locals love to roam around in the state also called as ‘America in Miniature.’ The reason why it is called as Little America is that there is so much packed in its 10,460 square miles of land which is not even the largest in the United States. In its surroundings, you can find an array of landscapes excluding a desert of course. With all of its natural beauty up and ready for trekking, it is easy to overlook some of the state’s man-made attractions. If you have grown a bit tired of exploring the diverse locations in the state, then it might be time to check out what the state’s art and culture scene is like through the Walters Art Museum.

The Walters Art Museum is located in Mount Vernon-Belvedere, Baltimore Maryland. It is a public art museum that houses mostly major American art and sculpture collections. Although the art museum is barely a century old, it already has a huge history behind which dates back to the collection of the father and son duo, William Thompson Walters and Henry Walters.

Walters Art Museum History

William began to collect art pieces when he moved to Paris as a nominal Southern/Confederate sympathizer in 1861. He had already amassed a strong collection during his stay in Paris but in the following years, is son Henry began expanding it even more. When the collection grew even bigger, Henry decided to build a landmark to rehouse the pieces.

The early collection from the Walters were made accessible by the public at their West Mount Vernon Place mansion at the turn of the century in the 1800s. Henry continued to expand and move his and his Father’s collection in the following years and he also continued to build landmarks that would house the pieces for public display.

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Henry Walters, a phiplanthropist and founder of the Walters Art Museum (Source)

Upon the death of Henry in 1931, he bequeathed his entire collection which was a over 22,000 art works by then. The collection he and his father had left behind included masterpieces which dates back to ancient Egypt, the Renaissance era and more. It also included Greek sculptures, Roman sarcophagi, Chinese ceramics and bronzes and even ancient Mesopotamian pieces. Needless to say, the Walters left behind a huge collection of art pieces for the general public to view to their liking. When it was first opened, it was called as The Walters Art Gallery but the state of Maryland and the gallery’s organizers have renamed it as The Walters Art Museum in 2000. However, locals often refer to the collection simply as The Walters.

The Walters’ collection remains helpful to this date. In 2012, the museum released nearly 20,000 of its own images of its collections on a Creative Commons License. The photos were then uploaded to the world-wide web so that everyone else can see it. But of course, seeing these sculptures and paintings in person is a completely different story.

Now that we’ve tackled the long history of The Walters Art Museum, let us now take a gander at some of the important things to know just in case you are planning a visit to this Maryland staple.

What are the operating hours in The Walters Art Museum?

As much as we’d want it to, The Walters Art Museum is not open the entire week. It is only open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 10AM to 5PM. The museum is also closed during select holidays including Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Observed), Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Since the museum is popular to tourists and locals, it is best to pick your schedule wisely.

The best days to visit The Walters Art Museum are during the weekdays. During these days, there are fewer people as school is on. That also means it is advisable to avoid the museum during the summer. In terms of time, the visitors peak at around noon so the best time to visit would be during the early hours in the morning right after it opens its doors. Also be prepared to walk for a few minutes as the museum is very expansive.

What are the ticket prices in The Walters Art Museum?

The Walters Art Museum has been the top choice for budget dates and travels for good reason and that is because admission is free. Basically, all you have to pay for are souvenirs and food inside the museum. As per the management:

“Free admission to the Walters is made possible by the combined generosity of individual members, friends and benefactors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, and Howard County Government and Howard County Arts Council.”

How to get to The Walters Art Museum?

The Walters is a pretty popular place not only within Baltimore but also the entirety of Maryland. It is easy to get to the museum via cab. Some hotels also have shuttle services that take you directly to the museum for a small price so be sure to ask at the front desk.

The museum is located exactly at 600 N. Charles St. in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Cultural District. It is about one mile north of the Inner Harbor and the downtown business district. There are buses bound to pass by the area as well. The main entrance to the museum is on Centre Street near the corner of Centre and Cathedral Streets. For those with limited mobility, the Centre Street entrance is recommended.

Parking is located in from of the Centre Street entrance however, there is limited spaces for visitors. As such, early visits are well recommended.

Walters Art Museum Activities to Do

If you’re looking for a place that’s great for families, the Walters Art Museum is one of the top spots in Baltimore that we can highly recommend. This is because the place has a lot of good activities to offer that’s perfect for all ages. What’s even better is that you’ll have lots of knowledge and memories to take home with you when you visit the Walters Art Museum.

For those seeking some insights about the things to do at Walters Art Museum, here’s a rundown of the activities that you can try out.

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1Marvel at its collections

A painted limestone sculpture from the Ancient Egypt collection (Source)

Like in any other museums the Walter Art Museum has a lot of collections for you to see. As a matter of fact, it has more than 30,000 objects from around the globe and these are just from its permanent exhibits alone. But what makes its collections all the more unique is that these collections span more than seven millennia (from 5,000 BCE up to the 21st century) and with that, taking time to see all of its collections are one of the best things to do at Walters Art Museum. Here’s a peek of some of the museum’s permanent collections.

Ancient Art

In this collection, you can get to see some sculptures and other pieces of artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Nubia, Rome, Greece, the Near East, and the Etruria. Some of the notable items to see in this collection are the two monumental 3,000-pound statues of the Egyptian fire goddess, Sekhmet; the alabaster reliefs from the Ashurnasirpal II’s palace; the Walters Mummy; and some pieces of gold jewelry items from Ancient Greek. The highlights in this collection also include Roman portrait heads, Roman bronze banquet couch, and marble sarcophagi from Licinian and Calpurnian families’ tombs.

Ancient Americas

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A stone sculpture from the Ancient Americas exhibit (Source)

As the name suggests, in this collection, you can get to see and know more of the Ancient Americas. This collection highlights a number of exceptional works of art from South and Central America, as well as the remarkable pieces from the Aztec, Maya, and Mesoamerican Olmec cultures. There are masterpieces from Eastern South America’s Inca and Moche’s cultures as well. Here, you can get to see sculptures, masks, painted vases, and so much more objects that are made of jade, gold, shell, turquoise, or clay.

Asian Art

walters art museum
A Chinese wine pot included at the Asian Art exhibit (Source)

The Asian Art collection at the Walters Art Museum is also a must-see. Get to know more about Asia and admire a huge collection of paintings, sculptures, lacquers, metalwork, porcelains, and the likes from several parts of Asia. Some of the highlights in this collection are the Japanese armors, an earthenware camel from T’ang Dynasty, an elaborately painted wine jar from the Ming Dynasty, and the oldest surviving Chinese image of Buddha that’s made of wood and lacquer. This collection also holds some of the finest and largest collections of Thai bronze, banner paintings, and scrolls in the world.

Islamic Art

walters art museum
An illuminated copy of the Koran (Source)

The museum also showcases Islamic art and some of its highlights include a 7th-century hammered silver bowl from Iran and a 17-century Turkish tile with Masjid al-Haram’s image. In this collection, you can also get to see an array of Islamic manuscripts and so much more artifacts.

Aside from these, the Walters Art Museum also has separate permanent exhibitions that are dedicated to showcasing exceptional paintings and other artworks from the medieval European era, renaissance and baroque period. There is also an exhibit area that focuses on featuring the 18th and 19th-century European art.

2Learn more through programs

One of the museum’s staff showing the kids around (Source)

Another one of the awesome things to do at the Walters Art Museum is to join its learning programs. The museum often holds programs that aim to help its visitors to learn more about art. The best part of it is that anyone can join as they have different programs that are tailored to match each group of participants’ developmental needs. Through the programs that the Walters Art Museum offer, you can rest assured that you will not just learn to appreciate art more but you can also get to interact with other people.

3Participate in events

Adults mastering their craft through the Walters Art Museum’s programs (Source)

The Walters Art Museum also holds several events that are perfect for everyone as well and it sure is also one of the best things to do at the Walters Art Museum. Through the events that frequently hold, you can get to have fresh insights about the past civilizations, the art of different cultures, and the likes.

Aside from that, you can also participate in events where you and even your kids can enhance your skills. You will be able to experience a very interactive event where your kids can play, learn, and appreciate art all the more. You can too. There are also separate events dedicated to teens who want to master their craft, explore galleries, learn more about museums, and whatnot. These events are also a great way to bond with your family and friends.

4Drink and dine at the Walters Cafe

Some snacks and drinks that you can find at the museum’s cafe (Source)

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The museum isn’t just about art, though. They also have a cafe that is worth the talking as well. After a long day exploring the museum, one of the best things to do at Walters Art Museum is to head on to the first floor and find its very own cafe to relax and fill your tummies with good food or sip a good cup of coffee. For adults, you can enjoy the museum all the more on Thursday nights as you can get to enjoy a mug of beer or a glass of wine before taking a tour on its galleries.

5See different performances

Ballet students perform at 2015’s Chinese Lunar New Year celebration (Source)

Before you visit the Walters Art Museum, don’t forget to check on their list of events to see what’s on. This is because, if you’re lucky enough, you can get to see various performances at the museum.

Just last September, for instance, Alex D’Agostino performed Queer Curiosity. Meanwhile, this February, the museum is prepping for some fun celebration of the start of the lunar calendar. And the best part of it all is that you can witness all of these events for free.

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6Shop at the Museum Store

Some of the items that you can find at the museum’s shop (Source)

Of course, to make your visit all the more memorable, why not buy some souvenirs that you can also give away as gifts? Shopping at the Museum Store is also one of the best things to do at Walters Art Museum but why you say?

The Walters Art Museum’s store has a wide variety of items to offer that every art lover will definitely love. They have books, stationeries, pieces of jewelry items, education products, and even accessories for your home too. And these items are carefully chosen from the different parts of the world and give highlight to the museum’s collections and exhibits. So whether you’re looking for some nice unique items to take home with you and to make your visit more memorable or if you are looking for items to give as gifts, the Museum Store is a must-visit. You can also purchase online through their website but a trip to their physical shop is still a different shopping experience.

7See more collections coming

A sneak peek of the rare silk book (Source)

While there are already thousands of collections and exhibitions available at the Walters Art Museum, there will still be a lot more coming. And these future installations will definitely open your eyes all the more to the beauty of art. As of writing, there are two upcoming exhibitions that are slated to be installed and here’s what we know so far.

Woven Words: Decoding the Silk Book Exhibit

In this upcoming exhibit, you will get to see a rare book from the Walters’ collection. In this exhibit, you will be able to discover “a surprising and fascinating connection” between the creation of this rare 19th-century book and the computers of our modern world. Aside from the said rare book. you can also expect to see several handwritten books that hold the trade secrets of the Jacquard loom. This exhibit will only be available for a limited time only, though. It will only last from February 6 to April 28 so if you are interested, might as well plan your schedule already.

Animal Tales Exhibit

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A portion of the manuscript (Source)

In this exhibit, you can get to see manuscripts dating between 13th and 17th century that reveal how animals were given importance even during the ancient times. When it becomes available for viewing, exploring this exhibit is going to be one of the best things to do at Walters Art Museum as it’s especially perfect for children because it will definitely help them appreciate and learn more about our furry friends. Like the Woven Words: Decoding the Silk Book Exhibit, the Animal Tales will not be a permanent exhibit in the museum. It will only be available from May 18 to August 11.

With thousands of collections to see and several corners to explore, these are just a glimpse of the things to do at Walters Art Museum. The museum still has a lot to offer that will not just fill your eyes with aesthetics but will surely fill you with knowledge as well. It’s definitely a perfect place for everyone – whether you are an art lover or not.