The Baltimore Museum of Industry is fittingly located in the last standing cannery in the Inner Harbor, featuring a recently-upgraded exhibit dedicated to the building's original purpose—the old-school process of packaging oysters, fruits, and fish. The permanent, in-house collection Decker Gallery showcases neon signs, the first gas street lamp ever, and a three-eighths scale model of the MiniMariner rescue plane. Exhibits at the museum are similarly luminous: The amazingly recreated scenes from Baltimore's industrial past include a linotype setup in the print shop and working sewing-machine stations in the garment loft.
The American Visionary Art Museum devotes its space to original work by self-taught artists who honed their craft—often unintentionally—while operating on the outskirts of the formal art world. As temporary exhibitions explore a particular artist or theme in depth, the permanent collection displays thousands of powerful and often whimsical items, such as Wayne Kusy’s Lusitania, a detailed toothpick replica of the doomed vessel, or the haunting Applewood Figure, an emaciated sculpture said to wince whenever someone eats a piece of fruit. The museum spreads its arresting pieces throughout three historical buildings, including the expansive main building, which boasts a reflective mirrored-mosaic exterior and neighbors the Tall Sculpture Barn, an ex-whiskey warehouse fully equipped with 45-foot ceilings for large-scale projects. A wildflower garden—complete with meditation chapel—and a sculpture plaza featuring a 55-foot whirligig beckon visitors to the museum's outdoor space, where envious clouds shape themselves into crude versions of Pietà. Completing any trip, the museum's Sideshow gift shop stuffs shopping bags with an ever-rotating collection of eclectic artwork, jewelry, toys, and more.
The film festival, which begins on January 4th, features seven eye-smacking films shown on a full-size, five-story IMAX screen. The fest lasts for nine weeks, and there's no need to purchase Science Center admission ticket to attend any of the showings. Film choices include movies like Hurricane on the Bayou, a stirring documentary narrated by Meryl Streep that taps deep into the musical soul of the Big Easy before, during, and after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Volcanoes of the Deep Sea brings viewers 12,000 feet into the depths of the deep Atlantic wherescientists aboard a submersible explore the alien creatures, landscapes, and fast food franchises of earth's ocean floor. Other larger-than-life flicks include Michael Jordon to the Max, Greatest Places, Survival Island, and Extreme, which follows adventure-seeking athletes as they challenge some of the most intense forces of nature to a game of foosball. Music fans can nod their heads to U2 3D, a front stage pass to U2's worldwide Vertigo tour, filmed during the band's stop in South America. For a full description of films on the docket, visit the festival's website.
• For $4, you get a one-day individual adult admission (up to an $8 value). • For $17, you get a one-year individual museum membership (a $35 value), including general admission, 15% off at the museum gift shop, 10% off at the museum café, and discounts on select educational programs and lectures.
Inside the 1793-built Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, originally owned by the Young-Pickersgill family, figures donning period dress bring the household to life. Mary Pickersgill, maker of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag, is among the historical figures portrayed. Mary and her family—including her mother, Rebecca Young, and her apprentice, Grace Wisher—describe life in the 19th century and how Mary stitched the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem and the national anthem.
After exploring the house on 30- to 40-minute self-guided or docent-led tours, guests can learn about America's defense of the Chesapeake Bay against the British navy, which culminated in the battle that inspired Key's verse. The first floor's permanent exhibition gallery focuses on that defense with artifacts such as a drum used by an American soldier during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry. Kid attendees, meanwhile, can head over to the Discovery Gallery to whip up a pretend meal at a replica of the Flag House kitchen or design their own flag to string up on the gallery's flagpole.
Created by Steve Geppi, the founder of Diamond Comic Distributors, Geppi's Entertainment Museum traces the evolution of American popular culture from the late 1700s to today with nearly 6,000 artifacts such as comics, dolls, and games. Along with rotating special exhibitions, the museum's permanent galleries each dedicate themselves to a specific period or medium. Rekindle your flame with favorite cultural characters such as Batman, Mickey Mouse, and Barbie as you place them in historical context via the museum's massive memorabilia-based timeline. Geppi's Entertainment Museum further enriches students' cultural and historical savvy on educational tours that examine pop culture in wartime or suggest preservation and pickling methods for first-time collectors.