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.
Recently featured in the Washington Times, Gertrude's is a salt-stained bastion of coastal cuisine, with a menu chock-full of Chesapeake classics. Chef and owner John Shields, a nationally acclaimed coastal-fare innovator, author, and crab whisperer, named the restaurant for his grandmother, Gertrude Cleary. Grandma Gertrude's traditional Baltimore crab cake recipe lives on at her namesake restaurant with a dinner order of Gertie's crab cakes ($20), which arrives dressed with a choice of eight sauces, including the Creole or three-mustard. It's served with a choice of sides such as apple and fennel coleslaw, hush puppies, or grilled rosemary potatoes. Other maritime entrees, such as the citrus barbecue shrimp ($24) and the Chesapeake rockfish imperial ($30), recognize each other from the Shark Week extras' green room and happily provide diners fishing for Bay fare authenticity with transcendent catches for immediate consumption. Also available are Gertie's seafood Creole ($24) and locally raised beef burgers ($10).
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.
With pieces ranging from pre-dynastic Egyptian art to art-deco jewelry and American masterpieces, The Walters Art Museum is internationally revered for its culturally enriching exhibits. This season, view the majestically elegant urns, metal boxes, trays, and vases of the Japanese Cloisonné Enamels from the Stephen W. Fisher Collection, or volunteer for the interactive experiment measuring art's mind manipulations at Beauty and the Brain: A Neural Approach to Aesthetics. Members will remain in the know, thanks to access to The Walters' 100,000-volume reference library, education programs, and interest groups.
Since 1844, Maryland Historical Society has kept residents connected to their state's heritage by publishing educational books and a quarterly magazine. These days, its museum brings that archived history to life with more than 350,000 objects, most notably the oldest-known surviving manuscript of Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner," which includes its original, crossed out title, "Get Ready for Baseball, America." Guests can also marvel at artifacts ranging from 900 pieces of furniture made between 1634 and 2000 to more than 2,000 paintings, including seven by Joshua Johnson, America's first professional African American portrait painter. Meanwhile, its Civil War exhibit occupies more than 5,000 square feet with 3-D video presentations. The society also sponsors extensive educational programs that enlighten young students with field trips, plus adult programs that include lectures, concerts, and symposia.
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.
• 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.