American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore

Baltimore is home to one of the most amazing museums I have ever visited, the American Visionary Art Museum. Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, a Baltimore native had a dream in 1987 for a visionary museum that would house and display American Outsider Art. Over six years she raised seven million dollars from various donors and was granted two buildings near the Inner Harbor by the city of Baltimore. In November of 1995 the museum opened its doors to the public.

Hoffberger’s dream that came true, was to create a museum that ”...does more than just have objects that stand there on pedestals. The great ones are all muse-based, connecting viewers to the heart of inspiration.” From this the museum developed seven Educational Goals:

1) Expand the definition of a worthwhile life

2) Engender respect for and delight in the gift of others

3) Increase awareness of the wide variety of choices available in life for all ... particularly students

4) Encourage each individual to build upon his or her own special knowledge and inner strengths

5) Promote the use of innate intelligence, intuition, self-exploration and creative self-reliance

6) Confirm the great hunger for finding out just what each of us can do best, in our own voice, at any age.

7) Empower the individual to choose to do that something really, really well.

In 1992 Congress designated the museum as America's national museum for visionary art.

Some of the permanent artists include:

1) Brian Dowdall (1948-2018), a visionary artist that worked in cardboard and scripts sand.

2)Calvin and Ruby Black (1903-1972) (1915-1980). Calvin hand carved dolls and Ruby clothed them.

3)Clyde Jones (1938-). A wooden ‘critter’ artist.

4) Dalton Ghetti (1960-). A unique artist whose art medium is the graphite in a pencil.

5) Leonard Knight (1931-2014). The Mastermind behind Salvation Mountain in Niland, California.

6) Leo Sewell (1845-) Junk Sculpture.

One of the most moving of all the exhibits is Esther Krinitz's Holocaust survival story, Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family. (Feb. 23, 2019 - Mar. 3, 2024). Esther, a Holocast survivor tells her story through her art of hand-embroidered works. These thirty-six works are moving and thought provoking.

No trip to the museum would be complete without visiting their gift shop, Sideshow. The Washington Post describes it as, “a jampacked, kaleidoscopic closet of curiosities divided into… novelties, books and original art.”
American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM)
800 Key Highway
Baltimore, MD 21230

Hours: Wed-Sun 10:00am–5:00pm
(Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day)

Copyright Roy Richard

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