Average Duration of Services: 1?2 hours
Parking: Parking garage
Pro Tip: Please leave plenty of time for parking. Bring your government-issued ID for our pub tour.
What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?
We're a locally run and locally owned business.
I'm a first-timer. How do you get me ready for the experience?
Tours run rain or shine, so bring an umbrella if the weather looks bad.
Have you ever been a patron of your own business? If so, what was the most enjoyable part?
Yes. I loved hearing how the guides personalized the stories by adding anecdotes from their own experiences. Many of our guides have been with us for years.
While designing the first synagogue in Maryland, architect Robert Cary Long Jr. cleaved to graceful, Greek Revival lines and pillars. In 1845, his vision came to life in the Lloyd Street Synagogue, which welcomed the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Twenty-six years later, contention among the congregation about reforming its liturgy and ritual led some members to break off and form the Chizuk Amuno Congregation?who built their own Moorish Revival-style synagogue (known today as B?nai Israel Synagogue) right down the street from the first. Today, both places of worship nestle within the campus of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, formed in 1960 to rescue and restore the Lloyd Street Synagogue?which now claims the title of third-oldest standing synagogue in the United States.
The museum has gone beyond just restoring the historic place of worship, which included the preservation of its original 1845 mikveh, a ritual bath. It has built three exhibition galleries that interpret the Jewish-American experience, focusing on Jewish life in Maryland. Art, rare objects, photographs, and oral histories fill these spaces, forming rotating and permanent exhibits that delve into topics such as the symbolism and traditions of Jewish food and the evolution of the Jewish market on Lombard Street. In the lower level of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, a multimedia exhibit explores its three immigrant congregations.
Before leaving, visitors can stop by a gift shop to pick up necklaces with the Star of David, custom kippots, and toys. On the right day, guests can extend their visit to include events, or they can return for educational programming that teaches non-Jewish students about Judaism and guides teens in interfaith dialogues.
The historically curious can also make an appointment to trace genealogical roots at the Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center, found inside the museum?s Anne Adalman Goodwin Library. These form the JMM?s collections and research center, which boasts more than 150 major manuscript collections and 24,000 cataloged photographs.
Dr. Joanne Martin and her late husband, Dr. Elmer Martin, began their museum in 1980 as a mobile temporary exhibit, filling a Pontiac with four wax figures purchased with the down payment they had intended for their future home. Though the museum has visited numerous national conventions, Dr. Martin has personally toured Mexico's murals and Ellis Island to glean new ideas for reaching visitors of every economic level. One of Dr. Martin's favorite moments came at the opening of a President Obama exhibit just before his inauguration, when scores of eager visitors filled the room to capacity, cameras in hand.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House was built in 1793, originally owned by the Young-Pickersgill family. 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.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 25?50
Parking: Parking garage
Most popular offering: African-American art, history, culture
Pro Tip: $6 validated parking is directly across the street at the PMI Parking Garage.
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum celebrates the achievements of African Americans, especially those from Maryland?which often means expanding on grade-school history lessons. For instance, Betsy Ross is typically credited with making the first American flag. However, one of the museum's rotating exhibits reveals that Grace Wisher, an African American indentured servant, also worked on the original star spangled banner. Dubbed "For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People," that exhibit was recognized as one of the country's best in the summer of 2014 by USA Today?in part because it featured a scrap of the real, first flag, covered in the bald eagle feathers that filled the air back then. That's just one of the myriad rotating exhibits that the museum has hosted, to complement permanent collections that highlight Maryland African Americans' endurance through two centuries of slavery, and their artistic and intellectual innovations.
What sets your business apart from your competition?
A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum is the east coast?s largest African-American museum. Besides rotating exhibitions, enjoy live musical performances from gospel jazz to steel drums. Films in our theater have enriched audiences on the history of soul food, civil rights, and more. For families, programs like art workshops and living history bring our mission to life. Lectures and our resource center enrich what you'll find in our permanent collection. We also nourish the body with the best soul food in Baltimore at our museum cafe. Visit our website for a full calendar of events.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
To showcase the rich contributions of Maryland African Americans, from Harriet Tubman and Thurgood Marshall to the unsung heroes who helped make Maryland what it is today.
What?s your favorite part about your job?
Having people experience something new, different, and enriching to their lives.
A restored Tudor-style mansion filled with luxurious guestrooms, the Gramercy Mansion B&B caters to both romantic vacationers and unsentimental grouches seeking elegant accommodations. Wake up with a breakfast that’s perfected with aromatic herbs gathered from the hotel’s Koinonia organic farm, then roam around the secluded wildlife preserve and spot the various species of birds, mammals, and Larry Bird impersonators that live in the woodlands.